About this work
This work is not to be confused with the bevy of Bach works having the same title, including the chorale preludes BWV 663, 664, 711, and 715; the Fuga super, BWV 716; or three Chorale preludes from the German Organ Mass, BWV 675, 676, and 677. This particular version, BWV 717, finds the composer once again providing a brief, prelude-like work meant to serve as an introduction to the congregation's singing of the chorale during the church service. "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" is a popular chorale, which when sung in English has the title The Lord, he is my shepherd true. Bach fashions a soothing, flowing accompaniment in this chorale prelude that is rich in contrapuntal activity, while the chorale theme itself has a subdued, muted quality. Most of the time, the music seems to be building and pulsating, contracting and reviving, and moving in several directions at once. In the end, the mood here mixes serenity with a sense of expectation, ecstasy with joy. The rather abrupt ending seems almost abortive to what might have worked into some climactic moment of epiphany or ecstasy. This piece typically has a duration of just over two minutes.