Front Page Titles (by Subject) Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend '. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend ’. - 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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Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’.
The hymn, “Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’,” was first published (stanzas i-iii) in Johann Niedling’s Lutherisch Hand-Büchlein (Altenburg, 1648). It was repeated, with the melody (supra) and the fourth stanza, in the Cantionale Sacrum (Gotha, 1651). The hymn is attributed, on inconclusive evidence, to William II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar. He was born in 1598, studied music, among other subjects, at Jena, fought in the Thirty Years’ War on the Protestant side, and died in 1662. The hymn is entitled “Frommer Christen Hertzens-Seufftzerlein umb Gnade und Beystand des Heiligen Geistes, bey dem Gottesdienst vor den Predigten” (A heartfelt petition of pious Christians for grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, during Divine Service before the sermon). It was in use in Saxony on all Sundays and festivals.
The melody (supra) attached to the hymn in 1651 is found three years earlier in an octavo volume published at Görlitz, entitled Pensum sacrum, Metro-Rhythmicum, CCLXVII Odis...denuo expansum expensumque Opera et Studio Tobiae Hauschkonii (1648), whose Appendix contains eighty melodies, without texts, suitable for the Latin odes in the volume. Among them (No. 45) is the melody printed supra. It occurs among several old hymn tunes, and, no doubt, dates from an older period than the volume in which it first appears. Bach’s text of the melody is invariable and follows the 1648 text except in the Choralgesänge, No. 139, where he follows Witt (No. 240) in a variation of the end of the second phrase of the tune.
Probably it is not an unrelated coincidence that the number of Bach’s Organ movements upon the melody equals the number of stanzas of the hymn. Their differing moods and appropriateness to a particular stanza support the assumption that Bach had the text of the hymn before him and followed it closely. The four movements are discussed in the order of their assumed association with the hymn text:
N. xv. 99. Throughout the Orgelbuchlein, Schweitzer supposes1 , Bach employs a motive derived from the Choral only “when there is a meaning in the repetition of the words.” If that is so, he brings out conspicuously here the words “Herr Jesu Christ” in imitation throughout the movement, an emphasis of the initial invocation which would not appear to be demanded2 .
N. xviii. 50. The movement, one of the miscellaneous Preludes, is quiet and reflective in mood. The undulations of melodic treatment permit the conjecture that Bach had in mind the words of the second stanza:
Eight mss. of the movement are extant, in the Kirnberger and Voss Collections and elsewhere.
N. xvii. 26. The movement is one of the Eighteen Chorals, a Trio upon the melody, jubilant in mood and attuned to the third stanza of the hymn:
Spitta points out1 that Bach follows Pachelbel here in forming a theme out of the opening phrase of the cantus and, after developing it adequately, bringing in the complete melody on the Pedal. A Fugue upon “Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’ ” (N. xviii. 7) shows similar treatment.
Peters’ Edition (P. vi. 107, 108) prints two older readings of the movement, the first of which exists in a ms. in Oley’s hand, and the second is among Johann Ludwig Krebs’ mss. The Berlin Royal Library has a third ms. of the movement (B.G. xxv. (2) 160) of recent and minor authority.
N. xviii. 52. An Organ accompaniment of the tune. Parry suggests2 that the movement, like others of its kind3 , was written for the instruction of “some insufficiently discreet or experienced performer.” It is not extravagant to hold the movement inspired by the fourth stanza of the hymn:
The ms. of the movement is among the Kellner mss. in the Berlin Royal Library.
[* ] The accidental is not found in the 1651 text.
[1 ]Moravian Hymn-book, ed. 1877, No. 733. The original hymn has four stanzas.
[1 ] Vol. ii. 67.
[2 ] See also Sec. 54 supra.
[1 ] Vol. i. 615.
[2 ]Op. cit. 502.
[3 ] See “Allein Gott” (N. xviii. 4), “Gelobet seist du” (N. xviii. 37), “In dulci jubilo” (N. xviii. 61), “Lobt Gott, ihr Christen” (N. xviii. 74), “Herr Gott dich loben wir” (N. xviii. 44), and “Vom Himmel hoch” (N. xix. 19).