No.17 Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam

Johann Sebastian Bach

No.17 Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam


About this work

Bach's Deutsche Orgelmesse (German Mass for Organ) is divided into three parts: an opening Prelude and Fugue, 21 chorale preludes that represent eight sections of the Lutheran mass, and a closing Fugue. The Chorale prelude "Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam" (Christ Our Lord to Jordan Came) represents the mass' section Baptism and exists in two versions, the grande (BWV 684) and this petite rendition. All the parts of the mass have two such versions, except the Gloria, which has three -- one grande and two petites. Also, there are two versions each for the first Kyrie, the Christe, and the second Kyrie. This BWV 685 chorale prelude does indeed come across as the little brother or sister of its bigger and grander sibling. The latter is more muscular, has a wider expressive range, and makes greater demands on the soloist. That said, this less-driven, rather serene rendition of the music offers Bach's usual contrapuntal subtlety and imaginative sense for thematic development. Here, the chorale theme is presented in the tenor ranges while the right hand's music imparts an angelic mood in the soprano. Soon, however, it takes up the theme and the left hand plays demurely, with deftly imagined counterpoint. This little piece lasts about a minute-and-a-half.