Front Page Titles (by Subject) Herzlich thut mich verlangen. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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Herzlich thut mich verlangen. - 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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Herzlich thut mich verlangen.
Christoph Knoll’s funerary hymn, “Herzlich thut mich verlangen,” was first printed in 1605. Eight years later (1613) it was attached to the tune supra. The melody had been published four years before Knoll’s hymn was written. Its composer, Hans Leo Hassler, set it in 1601 to a secular song, “Mein G’mut ist mir verwirret von einer Jungfrau zart.” It is known, however, through its association with three well-known hymns—Knoll’s “Herzlich thut mich verlangen” (1613), Cyriacus Schneegass’ “Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder” (1620), and Gerhardt’s “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” (1656), to which it was attached at the dates indicated. Bach uses the tune in association with all three hymns, in the Organ movement infra; Cantatas 25, 135, 153, 159, 161 (1715-c. 1740); St Matthew Passion (1729), Nos. 21, 23, 53, 63, 72; Christmas Oratorio (1734), Nos. 5, 64; Choralgesange, Nos. 157, 158.
Bach’s text of the cantus is almost invariable. He regularly substitutes C for G as the penultimate note of the melody. For the fourth note in the fourth phrase (the fifth note in line 2 supra) he very rarely (only in Cantatas 153, 161 (1715-24), St Matthew Passion, No. 72, and N. xviii. 53) follows the text of 1601; elsewhere he substitutes B flat for D. For both innovations there is early sanction; for the first, a text of 1694; for the second, a text of 1679. Witt (No. 253) adopts the first of them, but rejects the second. Bach occasionally introduces poignant variations of the original text in the second phrase of the melody (notes 8-13 supra). In No. 72 of the St Matthew Passion, No. 5 of the Christmas Oratorio, and the Organ movement infra, by a turn of the phrase he conveys an impression of wistfulness which, in the two Oratorios, certainly was suggested by the words. The fact affords a clue to the interpretation of the single Organ movement in which the melody occurs:
N. xviii. 53. The movement’s poetic basis is found in the first stanza of Knoll’s hymn. Bach’s treatment of the melody of the second line of the stanza is inspired by the word “verlangen.” As Sir Hubert Parry points out1 , Bach breaks up the melody into short phrases each one of which becomes a sigh of tender aspiration:
The movement matches those in the Orgelbuchlein as an example of Bach’s poetic and pictorial treatment. Hence Schweitzer’s conjecture that Bach neglected the melody in that work—it is among its unwritten movements (No. 73)—on the ground that it “could only be developed as pure music1 ,” is untenable. Spitta2 holds the movement to have been composed during the Weimar period. Copies of it are among the Krebs and Walther mss.
[1 ]Chorale Book for England, App. IV. The original hymn has eleven stanzas.
[1 ]Op. cit. 503.
[1 ] Vol. i. 287.
[2 ] Vol. i. 654.