About this work
Of Bach's three settings of the theme from the Chorale Wir Christenleut (We Christian people), the BWV 1090 -- from the recently discovered (1985) Neumeister Collection -- is the earliest (1700 -- 1708). The BWV 710 rendition most likely comes next, dating to his Weimar years (1708 -- 1717). This BWV 612 version is probably the best known of the lot. It is the closing work in the Christmas section of Bach's masterful collection Das Orgelbüchlein (The Little Organ Book). It is a lively piece whose ebullient manner is underscored by Bach's triple rhythm, a characteristic found in much of his cheerful and high-spirited keyboard music. Here, as is often the case, the rhythm gives the piece an almost waltz-like gait. That said, there is nothing in the work that might suggest dance or festive merriment, except of a religious bent. The piece presents the chorale theme in a vigorous manner, rhythms propelling it along but not hurrying the tempo. The melody repeats throughout, but in varied guises, and Bach's contrapuntal writing enlivens and brilliantly colors the character of the music. This is a short piece -- lasting about a minute-and-a-half -- but still a quite rewarding one for the listener.