Musical contribution - August 2023
Seelenbräutigam - Max Reger (1873-1916)
As we already covered works by Max Reger in 2012 (May) and 2016 (April), we will only mention the fact that we’re commemorating the 150th anniversary of his birth this year and that, as a Roman Catholic, he was mainly involved with Protestant church music.
Both the text and melody of Seelenbräutigam date from around 1720. This song was later mainly known under the title ‘Jesu, geh voran auf der Lebensbahn’. Although written for general use, it has been of great comfort to many during weddings and particularly during funeral services.
Reger used a 12/8 time signature for his composition, giving it a somewhat pastoral feel. At the top of this arrangement he wrote: ‘slow but not dragging’. It’s as though Reger wanted to say: ‘Following Jesus doesn’t need to be rushed (as He offers peace) but it certainly shouldn’t be laboured either.’
A 3-manual organ is prescribed:
II: beautiful, gentle accompaniment (as if from afar)
I: soft reed or a principal 8’
However, the piece can also be performed well on a 2-manual organ. In that case, we recommend playing the accompaniment to the melody with a soft 8’ + 4’ or, for example 3 x 8’ and then each time Reger prescribes the 3rd manual, close the 4’ or (in the case of 3 x 8’) one or two 8’.
Enjoy this stunning work during the summer and also read the text carefully.
Habe Dank für deine Liebe,
Die mich zieht aus reinem Triebe
Von dem Sündenschlamm,
Jesu, Gottes Lamm.
Jesu, geh voran
auf der Lebensbahn,
und wir wollen nicht verweilen,
Dir getreulich nachzueilen.
Führ uns an der Hand
bis ins Vaterland!