Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier

Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier

BWV 469 performed by Viola Blache,
Mieneke van der Velden en Mike Fentross
Philharmonie, Haarlem

Behind the music


Spiritual gifts

Popular chorale filled with harmony

In this advent hymn or Christmas carol, the first person joins the three kings and the shepherds standing around Jesus’ crib. Instead of gold, incense and myrrh, he or she gives spiritual gifts: mind and thoughts, heart and soul.

The text of this chorale was first published around 1650. In Bach’s day, it was sung to a different melody. That version can be heard, for example, in the middle of the sixth and final cantata of the Christmas Oratorio. The version heard here comes from the hymnal published in 1736 by Georg Christian Schemelli, on which Bach collaborated as an arranger and composer. That book is the first time that the chorale appears with this new melody, which suggests that the melody was newly composed by Bach, although we do not know for certain.

Together, the simple chorale melody and the accompanying bass part form a subtle harmonic and melodic whole, which moves between warm E-flat major and devout C minor. On the word ‘Jesulein’ in the first strophe, for example, the singing voice descends to the lowest notes in the hymn and the harmony turns to minor. Just like the shepherds and the magi, here the hymn also falls devoutly to its knees.

The hymn became widely known over the course of the nineteenth century. The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was persecuted by the Nazis, wrote the following in 1943 from his prison cell, “In these days, I have discovered the hymn Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier. Up to now, it hadn’t meant much to me. You probably have to spend a long time alone in order to absorb it.” Thankfully, that is also possible outside prison, and particularly now that the text and music are available online.

Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier
viola da gamba, lute, soprano
chorales, songs and arias
Schemelli's Musicalisches Gesang-Buch
ca. 1733-36
Paul Gerhardt

Extra videos

Vocal texts


Ich steh' an deiner Krippen hier
o Jesulein, mein Leben;
ich komme, bring' und schenke dir
was du mir hast gegeben.
Nimm hin, es ist mein Geist und Sinn
Herz, Seel' und Mut, nimm alles hin
und laß dir's wohl gefallen.
Ich sehe dich mit Freuden an
und kann mich nicht satt sehen,
und weil ich nun nicht weiter kann,
so tu ich, was geschehen.
O daß mein Sinn ein Abgrund wär
und meine Seel ein weites Meer
daß ich dich möchte fassen.
Wo nehm ich Weisheit und Verstand
mit Lobe zu erheben
die Äuglein, die so unverwandt
nach mir gerichtet stehen;
der volle Mond ist schön und klar,
schön ist der güldnen Sternen Schar,
dies Äuglein sind viel schöner.
Eins aber hoff ich, wirst du mir,
mein Heiland, nicht versagen,
daß ich dich möge für und für
in, bei und an mir tragen,
so laß mich doch dein Kripplein sein,
komm, komm und lege bei mir ein
dich und all deine Freuden.


I stand beside your manger here,
Jesus, life of my living.
I come, and all the gifts I bear
Are things that you have given.
Accept them, Lord: my heart and soul
Mind, spirit, strength——accept it all,
And may it, Lord, be pleasing.
I look at you with utter joy
My eyes and heart are filling
And though I cannot do much more
To gaze on you is thrilling.
Oh, that my mind were canyon-deep
My soul a place wide as the sea
So I could comprehend you.
How can I ever be so wise
To praise with understanding
The gaze of these relentless eyes
That hold me where I’m standing;
The full moon is a gorgeous sight
As are the golden stars so bright
But these eyes still outshine them.
I have just one hope, Savior dear,
Pray you will not deny me,
May I forever hold you here
Within, without, beside me;
Lord, grant that I your manger be
Come, come, and find your home in me,
Bring all your joys within me.

translation © Ruth van Baak Griffioen, 2023


  • Release date
    4 January 2024
  • Recording date
    4 June 2021
  • Location
    Philharmonie, Haarlem
  • Soprano
    Viola Blache
  • Viola da gamba
    Mieneke van der Velden
  • Theorbo
    Mike Fentross
  • Director, camera
    Robin van Erven Dorens
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Onno van der Wal
  • Lights
    Ernst-Jan Thieme
  • Best boy
    Jordi Kooij
  • Data handling
    Stefan Ebels
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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