About this work
This melody, "Who only lets dear God do as He pleases," appears in about a dozen Bach works, most of them cantatas, and it's usually associated with consolation or meditation. Here, it's one of the final items in the early Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book). In the brooding minor mode, the plainchant melody sings out simply and slowly over two lower, nagging, and worried voices in sixteenth- and thirty-second-note figures, with only slightly more measured support from the pedal notes. The music keeps modulating to the major, but only briefly before collapsing back into the dour minor. The busy lower voices provide unfailing forward motion and emotional ambiguity for a melody that might otherwise seem static and stern.