Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar

Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar

BWV 607 performed by Bart Jacobs
St Bavo's Church, Haarlem

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Fast angels and slow angels

A Christmas hymn in minor lends a cautious sound to the season.

In compiling his Orgelbüchlein, Bach followed the church calendar. Although useful for the organist, you run the risk of monotony – always cheerful at Christmas and always sad in Passion Week. So Bach would occasionally sprinkle a different sound into the ‘Christmas cluster’, for example. This arrangement of Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, for instance, is in minor despite its joyful theme, as if to emphasise the seriousness of the mystery of faith.

The words of the hymn concerned, written by Luther, tell of the annunciation to the shepherds of Jesus in the manger. The hymn assures us that whoever believes in the true God is safe from sin and death. Bach expresses the angels descending from heaven with quick runs in the alto and tenor parts, and slow runs in the bass. Incidentally, Bach’s manuscript (shown in the interview with Bart Jacobs) reveals another surprise: the ever-broadening coloraturas that characterise the work appear to be a later addition. Just look at how all those notes are squeezed into the bar!

Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar
organ works
ca. 1708-1717

Extra videos

Organist Bart Jacobs

“Bach clearly expresses the 'fluttering' of the angels bringing the good news.”

Vocal texs




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