Vater unser im Himmelreich

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"Vater unser im Himmelreich"
Hymn by Martin Luther
English Our father in Heaven
Text by Martin Luther
Language German
Based on The Lord's Prayer
Published 1538 (1538)

"Vater unser im Himmelreich" (Our father in Heaven) is a Lutheran hymn in German by Martin Luther. He wrote the paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer in 1538, corresponding to his explanation of the prayer in his Kleiner Katechismus (Small Catechism).[1][2][3] He dedicated one stanza to each of the seven petitions and framed it with an opening and a closing stanza, each stanza in six lines.[3] Luther revised the text several times, as extant manuscript show, concerned to clarify and improve it.[4] He chose and possibly adapted an older anonymous melody, which was possibly associated with secular text, after he had first selected a different one.[2] Other hymn versions of the Lord's Prayer from the 16th and 20th-century have adopted the same tune, known as "Vater unser" and "Old 112th".[5]

The hymn was published in Leipzig in 1539 in Valentin Schumann's hymnal Gesangbuch (Hymnal, literally: song book),[5] with a title explaining "The Lord's Prayer briefly expounded and turned into metre". It was likely first published as a broadsheet.[3]

The hymn was translated to English in several versions,[3] for example "Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth" by Henry J. de Jong in 1982.[6] In the current German hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch (EG) it is number 344.


Pachelbel's Vater unser im Himmelreich

Several composers used the tune, some also the text. Johann Ulrich Steigleder composed 40 variations on the tune and published them as a Tabulaturbuch in Strasbourg in 1627. Johann Pachelbel included a chorale prelude in his liturgical collection Erster Theil etlicher Choräle. Johann Sebastian Bach composed several chorale preludes,[5] one setting (BWV 636) as part of his Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book), two settings (BWV 682 and 683) as part of his Clavier-Übung III (German Organ Mass), and another one (BWV 737) in the collection Neumeister Chorales. Felix Mendelssohn included the tune in his Sixth Organ Sonata.[5] Max Reger set the tune as part of his 52 chorale preludes, Op. 67.

Bach used the melody in his cantata Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende, BWV 90 (1723), the chorale cantata Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott, BWV 101 (1724) and cantata Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben, BWV 102 (1726), and stanza 3 in his St John Passion (1724).[5][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vater unser im Himmelreich / Text and Translation of Chorale". 2006. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Vater unser im Himmelreich". 2006. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Vater unser im Himmelreich, der du uns". Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Leaver, Robin A. (1998). "Luther's Catechism Hymns". Lutheran Quarterly: 79–88, 89–98. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Vater unser". Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth". Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Ambrose, Z. Philip (2012). "BWV 245 Johannes-Passion". University of Vermont. Retrieved 29 March 2014.