About this work
Bach wrote a number of works based on the chorale "Wie schön leuchtet uns der Morgenstern" (How Beautifully the Morning Star Shines), including his Cantata BWV 1, as well as several other chorale preludes. This one, BWV 739, is among the earlier efforts, though it shows Bach already a master at adapting the melody to the organ. As many know, his chorale preludes were composed to serve as a means to prime the congregation during church services for the singing of the chorale itself. Here, Bach deftly captures the character of the chorale's text, with music that is ethereal, celestial, and brimming with sunlight. While some have considered this work of doubtful origin in the past, it appears to be an authentic Bach effort. It features a cantus firmus, but hardly of a stationary nature. The theme is given a mostly light treatment throughout, the mood lively and joyous. Bach's contrapuntal writing consistently shows his usual skill, and in the end, the blending of sonorities produces a colorfully woven musical fabric of great appeal. This chorale prelude is a relatively long one, having a general duration of just over four minutes.