January 9, 2020--Christum wir sollen loben schon BWV 611 from Orgelbuchlein by J.S. Bach

I pronounced last week that I was finishing up with the Orgelbuchlein this week. Unfortunately I miscounted and have one more prelude to go before I am finished with the book.

This week chorale prelude is an odd-man-out in the Little Organ Book. Christum wir sollen loben schon is one of two preludes where the chorale melody is not in the soprano range of the instrument. Instead it is in the inner alto voice. If you listen closely, you will hear the long sustained pitches in between the faster moving melodic lines in the soprano, tenor, and pedal/bass parts. The chorale is In his blog, Raymond Nagem writes: "Bach depicts Jesus’ descent to earth by taking the chorale melody down from its “rightful” place in the soprano and giving it to the alto. Once there, the melody is effectively hidden, just as Jesus’ divinity was not revealed to all during his life." Meanwhile, there is plenty of descending material throughout the material with the prelude beginning with the soprano part beginning almost two octaves higher than the chorale melody. The pedals are sounded two octaves lower--perhaps Bach was trying to reference the line in the chorale: “an aller Welt Ende reicht” (reaches to the end of the world) with this gesture.

I registered this chorale prelude not with full plenum, as many recordings I have listened to used. Instead, I went with a more meditative flute chorus (8', 4', 2', coupled with a 8' Nachthorn) in the manuals and a Bourdons 16' and 8' with a Principal 16' in the pedals to provide a bit of oomph to the sound.

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