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Devotional Hymns: Morning, Evening Songs

Devotional Hymns: Morning, Evening Songs

William Hoffman wrote (December 14, 2017):
Last Trinity Time chorales, sacred song

With the end of the church year comes the symbolic eschatological End Time or Last Days that often are found in apocryphal literature, most notably in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and the last chapters of the Common Testament and the New Testament final Book of Revelation. Mindful of the tyranny first of Egypt and Babylon against the Jews, and then of the Roman Empire, early Nazarenes and Christians addressed suffering which God knows and God’s Son experienced in sacrificial death. These biblical teachings of ultimate triumph over adversity speak first of the trials and tribulation that believers experience. Symbolically, these last times of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem offer the cyclic promise of redemption through struggle, concluding with the end of the earth and its people and their time, followed by Gods’s eternal time of peace.

Luther in his Small Catechism said that the Morning Prayer should begin with the Sign of the Cross, followed by the saying of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer ( The Morning devotion concludes with the “singing a hymn, like that of the Ten Commandments [Dies sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot], or whatever your devotion may suggest,” he says. The Evening Prayer repeats the same sign and sayings with a petition for forgiveness. Settings of the Morning hymns are also known as hymns of gratitude and expressions of general theology, as well as a petition for divine guidance during the day.

These chorales were listed at the end of the Bach Weimar Orgelbüchlein (Ob.) template of the hymns of the church year, as Morning Hymns (nos. 143-147) and Grace at Meals (nos. 152-155). Martin Luther instituted the concept of these devotional prayer chorales at the end of his Catechism of church teachings and practices. These two categories are found in Bach’s Leipzig chorale book, the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682, as Morgengesänge and Abendgesänge (nos. 190-212), Vor dem Essen (nos. 213-217, and Nach dem Essen (nos. 218-228). They follow the Ten Commandments and Penitence and precede Justification, which are followed by the omnes tempore (Ordinary Time) theme of “Christian Life and Conduct and concluding with Last Days, Resurrection of the Dead, & Eternal Life (nos. 390-402), followed by Songs for School Students, Liturgy, and Miscellaneous (403-432). Bach set 13 of the Morning and Evening Songs in the NLGB (nos. 190-212). In the Schemelli Songbook of 1736, these devotional morning and evening hymns are nos. 410-441. Meanwhile, Bach set 29 four-part chorales from “realizations of two–part settings from the Schemelli Gesangbuch,” says Luke Dahn in “Four–part Realizations of Two–Part Schemelli Chorales,”

Bach’s Last Chorale: Vor deinen Thron

Most representative of the daily prayers are the two closely associated chorales related to the theme of “Death and Dying,” with their similar text form: "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein" (When we are in utmost need) and “Vor/Für deinen Thron tret ich hiermit” (Before thy throne I now appear). "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein" in seven stanzas was created in the mid-16th century Reformation and is found in the NLGB as No. 277, "Cross, Persecution and Tribulation.” “Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit” (Fischer-Tümpel II: 409-10, EKG 486) was written a century later in 15 stanzas involving Trinitarian addresses, thanksgiving and eternal life. Although not found in the NLGB, it was a representative devotional hymn in Bach’s time. It is widely known as Bach’s so-called “death-bed chorale,” which began as the brief Weimar Orgelbüchlein chorale prelude (Ob. 100), "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein," BWV 641 ( This was expanded to a “Leipzig” chorale prelude, BWV 668(a), (

Bach renamed and altered it as “Vor deinen Thron,” the last music in his Art of the Fugue, published posthumously ( In other hymnbooks such as Freylinghausen’s Geist-reiches Gesangbuch (Halle 1708), the text of "Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein” also was associated with other melodies besides Luther’s in its original use, while the succeeding chorale, “Vor deinen Thron,” also had other melodic associations. In both chorales the identified melody also had other, subsequent textual associations, as was the practice increasingly in chorale history from the Reformation onward. Debates still continue among Bach scholars as to which setting was composed first, BWV 668 or 668a (sometimes used interchangeably and with either text incipit), although the former is a revision and exists in an incomplete manuscript (anonymous copyist) of 25 1/2 bars. Each has a different incipit and are variant settings.

The original chorale “Vor deinen Thron” was first published by Justus Gesenius and David Denicke in the New Ordentlich Gesang-Buch (Hanover, 1646), and is entitled “Am Morgen, Mittag und Abend kan man singen” (For use morning, mid-day, and evening), says Charles S. Terry.1 “Its authorship is attributed, on certain grounds, to Bodo von Hodenberg” (1604-1650). “The hymn had its proper melody (Zahn, No. 669) since 1695, but neither hymn nor melody was in general use.” The text of the 15 four-line stanzas is set to the melody, “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir” (Luther’s 1529 German Te Deum), Geneva 1551, based on a 15th c. melody (Zahn 368). The melody source is “Or sus, serviteurs,” Pseaumes octante trois de David (Geneva 1551). Bacxh set this melody as plain chorales BWV 326, and 327 ( Bach also set the “Vor deinen Thron” text as a free-standing plain chorale, BWV 327 (,

In 1736 Georg Christian Schemelli placed the “Vor deinen Thron” text in the Schemelli Gesangbuch section under “Morgenlieder” in his hymn book, “with a provision for evening application in Stanza 11,” says Anne Leahy in her “Great 18” monograph.2 The current Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch (EKG) includes only six stanzas and places it in the section, “Tod und Ewigkeit” (Death and Eternity), observes Mark S. Bighley.3

A hymn of benediction, “Vor deinen Thron” is an extended prayer that begins with a petition as a reference to the benediction from Numbers 6:26, “the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (KJV), observes Leahy (Ibid.: 267). The next nine stanzas address the Trinity, three each to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Stanza 11 thanks the Trinitarian God for all the good one for the believer, while Stanza 12 asks for a continuation of these blessings for the days to come,” she says. Stanzas 13 and 14 ask for a true Christian life, “with release from the guilt of sin, igniting faith and love with hope in the life to come.” The final Stanza 15 “asks for a blessed death” and refers back to the opening Stanza, looking on the face of God, the countenance (angesichte) in the closing Christian benediction (

Which stanza did Bach emphasize most in his musical treatment?, asks Leahy, whose book examines all 18 chorale preludes from this perspective. “As Bach drew close to the end of his life, he would choose to depict the deeply personal and eschatologically strong Stanza in the final composition in this collection,” she says (Ibid.: 278). “In effect the sinner is asking for salvation and forgiveness of sin, as in stanza 6 of” Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein.

"Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein,” BWV 668, is a plea of forgiveness in the seven-stanza text of Paul Eber (1564), based on Jehoshaphat's prayer in 2 Chronicles 20, set to the Louis Bourgeois 1543 melody (Zahn 394, BCW melody information, Bach set the Louis Bourgeois melody in the plain chorales, BWV 431 in F Major and BWV 432 in G Major, as well as in the organ chorale preludes of the Weimar Orgelbüchlein collection, BWV 641 in F Major, under the heading "Christian Life and Conduct." It is possible that the two plain chorales and the organ chorale prelude (, were performed during Leipzig services on the 16th Sunday after Trinity, where the four Cantatas for that day, BWV 161, 95, 8, and 27, were performed.

John Elliot Gardiner completed his 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage with a vocal version of “Vor deinen Thron” (, he shows in his 2009 liner notes commentary.4 <<This four-part chorale, F W Marpurg tells us in his posthumous second edition to the Art of Fugue (1752), Bach ‘dictated in his blindness to the pen of one of his friends’. This romantic account is dented by the existence of at least two earlier versions of a chorale prelude (BWV 641 and BWV 668a). Proof that Bach was occupied with unfinished works during his final illness exists, so that it is possible that he did ‘dictate’ at least the imitative passages in the three-voice sections (absent in BWV 641), the excision of some of the filigree ornamentation in the treble line, and a few smaller refinements including the exquisite concluding coda. Whatever the factual basis, nothing can diminish the heart-stopping beauty of this two-versed envoi, its original words ‘Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein’ changed to the more apt ‘Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich hiermit’, to which the melody was also habitually linked. That has the ring of truth about it: the man whose entire creative life had been devoted towards achieving musical perfection, here making final corrections and adjustments during his last moments of consciousness spent preparing for his own characteristically Lutheran ‘good’ death. It epitomises that ‘unearthly serenity’ which Edward Said identified as the hallmark of late style and last works.>>

Bach Morning, Christmas Hymn Settings5

Five Bach settings of Morning Song plain chorales and Schemelli sacred songs (nos. 410-429) are found in the NLGB as morning songs and are listed in the Orgelbüchlein. They include a pietist setting for the Nativity found in the Christmas Oratorio and an early Reformation morning hymn of Johann Kolros, as well as an English setting still in use, “My inmost heart now raises,” and a personal song setting of Michael Praetorius. One chorale setting also is listed in the NLGB as a Morning song but not in the Orgelbüchlein, “Ich dank dir, Gott, für deine Wohltat” ; BWV 346(PC)

“Gott des Himmels und der Erden”

“Gott des Himmels und der Erden” (God of Earth and Heaven) is a popular Morning Hymn (1643, Ob 143) of organist and pietist hymn writer Heinrich Albert (1604-1651), who composed the associated melody (Zahn 3614). Bach set the Albert melody to the pietist poet Johann Franck (1618-1677, 1655, Nativity Hymn text, “Ihr Gestirn, ihr hohlen Lufte” (Her stars, her high airs), closing ninth stanza, “Zwar ist solche Herzensstube” (Indeed such a room in my heart)6 as a plain chorale ( which closes Part 5, The Wise Men and Herod, Matthew 2:13-23) of the Christmas Oratorio for the Sunday after New Year, 2 January 1735). “Gott des Himmels und der Erden” is found in. the NLGB as No. 1769 with a setting of Johann Crüger, and is listed in the in the Orgelbüchlein as Ob. 143 but not set.

Bach also set the Johann Franck text to the associated melody (Zahn 3703, of Christoph Peter 1655 in the 1736 Schemelli Song Book as BWV 476 (NBA No. 15; Schemelli No. 197), under the rubric “Birth of Jesus Christ.”7 The two Bach settings are found at

Albert8 “published in eight Parts his Arien oder Melodeyen Etlicher theils Geistlicher theils Weltlicher (Konigsberg, 1638-50), says Charles S. Terry.9 The Hymn “Gott des Himmels,” says Terry, “was first published in Part v. of that collection in 1642. For all but the last two bars (which are closer to the Darmstadt Cantional of 1687) Bach gives the tune (with modifications necessitated by the rhythm of the words) as it appears in Daniel Vetter’s Leipzig Hymn-Book (1713). Bach has not used the melody elsewhere” (BWV 248/53,

Early Morning Hymn

One of the earliest morning hymns is (c. 1535) is “Ich dank’ dir, lieber Herre” (I thank you, dear Lord, Ob 144) of the poet and teacher Johann Kolros (c1487-1558). It is a nine 8-line stanza general Morning Hymn, set to the associated melody (Anon. 1662, Zahn 5354b) and is based on the secular song Entlaubt ist uns der Walde (1532).10 It was published in Valentin S. Schumann’s Geistliche lieder auffs new gebessert und gemehrt (Leipzig, 1539). “In 1544 Johann Roh or Horn attached it to his Hymn, ‘Lob’ Gott getrost mit Singen,’ in his Ein Gesangbuch der Bruder inn Behemen und Merherrn” (Nürnberg, 1544). In a simplified form the tune was attached to Kolross’ Hymn in the 1662 (Frankfort) Praxis Pietatis Melica,” says Charles S. Terry.11 It is fdound inb the NLGB as No. 191, Morning Song, and is listed in the Orgelbüchlein as Ob. 144 but not set.

Bach set “Ich dank’ dir, lieber Herre” as three variant plain chorales: “Cantata 37, Wer da gläubet und getauft wird” (Whoever believes and is baptised, Mark 16:16) (Ascension, 1724), No. 6 in A Major, Stanza 4, “Den Glauben mir verleihe”Grant me faith); as well as in BWV 347 in A Major, and BWV 348 in B-Flat Major. He also used Stanza 6, “Dein Wort laß mich bekennen” (Let me forget your word), to close Cantata BWV 147a, “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and mouth and deed and life), for the 4th Sunday in Advent 1716, set to the Salomo Franck text ( A realization of Cantata 147a is found in Carus 31/147 by Uwe Wolf (transposed to C Major; Stuttgart, 1966), using BWV 348.12 Speculation also suggests that BWV 348 may be the setting for Picander cycle published text (P.20), Sei getreu bis in den Tod, for Sexagesimae 1728. It also is possible that BWV 347 was presented in 1731 during a reperformance of Cantata 37.

“My inmost heart now raises”

“Aus meines Herzens Grunde” (From my heart’s sake) is a Morning song of Georg Niege (1525-1589, (, which was set c.1586 with an anonymous (before 1598) melody based on a 16th Century melody (Zahn 5269), published in the New Catechismus Gesangbüchlein (Hamburg 1598). It was previously attributed to Johann Matthesius ( The seven 8-line stanza is a Morning Song of thanks for his life. It is also set as a four-stanza Morning Hymn in English, “My inmost heart now raises,” of Catherine Winkworth ( and is currently found in the Lutheran Hymnal, based on Psalm 118:1 ( It was set by Bach as a plain chorale, BWV 269 ( and is listed in the NLGB as No. 190 under Morning Songs and in the Orgelbüchlein as Ob. 145 but not set.

Michael Preatorius Hymn

“Ich dank’ dir schon durch deinen Sohn” (I thank Thee, Lord, through Thy dear Son) is a personal morning song in ten 4-line stanzas of Michael Praetorius (1571-1621),14 based on the 1586 Leipzig text of F. Burkhart. Praetorius set his melody, published in Musae Sioniae, Part 8 (Wolfenbüttel 1610), which is based on the Bohemian Brethren hymnbook (Nürnberg c1580, Zahn 247). Bach set this hymn as a plain chorale, BWV 349,, It is found in the NLGB as No. 195 as is listed in the Orgelbüchlein as Ob. 146 but not set. The Praetorius setting is in four parts and lists the text source as Zacharius Berwaldt Gesangbuch (Leipzig 1582). Buxtehude set the hymn as a chorale prelude (BuxWV 195,

“Das walt’ mein Gott”

“Das walt’ mein Gott, Vater, Sohn und heiliger Geist” (So rules my God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is a Morning Song in eight 6-line stanzas by writer and pastor Basilius Förtsch (d.1619) to the associated melody (Zahn 4217)15 and found in the Cantionale sacrum, Part 2 (Gotha 1648). It is found in the NLGB as No. 201, Morning Song, and listed in the Orgelbüchlein as Ob. 147 but not set. Bach set the hymn as a plain chorale, BWV 291 (, A similar melody with no text setting is catalogued as BWV 520, but now considered spurious, along with Sacred Songs, BWV 517-23. The two-part setting with figured bass is printed in Terry’s Four-Part Chorales of J. S. Bach (Ibid.), No. 414, text by David von Schweinitz in 12 seven-line stanzas (1650), with the melody found in Bach student Johann Ludwig Krebs’ manuscript of five hymn-settings.

“Ich dank dir, Gott”

“Ich dank dir, Gott, für deine Wohltat” (I thank thee, God, for thy Good deeds) is a Morning hymn of theologian Johannes Freder (1510-1562)16 in three 9-line stanzas (1552), set to the associated Cyriakus Spanenberg melody (Zahn 8090a-b), published in the Christliches Gesangbüchlein (Eisleben 1568). It is found in the NLGB as No. 200 and Bach set it as a plain chorale, BWV 346 (,

Other Morning Songs

The remaining five settings of Morning Songs not found in the NLGB involve three plain chorale settings and two Schmelli sacred songs. These include another Rist/Crüger setting, “Gott, der du selber bist das Licht,” and hymns of Jakob Fabricius, “Ich danke dir, o Gott, in deinem Throne”; Martin Opitz, “Auf, auf! Die rechte Zeit ist hier”; and Paul Gerhardt, “Du güldne Sonne voll Freud und Wonne.”

“Dank sei Gott in der Höhe” (Thanks be to God on High) is a Morning song of writer-theologian Johann Mühlmann (1600-1651)17 in seven 8-line stanzas (1618) and based on Psalm 86:12, which is set to the Bartholomäus Gessius melody (Zahn 5391), published in the Christliches Hauß und Tisch Musica (Table Talk music [Grace at Meals]; Frankfurt/Oder 1605). It was set by Bach as a plain chorale, BWV 287, It is known in English as “While yet the morn in breaking,” by Catherine Winkworth (, with the music, “Geduld, die Soll’n Wir Haben,” in the Geistliche Lieder (Frankfurt, 1607). It is found in the Lutheran Hymnal.

“Gott, der du selber bist das Licht” (God, thou art thyself the light) is another Rist/Crüger BAR Form (1641) setting with 15 eight-line stanzas and the Crüger melody (Zahn 5814) published in Praxis Pietatis Melica (Berlin 1647).18 This prayer for daily protection (not in NLGB) was set by Bach as a plain chorale, BWV 316 (,

“Ich danke dir, o Gott, in deinem Throne” (I thank thee, God, on thy throne) is a Jakob Fabricius (1593-1654) 15-stanza 1623 hymn (not in NLGB).19 Fabricius is best known for his sacred song, "Versage nicht, O Häuflein" (O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe, It is set to the melody (Zahn 3199), “Mein Hüter und mein Hirt ist Gott der Herre” ( My guardian and shepherd is God my Lord), a paraphrase of Psalm 23 of Louis Bourgeois in Psaumes cinquante de David (Lyon 1647) and Harmoniae sacrae (Görlitz 1613). It also is set as an evening song (Terry, Ibid.: 192; Fischer Tümpel i:219). Bach set it as a free-standing chorale, BWV 350 (,

“Auf, auf! Die rechte Zeit ist hier” (Arise, the time has come) has a text of author and teacher Martin Opitz (1597-1639)20 in seven 4-line stanzas (1628, Fischer Tümpel i:293) to an anonymous melody (Tooth 705, This prayer for the morning and a day of righteousness is found in the Schemelli sacred songbook under the category “Von Christi Zukunft ins Fleish” (The future of Christ in the flesh), Bach setting, BWV 440 (, It also is appropriate in Schmelli as an advent song.

“Du güldne Sonne voll Freud und Wonne” (The golden sun full of joy and delight) is a morning blessing hymn with a 1666 text of noted hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676)21 and a melody by Johann Georg Ebeling. It was first published in a collection of Ebeling's melodies for texts by Gerhardt, Pauli Gerhardi Geistliche Andachten, printed by Christoph Runge (Berlin 1666/67). The song was published with a different melody (Zahn 8015) by Jacob Hintze in the 1671 edition of Johann Crüger's hymnal Praxis Pietatis Melica. The hymn has twelve 10-line stanzas (aabbcddeec), is found in the Evangelisches Gesangbuch (EG 449, EKG 346) and has been set to various other melodies ( Bach set it in Schemelli as a morning song, BWV 451 (, Stanzas 1, 2, & 12;

Evening hymns

Evening hymns were among the most popular settings of prayers in Bach’s time and beyond. Known as Abend-Gesange, they also from the time of Luther’sCatechism were associated with Passion texts as well as joyous themes. Beginning with Luther’s “Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht,” which uses the old Latin Hymn Christe qui lux es et dies, some of the best known that followed and also were set by Bach, include: “Christ, der du bist der helle Tag,” the popular and versatile “Werde munter, mein Gemuthe” (also known as “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring), and “Nun ruhen alle Wälder.” These are listed in the 1682 NLGB, the c.1714 Orgelbüchlein (but not set), and the 1736 Schemelli (nos 430-446), without music.

“Christ, der du bist der helle Tag” (Christ, you are the bright day) is an Erasmus Alberus evening hymn (1556) in seven 4-line stanzas to the associated melody (Zahn 384),22 based on the popular 6th century Ambrosian Lenten Compline, Christe qui lux es et dies (O Christ who art the light and day), first published in the Die Morgengeseng fur die Kinder (Nürnberg c. 1556), says Charles S. Terry (Organ Works, Ibid.) Gesangbuch der Böhm Brüder (Eisleben 1568). The Latin hymn (NLGB 204), set by various composers, is also known as the Evening Song Te lucis ante terminum (To Thee before the close of day, The hymn “Christ, der du bist der helle Tag” is found in the NLGB as No. 205, listed in the Orgelbüchlein as Ov. 148, and in Schemelli as No 431 (without music) — all as Evening Hymns. Bach composed three settings ( plain chorale BWV 273 (, organ Chorale Variations (Partita) BWV 766 ( and as Neumeister chorale prelude, BWV 1120 (

“Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht" (Christ, you are the day and light) is a Martin Luther Catechism evening song composed in 1526 to the early Latin hymn Christe qui lux es et dies with the associated melody (Zahn 343). The text was published in Wittenberg in 1525 (seven-stanzas, EG 469, EKG 354), attributed to Wolfgang Mueslin (1526) and published in Joseph Klug's Geistliche Lieder, 1543. The English hymn version is “O Christ, who art the light and day.” This hymn, "Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht” is found in the NLGB No. 205 (based on Psalm 4, Hear me when I call, O God, KJV), Catechism Evening Song, which also is a Passion hymn, attributed to Martin Luther (1529), published in Wittenberg 1533 and Valentin Bapst (1545). It is found in the Schemelli as No. 430.

About 1700, Bach set this melody as a Neumeister organ chorale prelude, BWV 1096 (, possibly by Johann Pachelbel. Bach also set this hymn as a liturgical plain chorale, BWV 272 in g minor (, (Rilling vol. 85, The melody also is listed but not set in the Orgelbüchlein, No. 149 (Evening Song, The melody is related to the anonymous 1535 Passion melody, "Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ, dass du für uns gestorben" (We thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have died for us). About 1714, Bach set the same melody "Wir danken dir . . . ," in the Weimar Orgelbüchlein organ chorale prelude OB 26, BWV 623, as a Passion hymn (

“Werde munter, mein Gemuthe” (Be alert , my soul), also known as “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,” is the Johann Rist 1642 eight 8-line stanza BAR form hymn set to the associated 1642 melody (Zahn 6551) of Johann Schop.23 It was first published in Rist’s Johann Himlischer Lieder mit Melodeien, Part 3 (Luneburg 1642). It is found in the NLGB as Evening Song No 208 and in the Orgelbüchlein, No. 150. A related melody Passion setting is the pietist Johann Mentzer 1717 “Der am Kreuz ist mein Liebe” (There on the cross is my love). The text only is found in the Schemelli as No. 434. Bach uses the melody in the St. Matthew Passion (no. 40) and Cantatas 55, 146, 147, 154, as well as plain chorales BWV 359 and 360, and the Neumeister prelude, BWV 1118

“Nun ruhen alle Wälder” (Now all forests are resting) is the Paul Gerhardt 1647 Evening Song in nine 6-line stanzas BAR Form hymn set to the popular evening song of Heinrich Isaac (1490) “O Welt, ich muß dich lassen” (O world, I must leave you ( Gerhardt’s hymn (EG 477) was first published in 1647 in the Praxis Pietatis Melica by Johann Crüger, where Gerhardt’s Passiontide hymn, "O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben" (O world, see here your life), set to the same Isaac melody, also was published (,_sieh_hier_dein_Leben). “Nun ruhen alle Wälder” is found in the NLGB as an Evening Song, No. 209), in the Orgelbüchlein as No. 151 (not set), and in Schemelli as No. 435 (no music). Bach set the hymn as a plain chorale, BWV 399 (,, and as a Miscellaneous organ chorale prelude, BWV 756 (

Other Evening Songs

Although not listed or set in the Orgelbüchlein, the following Evening Songs were set by Bach, most notably “Was frag ich nach der Welt” (Why should I have any concern about the world) as chorale Cantata BWV 94 and other settings, as well as two settings as plains chorales and Schemelli sacred Songs (“Der Tag ist him ” and “Der Tag mit seinem Lichte”), three as plain chorales (“Die Nacht is kommen,” “Meinen Augen schließ ich jetzt” and “Nun sich der Tag geendet hat”), and one only in Schemelli (“Der lieben Sonne Licht und Pracht”).

“Was frag ich nach der Welt”

“Was frag ich nach der Welt” (Why should I have any concern about the world) is the poet Balthasar Kindermann 1644 Evening Song of eight 8-line stanzas (EKG 383) set to the Ahasverus Fritsch 1679 Evening Song melody (Zahn 5138, NLGB 202), “O Gott, du frommer Gott” (Oh God, you righteous god), with multiple texts and melody settings.25 “Was frag ich nach der Welt” does not appear in the NLGB but is found in the Dresden hymn schedules, says Güther Stiller.26 It is a more contemporary “Evening Song” hymn similar to Bach’s first chorale Cantata, BWV 20, Johann Rist’s “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort.” (O Eternity, thou word of thunder).

Bach the hymn as a chorale cantata, BWV 94, for the 9th Sunday after Trinity 1724, with its repeated refrain ( The day’s biblical readings refer to the Epistle (I Cor. 10:6-13) warning against idolatry and apostasy while the Gospel parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-9) showing the antithesis between worldly values and Jesus. The phrase “Why should I have any concern about the world” was popular in Baroque poetry, emphasizing belief in God’s strength (Psalm 73:25f) and 1 John 2:15, love of God, not the world of vanity. Bach set the Fritsch melody as a plain chorale, BWV 64/4, BWV 399, and BWV 1125, as well as organ chorale BWV 767 (miscellaneous).

Two Alternate Song Settings

“Der Tag ist him, die Sonne gehet nieder” (The day is over, the sun goes down) is a 1712 nine 4-line stanza song of care and protection by pietist hymnwriter Johann Christoph Rube (c1665-1746), based on the Guillaume Franc 1542 Geneva Psalter melody (Zahn 923), “O höchster Gott, o unser lieber Herre” (O supreme God, O our dear Lord), and also published in Leipzig in 1592.26 It is known in English as “It is a thing most wonderful” (EG 46). Its alternate title is “Die Sonn hat sich mit ihren Ganz gewendet” (The sun has turned with its brilliance) set to the Joshua Stegmann 1630 seven 4-line stanza hymn of thanks and heavenly rest, with the same melody.27 Neither is found in the NLGB. Bach set “Der Tag ist hin, die Sonne gehet nieder” as Schemelli Song, BWV 447 (No. 40, NBA No. 3;, Bach set “Die Sonn hat sich mit ihren Ganz gewendet” as a plain chorale, BWV 297 (, The composite setting of both hymns is

“Der Tag mit seinem Lichte” (The day with his light) is another Paul Gerhard Evening Hymn in eight 10-line stanzas (Praxis Pietatis Melica, 1666) to the associated melody (Zahn 7522) of writer Jakob Hintze, Geistliche Wasserquelle (Berlin 1670).28 Bach set this in the Schemelli Songbook, (no. 43), BWV 448; melody information, A plain chorale, BWV deest: Wiemer 5, is attributed to Bach in the Johann Ludwig Dietel Collection ((, 2:04).

“Die Nacht is kommen” (The night is coming) is a Petrus Herbert (1530-1571) 1566 Evening Song in six 7-line stanzas (Wackernagel, iv, 442) to the associated melody in the Bohemian Brethren Hymnbook, based on a 16th century melody (Zahn 5001).29 The last stanza is a versification of the Lord’s Prayer: “Father! Your name / will be praised by us. / Your wealth comes, / your will is proved. Give bread, / forgive the sin, temptation, / Redeem us, Amen.” In Johann Hermann Schein's Cantiona, 1627, it appears as No. 99, with an additional stanza not by Herbert, which begins, “Denn wir kein besser” His four-part setting in the NLGB is No. 207. Bach set the melody as a plain chorale, BWV 296 ( It is included in as Stanza 5 in the Winkworth setting, “The night is come, where we shall rest”

“Meinen Augen schließ ich jetzt” (My eyes I will not close) is a devotional hymn in six 4-line stanzas of popular hymn writer Matthäus Appeles von Löwenstein (1594-1648), published in the Breslauer Gesangbuch in 1644 to his associated melody (Zahn 1067).30 A prayer of thanks and acceptance, it is found in the NLGB as No. 210. Bach set it as a plain chorale, BWV 379 (,

“Nun sich der Tag geendet hat” (Now the day has ended) is an Evening Hymn in composite text of nine 4-line stanzas of composer Adam Philipp Krieger (1634-1666), Stanza 1 (1665); Johann Friedrich Herzog (1647-1699, Stanzas 2-7 and 9 (1622); and a Leipzig addition, Stanza 8 (1693), set to the Krieger melody (1665, Zahn 212, Neu Arien) but not found in the NLGB.31 Bach set this prayer of protection and acceptance as a plain chorale, BWV 396 ( It is found in the Lutheran Hymnal as

“Now that the day has reached its close.”

“Der lieben Sonne Licht und Pracht” (The dear sun’s light and glory) is a nine 8-line stanza BAR from Evening Hymn of Christian Scriver (1629-1693), published in 1684, and set to the anonymous melody (Zahn 5659) in the Freylinghausen Geist-reiches Gesangbuch (Halle 1708). 32 Bach set it as a sacred song, BWV 446, in the Schemelli (no. 39),,


1 Charles S. Terry, Bach’s Chorals, Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works (Cambridge University Press, 2017.; German text,; English translation,
2 Ann Leahy, J. S. Bach’s “Leipzig “ Chorale Preludes: Music, Text Theology, Ed. Robin A. Leaver, Contextual Box Studies (Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011, 265).
3 Mark S. Bighley, The Lutheran Chorales in the Organ Works of J. S. Bach (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1986: 240f).
4 Gardiner notes,; BCW Recording details,
5 Recordings: A Book of Chorale Settings, Helmut Rilling,, Details,, Ch-10.CH-12b.
6 Source: Johann Franck German text,; English (on-line) translation,
7 BWV 476 setting,, published in Peters’ Andachts Symbeln (Frieberg 1655).
8 Source:; German text ; English (on-line) translation
9 Charles S. Terry, Bach’s Chorals. Part I: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the “Passions” and Oratorios (Cambridge University Press, 2017, The words of the Choral are the ninth stanza of Johann Franck’s Morning Hymn, “Ihr Gestirn, ihr hohlen Lufte.” His hymns, 110 in number, were collected in his Geistliches Sion (Guben, 1674)
10 Source: German text and notes,; English (on line) translation,; melody source,; biography,
11 Charles S. Terry Bach’s Chorals. Vol. 2, The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts (Cambridge University Press, 2017,, Cantata XXXVII.
12 See: Uwe Wolf, “Ein ‘neue’ Bach-Kantate zum 4.Advent: Zur Rekonstruction der Weimarer Adventskantate ‘Herz und Mund Tat und Leben, BWV 147a,” Musik und Kirche 66 (1996); also see: Klaus Häfner in “Der Picander-Jahrgang,” Bach-Jahrbuch, vol. 61 (1975: 251).
13 Source: (, BWV 269); music,; Niege biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation.; see also Charles S. Terry, The Four-Part Chorales of J. S. Bach (London, Oxford University Press, 1929: No. 31)
14 Michael Praetorius biography,; German text; English (on-line) translation,; commentary (English on-line translation),; Praetorius setting, (Leipzig 1582;
15 Basilius Förtsch biography, Sacred Song, BWV 520: German text,; English (on-line translation,; sources,
BGAXXXIX & XLIII/2, NBA KB V/4; music,; also see Spitta (,+vater+sheet+music&source=bl&ots=-n5SJA6l7S&sig=LUpSFN882cQEht4q0mBWpKH-csE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiDuaO_g_7XAhVE6GMKHQMWDIY4ChDoAQg0MAI#v=onepage&q&f=false.
16 Freder biography,; German text,;jsessionid=4BAEEE28B3576B7B1358E8CDCD9C1226?XSL.Style=detail; English (on-line) translation,
17 Johann Mühlmann biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation,
18 German text,, English (on-line) translation),
19 Jakob Fabricius biography (; German texts,;jsessionid=BE133B99EED8E93BC464A81CC3770314?XSL.Style=detail; English (on-line) translation
20 Martin Opitz biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation,
21 Source,üldne_Sonne_voll_Freud_und_Wonne; Gerhardt biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation,
22 German text,; English (on-line) translation,; see: Peter Williams, The Organ Music of J. S. Bach, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2003: 499f),,+der+du+bist+der+helle+Tag+Peter+Williams&source=bl&ots=yaYZLH9i-s&sig=NDUG-PnTT5y7RpqlpaJnUTtkJYE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIsfCf3ofYAhVN7GMKHSZKA_4Q6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=Christ%2C%20der%20du%20bist%20der%20helle%20Tag%20Peter%20Williams&f=false.
23 German text and Francis Browne English translation,; melody and text information and use by other composers, BCW
24 “Nun ruhen alle Wälder,”; German text,; English (on-line) translation,; melody (Zahn 2293) and text information, BCW; Gerhardt biography,
25 Balthasar Kindermann biography, BCW; German text and Francis Browne English translation,; melody and text information, BCW
26 Günther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, trans. Herbert J. A. Bouman, Daniel F. Poellot, Hilton C. Oswald, ed. Robin A. Leaver (St. Louis: Concordia, 1985: 243).
26 Johann Christoph Rube biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation,
27 Joshua Stegmann,; German text; English (on-line) translation,
28 Jakob Hintze biography, BCW German text,; English (on-line) translation,
29 Petrus Herbert biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation, see above, “Die Nacht is kommen.”
30 Matthäus Appeles von Löwenstein biography,; German text,' English (on-line) translation,
31 “Nun sich der Tag geendet hat,” Krieger biography, BCW; German text,; Engli,; also: Herzog, details,, text,
32 Scriver biography,; German text,; English (on-line) translation,; melody information,


To come: Chorales and Sacred Songs for Grace at Meals, Good Weather, Life Eternal (Catechism: Justification), and Eternity.


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Last update: Friday, January 12, 2018 11:43