Front Page Titles (by Subject) Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier. - 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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Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier.
Tobias Clausnitzer’s hymn, “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier,” for use before the sermon, was first published, but without a melody, in the Altdorf Bet-und Gesang Büchlein (1663).
Clausnitzer was born at Thum, in Saxony, in 1618. He graduated at Jena University in 1643 and became an army chaplain in Swedish service during the Thirty Years’ War. Upon the conclusion of peace in 1648 he was appointed pastor at Weiden, where he died in 1684.
The melody (supra) of the hymn was composed by Johann Rodolph Ahle, and was published first in his Neue Geistliche Auf die Sontage...gerichtete Andachten (Mühlhausen, 1664). It is set there to Franz Joachim Burmeister’s hymn, “Ja, er ists, das Heil der Welt.” A reconstruction of the melody (supra) was attached to Clausnitzer’s hymn in the Darmstadt Cantional of 1687.
Besides a four-part setting of the melody in the Choralgesänge, No. 228, there are five short treatments of it among the Organ works. Bach’s text is invariable only for the first phrase of the melody, which exactly follows the 1687 reconstruction, excepting the last note, where he substitutes C for A (supra). For the remaining phrases, though his text generally conforms to the 1687 reconstruction, Bach introduces into all of them variants which, generally, have their authority in Leipzig use. The five melodic texts are discussed in the sections infra. A peculiar intimacy distinguishes Bach’s treatment of them all.
P. v. 109 and N. xv. 101. The melody appears twice, among the Trinity hymns, in the Orgelbuchlein. It is the only tune introduced more than once into that work, and the significance of the fact has been pointed out in the Introduction to this volume. Making allowance for the free embellishments Bach introduces, the cantus exactly follows the reconstruction of 1687, excepting the last note of the first phrase of the tune, which is C natural intead of A. This improvement is found in Witt (No. 241), whose text Bach exactly follows. The two Orgelbüchlein movements differ in the smallest details, and the Novello Edition only prints the second of them; Bach distinguished it as “distinctius.” The first movement, “in Canone alla Quinta,” is printed in the other Editions.
N. xviii. 70. The melodic text of the movement conforms to the 1687 reconstruction, except in the third phrase, which is first found in Vetter’s Hymn-book (1709). The melodic text of the Choralgesänge setting is identical with that of this movement, allowance being made for the free figures that embellish the latter. Both are in the key of G major. Peters printed the movement from Kittel’s ms. The Dröbs ms. provides another copy.
N. xviii. 71. The melodic text of the movement conforms to the 1687 reconstruction, excepting the third phrase, whose source is not ascertained; probably it is Bach’s own. The authorities for the movement are as in No. 91 supra.
N. xviii. 72. This is a simple four-part setting in two verses. The first half of its melodic text exactly conforms to the 1687 reconstruction. The second half of it follows Vetter. Six mss. of the setting are extant, one of them being in the Kirnberger and another in the Krebs Collections.
Since Bach uses the 1687 or Witt form of the melody only in the Orgelbüchlein, while all the other settings show variants which are traceable to Vetter’s Hymn-book, which was published at Leipzig a few years before Bach went there, it is a reasonable deduction that Nos. 91, 92, 93 and the Choralgesange setting date from the Leipzig period.
[1 ]Chorale Book for England, No. 12. The original hymn has three stanzas.