Front Page Titles (by Subject) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. - 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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Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland.
Luther’s Advent or Christmas hymn, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,” a translation of St Ambrose’s (?) “Veni Redemptor gentium,” was published in 1524, with the melody2 , a simplification of that of the Latin hymn (supra), a reconstruction which may be attributed to Luther or Johann Walther.
Besides the Organ works infra, the melody occurs in Cantatas 36, 61, and 62 (1714-c. 1740). Bach’s text is invariable, with the exception that in the Eighteen Chorals and their variants he writes G sharp for G natural as the fourth note of bar 1 and second note of bar 4 supra. The modification is not found in Witt (No. 4). It produces the interval of a diminished fourth, which is very significant of suffering (cf. the “Crucify” theme in the St Matthew Passion and the first Chorus of Cantata 61 (1714), where the rhythm of majesty is given to the strings while the Saviour’s suffering is, by this means, suggested by the voices).
There are five Organ movements on the melody—one in the Orgelbuchlein, three among the Eighteen Chorals, and one among the miscellaneous Preludes.
N. xv. 3. The movement is the first of the Advent Preludes in the Orgelbüchlein. It breathes a certain wistfulness of petition, a reiterated “Now, come.”
  
N. xvii. 46, 49, 52. The three movements are the ninth, tenth, and eleventh numbers of the Eighteen Chorals. As they exist in a text of Walther’s they must be assigned to the Weimar period. Spitta1 regards them as having been composed by Bach “as a connected whole.” Their tonality is identical. The first is in the Buxtehude form and the phrases of the cantus are unusually prolonged. The second is a Trio, which needs nothing but a freely invented theme to place it in the category of the Choral Fantasia. It therefore forms a bridge between the first and the third, which is a Choral Fantasia. They illustrate the hymn as a whole rather than any particular stanza. Older readings of all are in P. vii. 92, 93, 94, 96 from the Kirnberger, Krebs, and Walther Collections. Of P. vii. 93 the Autograph is in the Berlin Royal Library.
N. xviii. 83. A Fughetta, on the first phrase of the melody, among the miscellaneous Preludes. Copies of the movement are in the Kirnberger and Schelble-Gleichauf mss. in the Berlin Royal Library.
[1 ]Exotics, p. 39. The original hymn has eight stanzas.
[2 ] See it in Bach’s Chorals, Part II. 208.
[1 ] Vol. i. 618.