Front Page Titles (by Subject) Ach Gott und Herr. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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Ach Gott und Herr. - Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach’s Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works 
Bach’s Chorals. Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 3.
Part of: Bach’s Chorals, 3 vols.
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Ach Gott und Herr.
The Lenten hymn, “Ach Gott und Herr,” is attributed to Johann Major of Jena or Martin Rutilius of Weimar. It was published as a broadsheet in 1613, and with the melody in 1625. The composer of the tune is unknown. Johann Crüger reconstructed it (supra) in his Newes vollkomliches Gesangbuch (Berlin, 1640). A major version of his reconstruction appeared fifteen years later (1655). Bach employs it in Cantata 48 (c. 1740), Choralgesange, No. 3, and the first two Organ movements infra, where his text differs from Witt’s (No. 265), which very closely follows the original (1625) version2 .
There are three Organ movements on the melody:
N. xviii. 1. Six mss. of the movement exist, one of them Kirnberger’s and another in the Krebs “Sammelbuch.” A third attributes the movement to Johann Gottfried Walther of Weimar, no doubt incorrectly. A variant text of it is in B.G. xl. 152, of which there are three mss., one of which (Hauser) is inscribed “Vers. 4” and another (Schelble-Gleichauf) “Vers. 3.” The latter ms. contains seven movements on the cantus by Bach and Walther. That Bach communicated to Walther his own treatments of the melody is an obvious inference.
N. xviii. 2. In one of the eleven mss. of the movement (Schelble-Gleichauf) the composition, like No. 2 above, is attributed to Walther and is marked “Vers. 4.” Bach’s authorship does not appear to be in doubt. Ernst Naumann (B.G. xl. Introd. xvii) suggests that Bach communicated it to Walther when they were neighbours in Weimar.
N. xviii. 3. Unlike Nos. 2 and 3 the movement is in a minor key (B mi.) and follows closely the original (1625) and Witt’s versions of the tune. A copy of it in the Krebs mss. is marked “J. S. B.” Another copy is in the Königsberg University Library, among the Walther mss. The facts therefore point to Bach’s composition of all three movements in the Weimar years. In the same period, it is to be observed, Bach included the melody among the Penitential hymns of the Orgelbuchlein (No. 71).
In none of the three movements is there apparent an intention to distinguish the stanzas of the hymn by musical treatment.
[1 ]Chorale Book for England (London, 1865), No. 107. The original hymn has six stanzas of six lines, 1 and 2, 4 and 5, 3 and 6 rhyming.
[2 ] See Bach’s Chorals, Part II. 237, where the 1625 and 1655 texts of the tune are printed.