Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
"Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten" (He who allows dear God to rule him) is a 1641 hymn by Georg Neumark, who also composed the melody for it. It has seven verses and deals with the Christian putting their trust in God. Its author referred to it as a "Trostlied" or song of consolation and it first appeared in his Fortgepflantzer musikalisch-poetischer Lustwald (published in Jena in 1657). It also appeared in Johann Crüger's 1672 Praxis pietatis melica and in the first part of Johann Anastasius Freylinghausen's 1704 Geistreiches Gesangbuch. It has inspired musical settings, and is part of current German hymnals, both Protestant and Catholic.
Twenty other melodies have since been written for the text, though none have reached the same popularity as the original, Zahn No. 2778. The original melody has a wide usage in Protestant hymnody, including several other texts. Neumark's original is in the dorian mode, although later settings, such as by Bach, render this into G harmonic minor.
Melody in 3/2 time by Georg Neumark 1657
Version of melody in 4/4 time used by J. S. Bach
Neumark's 1657 hymnbook
In his 1657 hymnbook, Fortgepflantzter musikalisch-poetischer Lustwald, Neumark devoted five pages to the text, a prelude, melody and accompaniment of the hymn "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten".
Use in musical compositions
Johann Sebastian Bach repeatedly used the hymn tune in his compositions, most notably in BWV 93, his cantata of the same name, for the fifth Sunday after Trinity, composed for 9 July 1724. Its text is based on Neumark's original, which is retained verbatim in the first and last verses and rewritten elsewhere. The same melody was set to different words in other hymns, notably "Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende" ("Who knows how near is my end?"). Cantatas BWV 21, BWV 27, BWV 84, BWV 88, BWV 166, BWV 179 and BWV 197 use the original melody, with words taken from one or other of the texts. Cantata 21 links two stanzas with a three-part fugue (Sei nun wieder zufrieden, meine Seele); the tenor and soprano sing the cantus firmus. BWV 434 setting of this chorale is one of Bach's most remarkable of SATB harmonizations.
BWV 642 in the Orgelbüchlein is a chorale prelude for organ, with the hymn tune as its cantus firmus; whilst BWV 647 in the Schübler Chorales is an organ transcription of the fourth movement of the cantata BWV 93. In addition, two organ adaptations of the hymn are included in the Kirnberger Collection - BWV 690 (with a following figured basso-chorale) and BWV 691 (with an interesting variant and additional interludes). Another variant, the chorale prelude BWV 691a, can be found in the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.
Felix Mendelssohn adapted the text and melody as a cantata. Johannes Brahms also used it as a theme at various points in his German Requiem. Emilie Mayer (1812–1883) used the chorale for two strophes in the third movement (Adagio con molto espressione) of her String Quartet in G minor, Op.14. Max Reger composed two chorale preludes as Nos.45 and 46 of his 52 Chorale Preludes, Op. 67 in 1902.
Ralf Grössler included a meditation on the hymn's original melody in his 1988 Missa Dei Parvulorum. David Maslanka used the hymn tune as the core melody/theme for his wind ensemble work, In Memoriam (1989). In 2002 a new three-part a capella setting of the hymn was produced for the German movie Vaya con Dios.
The tune of "Wer nur den lieben Gott" is sometimes set to other hymns. It is used for "Abide with Us, the Day is Waning," an English translation of the Danish hymn "Bliv hos os, Menster Dagen heider!" by Caspar Johannes Boye. The tune is also used for "I Leave All Things to God's Direction," an English translation of "Ich halte Gott in allem stille" by Salomon Franck.
The hymn is No. 369 (EG 369) in the Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch, and No. 367 in the hymnbook of the Evangelisch-methodistische Kirche in Germany, though in the latter verse 5 is omitted. In the German hymnbook of the Neuapostolische Kirche, stanzas 1–5 and 7 appear as number 154.
The hymn became part of the 1938 Kirchenlied. Three stanzas were included in the first edition of the Catholic hymnal Gotteslob as GL 295. The sam stanzas (1, 2 and 7) are number 451 in the Swiss Katholisches Gesangbuch der deutschsprachigen Schweiz. In the Gotteslob of 2013, stanzas 1–3, 6 and 7 appear as GL 424.
In popular culture
The hymn is sung in Danish in the film Babette's Feast, at the end of the dinner scene. In the German comedy "Vayos con Dios" the Gloria is sung at the Jesuits' conventual Sunday Mass. They sing a three-part setting of Neumark's hymn, arranged for the film by the organist Tobias Gravenhorst, who plays himself in the film.
- Fischer 2007.
- Zahn 1890.
- Terry 1921
- Williams 2003, pp. 311–313
- Williams 2003
- Williams 2003
- "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten (Felix Mendelssohn)".
- Becker, Alexander; Grafschmidt, Christopher; König, Stefan; Steiner-Grage, Stefanie, eds. (2014). "Reger: 52 easy preludes for the most common Lutheran chorales op. 67, Volumes 1–3". Carus Verlag. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
- Abide with Us, the Day is Waning (text), with five verse of organ-only accompaniment for Abide with Us, the Day is Waning (mp3)
- I Leave All Things to God's Direction (text), with five verse of organ-only accompaniment for I Leave All Things to God's Direction (mp3)
- "IMDb, Babette's Feast soundtrack".
- Fischer, Michael (2007), "Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten", Populäre und traditionelle Lieder. Historisch-kritisches Liederlexikon, retrieved 9 April 2020
- Willibald Gurlitt, Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (ed.): Riemann Musik Lexikon, Sachteil, Mainz: Schott 1967, page 456
- Hansjakob Becker and others (ed.): Geistliches Wunderhorn. Große deutsche Kirchenlieder. C. H. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-48094-2.
- Terry, Charles Sanford (1921), Bach's Chorals, vol. III
- Williams, Peter (2003), The Organ Music of J. S. Bach (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-89115-9
- Zahn, Johannes (1890). Sechszeilige Melodien [Melodies in six lines]. Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder (in German). II. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann. pp. 208–213.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten.|
- Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works / Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten Bach Cantatas Website 2013
- Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten on mutopiaproject.org
- If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee (organ-only mp3 of the hymn tune)