About this work
This piece is one of 21 chorale preludes -- or, as they are also called, Catechism Preludes -- that form the nucleus of Bach's Deutsche Orgelmesse (German Mass for Organ). Framing the preludes are a large Prelude and Fugue in E flat major and a closing fugue, also in E flat. The fughetta here is one of three works entitled "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" (All Glory Be to God on High), which serve as the Gloria. It is the shortest of the trio and carries the tag, like the first work in the group, petite version. The middle chorale prelude is called the grande version. Except for the Gloria here, each section of this organ mass contains one grande version and a corresponding petite one. Some believe this big and small approach corresponds to the Lutheran catechism, which exists in versions for adults and children. But that view should in no way suggest that the petite renditions are simpler or designed for children. This fughetta is less than half the length of the other two "Allein Gotts," but is rife with brilliantly conceived contrapuntal detail, a hardly surprising feature from this master of counterpoint. The music is joyous and perhaps a bit lighter in mood than its siblings, and features use of the same glorious chorale theme. It is also more compact and structurally less complex.