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PREFATORY NOTE - Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach’s Chorals, vol. 1 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the “Passions” and Oratorios 
Bach’s Chorals. Part I: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the “Passions” and Oratorios, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 1.
Part of: Bach’s Chorals, 3 vols.
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TO MY FRIEND
printed in great britain
NO other country can vie with Germany in wealth of hymnody. Much of it was pre-Reformation in origin. Most of it was fruit of the spiritual exaltation of the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. In its development the year 1524 is the starting-point—the “crucial year for German Church-music,” Schweitzer calls it1 . It witnessed the publication of the first German Hymn-Book, Etlich Christlich lider Lobgesang, und Psalm (Wittenberg, 1524), which contained eight hymns, set to four melodies. Another, Eyn Enchiridion oder Handbuchlein...geystlicher gesenge und Psalmen, Rechtschaffen und kunstlich verteutscht, was issued at Erfurt, and contained twenty-five hymns, set to sixteen melodies. In the same momentous year Johann Walther published at Wittenberg, under Luther’s direction, his Geystlichegesangk Buchleyn, which contained thirty-two hymns, and forty-three, mostly five-part, musical settings. Twenty-one years later (1545) Valentin Babst published at Leipzig his Geystliche Lieder, the last Hymn-Book that received Luther’s revision. It contained one hundred and twenty-nine numbers and ninety-seven hymn melodies Ninety-five years later Johann Cruger’s Newes vollkomliches Gesangbuch Augspurgischer Confession (Berlin, 1640), which remained in use in Berlin for nearly a century, contained two hundred and forty-eight hymns and one hundred and thirty-five melodies. Johann Cruger’s collection (1697)—Bach was twelve years old then—entitled Andachtiger Seelen geistliches Brand- und Gantz-Opfer. Das ist vollstandiges Gesangbuch in acht unterschiedlichen Theilen, contained more than five thousand hymns, but no melodies. It is a work closely associated with Bach, who possessed the eight volumes and drew his hymns from them. Nearly one hundred years later (1786) an incomplete hymnological index of first lines revealed actually 72,733 German hymns! The Dictionary of Hymnology (1908) estimates that about 10,000 of them have become popular, of which “nearly one thousand are classical and immortal1 .” Bach drew lavishly upon this wealth of material, and for his choral works alone used 208 of the old melodies, of which he wrote actually 389 harmonisations, introducing the majority of them (204) into the “Passions,” Oratorios, Cantatas, and Motetts. The remaining 185 were collected by Bach’s son Karl Philipp Emmanuel (Leipzig,4 Parts, 1784-87) and belonged, presumably, to works of his father which no longer are extant1 .
The Chorals annotated in the following pages occur in Bach’s “Passions” and Oratorios, i.e. the “St Matthew Passion,” the “St John Passion,” the “Christmas Oratorio,” and the “Ascension Oratorio,” or Cantata, “Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen.” The Easter Oratorio, or Cantata, “Kommt, eilet und laufet,” contains no Chorals, and Bach was precluded from introducing them into the Masses and Magnificat2 . These pages therefore exhaust the Choral material used by Bach outside the Cantatas, Motetts, Organ Preludes and Fantasias.
Throughout the four works Bach makes use altogether of forty old hymns or hymn-tunes: twelve for words and melody, eighteen for words only, ten for melody only. In three instances (“Christmas Oratorio,” Nos. 38, 40, 42) he uses a melody of his own.
The following twelve hymns provide both words and melody1 :
The following eighteen hymns provide their words only for the Chorals:
The following ten hymns provide their melody only for the Chorals:
Six hymns or their melodies occur in more than one of the “Passions” and Oratorios:
The words of the identified hymns are by the following seventeen writers, only one of whom, Gottfried Wilhelm Sacer, was Bach’s contemporary:
Throughout the following pages the Bach-Gesellschaft hymn texts have been followed. They have been collated in every case with Carl E. P. Wackernagel’s Das deutsche Kirchenlied von der altesten Zeit bis zu Anfang des XVII. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 5 vols., 1864-77), or Albert Fischer’s Das deutsche evangelische Kirchenlied des siebzehnten Jahrhunderts vollendet und herausgegeben von D. W. Tumpel (Gutersloh, 1904- ). Verbal discrepancies between the original texts and Bach’s versions are noted. The author of the stanza in the “St John Passion,” No. 22, is not identified.
The non-anonymous melodies of the Chorals are, in addition to Bach himself, by the following fourteen composers, none of whom was Bach’s contemporary:
In the following pages the melodies are printed in their earliest known form (see Johannes Zahn, Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder, Gutersloh, 6 vols., 1889-93).
The composers of the following melodies cannot be identified:
On the origin of the melodies of the Reformation hymns the following passages of Schweitzer’s J. S. Bach are illuminating:
“Since we rarely know the history of a melody before it became attached to a hymn, the name of which it henceforth bears, it is difficult to decide which melodies were adopted and which composed by the musicians of the Reformation....On the whole the number of musicians who wrote melodies for the Church was not large, not because at that time there were no musicians capable of the work, but rather because their services were not called for. For a new melody to become a true folk-melody, of the kind that would gain immediate acceptance everywhere, was a difficult process, requiring a long period of time. It was much more natural to impress existing melodies into the service of the Church, sacred melodies at first, and then, when these did not suffice, secular ones. The Reformed Church made the most abundant use of this latter source....For the Reformation it was a question of much more than acquiring serviceable melodies. While it brought the folk-song into religion, it wished to elevate secular art in general. That the object was conversion rather than simple borrowing is shown by the title of a collection that appeared at Frankfort in 1571: ‘Street songs, cavalier songs, mountain songs, transformed into Christian and moral songs, for the abolishing in course of time of the bad and vexatious practice of singing idle and shameful songs in the streets, in fields, and at home, by substituting for them good, sacred, honest words.’...Any foreign melody that had charm and beauty was stopped at the frontier and pressed into the service of the [Church]....When the treasures of melody to be drawn upon were at last exhausted, there came the epoch of the composer. The copious spiritual poetry of the seventeenth century called them to the work....The spirit, however, which dominated music about the beginning of the eighteenth century made it incapable of developing the true church-tune any further. German music got out of touch with German song, and fell further and further under the influence of the more ‘artistic’ Italian melody. It could no longer achieve that naiveté which, ever since the Middle Ages, had endowed it with those splendid, unique tunes....When Bach came on the scene, the great epoch of Choral creation was at an end, like that of the sacred poem. Sacred melodies indeed were still written; but they were songs of the Aria type, not true congregational hymns; an indefinable air of subjectivity pervaded them1 .”
Bach’s Oratorios and “Passions” contain forty-three Chorals: fifteen in the “St Matthew Passion,” twelve in the “St John Passion,” fourteen in the “Christmas Oratorio,” and two in the “Ascension Oratorio.” Of that number the majority (33) are in simple hymn form suitable for congregational use. The remaining ten fall into four categories: (1) Nos. 9, 23, 42, 64 of the “Christmas Oratorio” may be termed Extended Chorals, the lines of the hymn being separated by orchestral interludes. (2) In No. 1 of the “St Matthew Passion” the Choral melody is woven into, independent of, and surges above the doubled chorus and orchestra below. (3) No. 25 of the “St Matthew Passion,” No. 32 of the “St John Passion,” and No. 7 of the “Christmas Oratorio” are alike in this: the hymn (set to a unison melody in the last of them) is part of a dialogue, either commenting upon the narrative of a solo voice, or, as in the “Christmas Oratorio,” No. 7, providing the solo voice with the subject of its reflexions. (4) No. 35 of the “St Matthew Passion” and No. 11 of the “Ascension Oratorio” are Choral Fantasias, the Choral melody being woven into a complicated musical scheme. In the following pages the form and orchestration of every Choral are stated.
The author expresses his indebtedness to the Rev. James Mearns and his erudite articles on German hymnody in the Dictionary of Hymnology. He also cordially thanks his friend Mr Ernest Newman for reading this opusculum in proof, to its advantage. He dedicates it gratefully to another helper, most patient and skilled in Bach lore.
The author reserves for a second Part the Chorals of the Church Cantatas and Motetts.