Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn (from the Orgelbüchlein), BWV 601
by Johann Sebastian Bach [playing time 1:22]  [Download the MP3]

J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
The greatest of them all

"Who's your favorite composer?" is as tired a question as "Whomever I'm listening to at the moment" is an answer. If pressed, however, and with apologies to Ludwig, Wolfgang, Pyotr, and all the other greats, I would give the nod to Bach. His supreme blending of beauty, logic, and inventiveness has never been surpassed, and much of my avocational music-making is devoted to listening, learning, and making synthesized realizations of his music.

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Text - Elisabeth Cruciger, 1524
Tune - 15th century

Lord Christ, the only Son of God, eternal Father,

come from his heart, as it is written.

He is the Morning Star,

His splendor shines forth brighter than any other stars.

In many of the Orgelbüchlein chorales, Bach makes use of prominent rhythmic motives with a beautiful combination of pedagogical and symbolic purpose. Here, a pedal motive appears throughout the chorale:

This propulsive motive (which appears in other Bach works as well) helps give this chorale the sense of joy expressed in the text. Variations on this motive appear in the alto and tenor voices as well. They are widely separated in the mix, voiced with "jangly" continental organs, with organ and trumpet playing the cantus firmus in the soprano.

BWV 600 < Index > BWV 602

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