About this work
This is another chorale prelude that was a part of the Kirnberger Collection. Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721 -- 1783) began collecting Bach manuscripts after the composer's death and amassed a significant number. This one, "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her" (From Heaven Above to Earth I Come), is a bright, stately piece originally written during the earlier years of Bach's career when his style was still evolving. That observation in no way is meant to demean this work: it is a well-crafted setting of the chorale theme and imaginatively captures the spirit of its text. The theme to this chorale, written by Valentin Schumann and Martin Luther in 1539, is quite the same in its latter half as the one to the famous "Ein feste Burg." Like many Bach chorale preludes, this one begins modestly, single notes stating a chorale theme that grows into larger sonorities as it proceeds and sprouts contrapuntal lines. The pedal enters several times to proclaim the theme in husky roaring tones. Throughout the work, the mood is joyous and triumphant and the ending is glorious, the similarity to the "Ein feste Burg" most noticeable here in the big pedal sonorities. This work typically has a duration of three minutes.