Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder

Johann Sebastian Bach

Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder

BWV742 • “Herzlich tut mich verlangen”

About this work

Assigned to the Bach catalog in the nineteenth century but later thought not to be Bach's work, this little chorale prelude gained a bit more legitimacy in 1985 when it turned up in the Neumeister Manuscript at Yale University in the company of other chorales (some previously unknown) fairly solidly attributed to Bach. The melody is not one that Bach seems to have set otherwise. Its first statement sounds distracted, almost fragmentary, wandering and hesitating and suggesting the minor mode; if it were louder, thicker, and more difficult, this would serve nicely as the basis of a toccata. But then Bach smooths out and regularizes the theme, although he does at one point fixate on a repeated little twist in the melody. All this proceeds over a solemn bass line, creating a proper atmosphere for meditation.