Christ lag in Todes Banden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the church cantata by Bach, see Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4.
Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ lag in Todes Banden, and who, with Johann Walter, also wrote the melody.

"Christ lag in Todes Banden" ("Christ lay in the bonds of death") is a chorale by Martin Luther. It was published in 1524 in the Erfurt Enchiridion. In 1533, it was published with a traditional Eastertide melody. The title and first line are sometimes rendered Christ lag in Todesbanden.


The seven verses[1] of Luther's chorale celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, with particular reference to a struggle between Life and Death. The third verse quotes from 1 Corinthians 15, saying that Christ's Atonement for sin has removed the "sting" of Death. The fifth verse compares the sacrifice with that celebrated by Jews in the Pascal Lamb at Passover. The tradition of baking and eating Easter Bread is referred to in the final verse. The text has been modernised in recent editions of the German Luther Hymnal.

First verse[edit]

Christ lag in Todes Banden
Für unsre Sünd gegeben,
Er ist wieder erstanden
Und hat uns bracht das Leben;
Des wir sollen fröhlich sein,
Gott loben und ihm dankbar sein
Und singen halleluja,

Christ lay in death's bonds
handed over for our sins,
he is risen again
and has brought us life;
For this we should be joyful,
praise God and be thankful to him
and sing allelluia,


Chriſt lag ynn todes bandē in Johann Walter's Chorgesangbüchlein, 1524

The melody as set by Luther seems to have strong correlations with parts of the Eucharistic sequence for Easter, Victimae paschali laudes,[2] believed to have been written by Wipo of Burgundy in the 11th century. This was transformed, gradually into a "Leise", a devotional German pre-Reformation song with a number of stanzas, but maintaining strong characteristics of plainsong. A new version was published in the Erfurt Enchiridion of 1524 and adapted by Johann Walter in his Wittembergisch Geistlisch Gesangbuch (1524). This was subjected to many minor alterations in later hymnbooks, but the melodic shape remained the same in later additions, which include the addition of passing notes and modification of rhythmic patterns to conform the chorale to emerging styles, and to fit the chorale into a regular time signature.

Melody from soprano part of Bach's setting of the seventh and final verse in BWV 4

Musical settings[edit]

About this sound The original tune 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""Christ lag in Todesbanden", text and translation". 2005. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  2. ^ ""Christ ist erstanden", comparison of Easter sequence and chorale melodies". Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Free score of BWV 625 at" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Free Audio file at". Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Free score of BWV 695 at" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "Free score of BWV 718 at" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2010. 

External links[edit]