Music sheet

Musical Contribution – November 2022

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

(LiVE Sampleset: Amsterdam, Vater-Müller)

This month, we would like to present one of the oldest known Advent songs. Martin Luther was a great admirer of this hymn, which was discovered in Erfurt, Germany as early as 1524 and remains the first piece listed in the German Evangelical Hymnbook.

The chorale melody is so richly harmonized and textured in this arrangement that essentially a whole new melody is created, obviously based on the original tune. The result is a wonderfully expressive composition, enhanced by the continuous pedal, which embodies the Advent of our Saviour. 

While listening to the numerous recordings available of this composition, I was struck by the versatility of the choice of registration. While I enjoy most renditions immensely, I always find myself going back to a Larigot or Nazard as the leading stop. I believe the glorious sounds this produces perfectly complement the brilliance of the diminutions.

Many students struggle to figure out the right rhythm, and this becomes progressively easier if you extend the note duration. We are therefore presenting you with this chorale prelude with double whole notes, hoping that as many music lovers as possible will be able to play it this way.