About this work
This is one of the 45 chorales of the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book), a collection of works written while Bach served as organist in the Weimar Court of the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar. As the title of this piece suggests, it was, like all compositions in the set, written to satisfy duties regarding church service. But the composer also indicated he had an educational purpose in mind for organ students. Nevertheless, all the works will satisfy the listener on purely musical grounds as well. This Chorale prelude, Christus, der uns selig macht (Christ, Who Makes Us Blessed), is the third of the nine works depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ. Many musicologists and performers have seen symbolism in this work, as well as in much other religious music of Bach. Here, as in the two previous preludes in the set (Nos. 20 and 21), Bach employs canonic writing and the resultant deferential character of one thematic line to the other has been seen as a symbol of the Son serving the will of the Almighty Father. That may be what Bach intended, but there is no substantial evidence to support such an assertion. The mood throughout this Chorale prelude is one of reverential utter seriousness, not least because of the many sustained chords coming from the bass that accompany the grim and muscular thematic material. Lasting slightly over two minutes, this work is not unusually short in this set of relative miniatures.