BWV 607

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar

BWV 607 performed by Bart Jacobs
St Bavo's Church, Haarlem

"Bach clearly expresses the 'fluttering' of the angels bringing the good news."

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 Schar, 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!


Vom 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
Organist Bart Jacobs
Organ Christian Müller, 1738
Director Bas Wielenga
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
Music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera Bas Wielenga, Jeroen Simons
Lights Gregoor van de Kamp
Producer Jessie Verbrugh
Interview Onno van Ameijde

Vocal Texts




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