About this work
Bach wrote at least three other settings of the chorale theme in "Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten" (If Only You Let God Guide You): BWV 647 is one of the six "Schübler Chorales", BWV 642 is in the Glaubenslieder section of the Orgelbüchlein, and BWV 691 is -- like its sibling here -- one of the works in the Kirnberger Collection. There is also a doubtful work based on this chorale theme, BWV Anh. 68. This BWV 690 version, while close in work list numbering to 691, is rather different in character and probably the preferred rendition of the two. It is livelier and more colorful than its subdued and subtle sibling. While the chorale theme in each is similarly paced, the accompaniment here is quite animated and its contrapuntal character seems to flow almost jauntily along, usually descending or ascending. The stately theme is presented three times, the last higher in the register, taking on a more ethereal and lighter character. Most versions of this work have a duration under two minutes, but because of its wider expressive range -- a range that allows many interpretive approaches -- some organists have extended its length to well over three minutes.