About this work
This is the first piece in "New Year," the third section of Bach's masterful collection Das Orgelbüchlein. It is preceded by the three works in Advent and the 11 comprising Christmas. Bach fashioned the collection to depict the progression of key events on the Christian calendar in the first part, and various issues of faith in the shorter second part. Most of the works in it are brief by design since Bach intended his chorale preludes to serve as an introduction to the singing of the chorale itself by the congregation or choir during the Lutheran liturgy. This one is especially short, having a duration of only about a minute. Bach presents the chorale theme in a lively, bright guise, with a sprightly running accompaniment whose contrapuntal aspects tend to blend into the sonic fabric rather than offer clearly defined secondary material. The theme on first appearance is heard in the middle ranges, the accompaniment in the upper end. For the second and final statement, the chorale melody and accompaniment reverse their positions. This small-scale gem, while obviously not a major work, offers subtle and quite effective music.