Front Page Titles (by Subject) Vater unser im Himmelreich. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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Vater unser im Himmelreich. - 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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Vater unser im Himmelreich.
Luther’s versification of the Lord’s Prayer, “Vater unser im Himmelreich,” was first published, with an anonymous melody (supra), in 1539. Fr. Zelle1 supposes the tune in origin a “Bergmannslied.” Bach uses it in Cantatas 90, 101, 102 (1731-c. 1740), Choralgesange, No. 316, St John Passion (1723), No. 5, and four Organ movements infra. Excepting a single detail, his melodic text is invariable and conforms to the original: in the three Cantatas, the Orgelbüchlein, and N. xvi. 61 he substitutes B for G sharp as the thirteenth note of the second line supra. Witt (No. 232) has G sharp there.
N. xv. 105. The movement is in the Catechism section of the second part of the Orgelbuchlein. It stands for “Prayer,” and Bach illuminates it by enforcing the intimate and rapt spirit in which prayer should be offered. The rhythm he employs on the Pedal to express blissful adoration has already been remarked in the Preludes “Alle Menschen müssen sterben,” “Jesu, meine Freude,” and others.
N. xvi. 53, 61. These two Clavierübung movements, a long one and a short one, illustrate the ordinance of Prayer. Of the first and longer one Bach’s programme is not patent. Schweitzer1 finds the word “Father” prominent in it; it does not seem to be more so than any other. Spitta, remarking2 that the melody appears against three parts in counterpoint in canon on the octave, speculates that Bach thereby intended to symbolize the childlike obedience with which the Christian appropriates the prayer prescribed by Christ Himself. The device would appear unduly complicated for the conveyance of that impression. It is, on the whole, safer to draw attention to the fact that the simple, unadorned cantus (in canon on the octave) is a thread in a larger fabric woven by (1) an exceptionally embellished presentment of the cantus (in canon on the fifth), and (2) a Pedal part markedly contrasted in character. Conjecturally, the plain cantus is the Prayer of Prayers, Christ’s own utterance. The embellished, ruminative version of the cantus expresses the intimate spirit of prayer; and the firm, reliant Pedal part typifies the faith without which prayer is vain.
In the shorter movement the cantus is unadorned and, alone among the Clavierubung Choral movements, is presented without interludes. P. v. 109 prints a variant reading from a Hauser ms.
N. xix. 12. The movement, a solemn prayer, is an early work of the Weimar period, similar in form to “Gottes Sohn ist kommen” (No. 53 supra). The ms. of it is in the Walther Collection of Choral Preludes.
In addition to the above movement, B.G. xl. 183, 184 prints two of doubtful authenticity. Both are among the Kirnberger mss. and are attributed to Georg Bohm, of Lüneburg, Bach’s contemporary there, who died circa 1734.
[1 ]Exotics, p. 91. The original hymn has nine stanzas.
[1 ]Die Singerweisen der altesten evangelischen Zeit, p. 54.
[1 ] Vol. ii. 68.
[2 ] Vol. iii. 216.