BWV 655

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Trio super: Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend

BWV 655 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg

This work is a real highlight within the genre of the chorale trio according to Leo van Doeselaar.

Bach with a dash of Vivaldi

The quick-paced bass line and jubilant upper parts lend an Italian touch to this trio.

What a concise and airy piece! Unlike his predecessors, Bach did not often arrange chorales as trios. But here he does, and this infectious work for two keyboards and pedal is a nice addition to his six popular organ trios, BWV 525-530. Of course, Bach would not be Bach if he did not bend the rules slightly to suit himself. For instance, he abandons the technique of weaving the song melody throughout the piece in long note values, as was customary up to then. The melody does function as basic material for the two higher parts, even turning up as a salute in the bass at the end of this arrangement. However, this approach gave Bach enough freedom to add a dash of Italian verve. The jubilant upper parts are effectively propelled along by a Vivaldian quick-paced bass line.

Bach made no fewer than five arrangements of this chorale, which indicates the special bond he felt with the text. ‘Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’ is a hymn of praise with no downside – its message is: praise the Lord, as he shows us the way of truth. The climax comes in the third verse, which invites you to sing along with the host of angels and alludes to ‘eternal joy and blissful light’ in the future. So it comes as no surprise that in order to underline that wonderful future, Bach presents us with several rare high Cs.

18 Choräle/Leipziger Choräle, BWV 651-668
In the last ten years of his life, Bach gathered together and completed a series of eighteen chorale arrangements, presumably planning to have them published, just like the third part of the Clavier-Übung in 1739. It concerns a selection of his compositions from much earlier years, when he was working as an organist in Weimar, Arnstadt and Mühlhausen. The collection became known as the 18 Choräle or Leipziger Choräle.


Trio super: Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend

organ work (chorale arrangement)

18 Choräle/Leipziger Choräle



Special notes
There is also an earlier, more austere version of this composition from the Weimar period: BWV 655a.

Cast & Crew

release date 9 October 2015
recording date 21 October 2014
LOCATION St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg
ORGANIST Leo van Doeselaar
organ Various builders between the 15th and 19th century. Restoration: Flentrop 2013.
Producer Frank van der Weij
FILM DIRECTOR Jan Van den Bossche
Director of photography Sal Kroonenberg
CAMERA ASSISTANTS Andreas Grotevent, Lucas Lütz
FILM EDITOR Jasper Verkaart
interview Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Vadim Dukart, Andreas Fischer

Vocal Texts




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