Nun komm der Heiden Heiland

Johann Sebastian Bach

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland


About this work

Here is another chorale prelude that comes from the Kirnberger Collection. Musician Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721 -- 1783), friend and admirer of Bach, began assembling the composer's manuscripts after his death in 1750, amassing quite a number in a library that would become known as the Kirnberger Collection. This short piece, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" (Now come, Savior of the World), is really a mini-fugue (or fuguette) and is one of its less-obvious gems. Despite its modest scope and one-and-a-quarter minute length, this work offers quite substantial -- if not immediate -- rewards to the listener. This chorale prelude opens with barren sonorities, a single note sounding for a moment, that is then followed by other lonely, unaccompanied tones that go on to form the chorale theme. Thereafter, textures grow a bit, but the writing remains skeletal throughout. Still, Bach enriches this quiet music with subtle contrapuntal activity and inner voices alive with ideas, while the dark mood exhibits many shades of gray with many rays of hope, the whole producing a work whose expressive manner encompasses a range broader than the ear first realizes.