About this work
This is the 19th chorale prelude of the 45 that make up Bach's
Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book), a collection whose first 33 works are associated with Lutheran feast days and whose final 12 were placed under the umbrella of "Glaubenslieder" (Songs of Faith). Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf (Lord God, Heaven's Gate Unlock) is the second of two pieces comprising the section, Song of Simeon, which precedes the Passion. It is tied to its sibling, Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin (No. 18), in that each depicts the Biblical story about Simeon (Luke 2; 29), who observed Jesus when he was presented in the Temple as a boy. Simeon departed the Temple with great peace of mind. This chorale prelude uses the same chorale theme as heard in No. 18. Here, it is a stately creation that serenely sings in sustained chords in the soprano range, while the left hand and pedal combine to provide mesmerizing contrapuntal activity that underscores the mood of peace. Once more, Bach achieves much subtle complexity via such seemingly simple means here. This work lasts about two and a half minutes in a typical performance.