Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf

Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf

BWV 1092 performed by Bart Jacobs
Great or St.-Bavo Church, Haarlem

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

A Baroque lucky dip

Wavering, leaping and rejoicing, Simeon takes his leave of the world

‘Laß fahren, was auf Erden, will lieber selig werden.’ With a long, descending garland of notes at the end of this chorale, Bach illustrates the refrain of the text: the motto 'though life was hard, salvation awaits in heaven' (in major!). The priest Simeon, who is speaking here, stands for all faithful Christians when he realises that the coming of Jesus means a crucial change of course. But before reaching that point, Bach combines all sorts of motifs he had picked up from around him as a young organist – with intriguing results. There are static chords broken by rests, a simple harmonisation of the first chorale phrase and then a repeat of this phrase, now accompanied by broken chords. The runs like intermezzi create a bewildering listening experience. When Bach uses the same melody again years later in the Orgelbüchlein, BWV 617, the effect is much more cohesive – but maybe also less adventurous?

Neumeister Sammlung, BWV 1090-1120
At the end of 1984, the Bach world was turned upside down. In that year, no fewer than 31 undiscovered organ works by Bach turned up in the library of Yale University. They are included in a manuscript compiled by organist Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1756-1840), which ended up in the United States via Christian Heinrich Rinck and Lowell Mason. It is therefore known as the ‘Neumeister collection’. 

Neumeister copied the larger part of his collection in 1790 from a much older manuscript that has been lost. He selected a variety of popular organ chorales that he could play himself for ordinary church services. The majority are works by two of Bach’s cousins, Johann Michael and Johann Christoph, as well as by Bach himself. There are also arrangements by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow and Johann Pachelbel, among others. So in his collection, Neumeister gives an idea of the repertoire that would have been familiar to Bach in his younger years. Bach’s own compositions in the Neumeister collection are very old, dating mostly from before 1708 and probably even from around 1700, when Bach was about fifteen years old. Later, Neumeister added a further five chorales that were much newer, written by his own teacher Georg Andreas Sorge.

This recording was made on the famous Müller organ in the Great or St. Bavo Church, in Haarlem. It is a very special instrument from 1738. Both Georg Friedrich Händel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart travelled to Haarlem to play this organ! Händel was particularly delighted by the unusual Vox Humana register. The organ has over 5000 pipes, divided over 64 registers, with three manuals and a pedal.

Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf
organ works
Neumeister Sammlung (organ)
circa 1700
Ohrdruf? Arnstadt?

Extra videos

Organist Bart Jacobs

“As if Bach was at Heaven's gate, but rushed down again, not being ready for it.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    8 December 2017
  • Recording date
    22 September 2016
  • Location
    Great or St Bavo's Church, Haarlem
  • Organist
    Bart Jacobs
  • Organ
    Christian Müller, 1738
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Jeroen Simons, Bas Wielenga
  • Lights
    Gregoor van de Kamp
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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