BWV 737

All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Vater unser im Himmelreich

BWV 737 performed by Bart Jacobs
St. Bavo's Church, Haarlem

"It's sheer enjoyment: that old style of the 16th century restrained and pious. That's the beauty of this chorale arrangement."

Subdued and timeless

The stop used by Bart Jacobs emphasises the vocal character.

Vater unser im Himmelreich is Luther’s interpretation of Our Father: the only prayer that came directly from Jesus himself and which has thus always had a special place in Christianity. In Bach’s day, besides being used as a hymn during Communion, Vater unser im Himmelreich was also linked to Rogation Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter, which is therefore also the Sunday before Ascension Day, when there were traditional processions through the fields.

Of the various organ arrangements Bach made of this chorale, this is the most subdued and timeless. The piece is written in stile antico – the ‘ancient’, vocal, polyphonic composition style of the sixteenth century.

Here, Bart Jacobs emphasises this archaic character with the cornet stop. Its name and timbre refer to the cornetto, a sixteenth-century wind instrument. The stop makes the organ sound like a brass ensemble from the Renaissance.

And that suits this piece really well, as Bach may have used the ‘ancient style’ here to emphasise the fact that Vater unser im Himmelreich is a prayer. And a prayer implies words and thoughts, either spoken or sung. In fact, this arrangement is a four-part motet in the ancient style and you could easily perform the whole piece in song. Occasionally, there is a slightly more daring harmony, which is all that betrays the fact that this piece is not really a motet from Luther’s day.


Vater unser im Himmelreich

organ work (chorale arrangement)



Cast & Crew

publication date 24 March 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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