All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society
Von Himmel kam der Engel schar
Fast angels and slow angels
A Christmas hymn in minor lends a cautious sound to the season.
In compiling his Orgelbüchlein, Bach followed the church calendar. Although useful for the organist, you run the risk of monotony – always cheerful at Christmas and always sad in Passion Week. So Bach would occasionally sprinkle a different sound into the ‘Christmas cluster’, for example. This arrangement of Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schaar, for instance, is in minor despite its joyful theme, as if to emphasise the seriousness of the mystery of faith.
The words of the hymn concerned, written by Luther, tell of the annunciation to the shepherds of Jesus in the manger. The hymn assures us that whoever believes in the true God is safe from sin and death. Bach expresses the angels descending from heaven with quick runs in the alto and tenor parts, and slow runs in the bass. Incidentally, Bach’s manuscript (shown in the interview with Bart Jacobs) reveals another surprise: the ever-broadening coloraturas that characterise the work appear to be a later addition. Just look at how all those notes are squeezed into the bar!
- Von Himmel kam der Engel schar
- organ work
- ca. 1708-1717
Cast & Crew
|Release date||29 September 2017|
|Recording date||22 September 2016|
|Location||St Bavo's Church, Haarlem|
|Music recording||Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt|
|Music edit and mix||Guido Tichelman|
|Camera||Bas Wielenga, Jeroen Simons|
|Lights||Gregoor van de Kamp|
|Interview||Onno van Ameijde|