Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

BWV 61 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Jos van Veldhoven
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Nun komm (Chorus)
  • 2. Der Heiland (Recitative)
  • 3. Komm, Jesu (Aria)
  • 4. Siehe, ich stehe (Recitative)
  • 5. Öffne dich (Aria)
  • 6. Amen (Chorale)

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

The king is coming!

This is a cantata filled with special effects, which is probably due to the young age at which Bach composed the work.

In the daring opening section, he combines the ancient Advent melody Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland with a French royal overture that would have sounded at home in Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles. Such an overture was played as the king entered, which is very fitting for the reading on the first Sunday of Advent, when Jesus enters Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey.

In an unusual bass recitative, Bach uses plucked strings to represent Christ knocking on the doors of the faithful. The soprano answers this call in her aria, opening her heart to Jesus. In the passage ‘Bin ich gleich nur Staub’ Bach indicates a slow tempo – an Adagio. This sort of tempo indication is unusual for Bach.
In the final chorus, Bach uses the melody from another Christmas song, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern to rejoice in welcoming Christ. He ends the cantata with a unique radiant high note in the violin part.

In Bach’s day, both the Advent song Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland and the Christmas song Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern were well-known to all church-goers. So they would not have wondered why these songs appeared in Bach’s cantata for the first Sunday in Advent, but rather how and where they appeared.

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Erdmann Neumeister
first Sunday in Advent
First performance
2 December 1714
Berlin, State Library (DB Mus. Ms. Bach P45, Faszikel 6)

Extra videos

Conductor Jos van Veldhoven

“Conductor Jos van Veldhoven guides us through the dramaturgical structure of this cantata.”

Bass Peter Harvey

“Peter Harvey talks about Bach's most remarkable recitatives.”

Vocal texts


1. Chor
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
des sich wundert alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.

2. Rezitativ (Tenor)
Der Heiland ist gekommen,
hat unser armes Fleisch und Blut
an sich genommen
und nimmet uns
zu Blutsverwandten an.
O allerhöchstes Gut,
was hast du nicht an uns getan?
Was tust du nicht
noch täglich an den Deinen?
Du kömmst und lässt dein Licht
mit vollem Segen scheinen.

3. Arie (Tenor)
Komm, Jesu, komm zu deiner Kirche
und gib ein selig neues Jahr!
Befördre deines Namens Ehre,
erhalte die gesunde Lehre
und segne Kanzel und Altar!

4. Rezitativ (Bass)
Siehe, ich stehe vor der Tür und klopfe an.
So jemand meine Stimme hören wird
und die Tür auftun,
zu dem werde ich eingehen
und das Abendmahl mit ihm halten
und er mit mir.

5. Arie (Sopran)
Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze,
Jesus kömmt und ziehet ein.
Bin ich gleich nur Staub und Erde,
will er mich doch nicht verschmähn,
seine Lust an mir zu sehn,
dass ich seine Wohnung werde.
O wie selig werd ich sein!

6. Choral
Amen, amen!
Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone,
bleib nicht lange!
Deiner wart ich mit Verlangen.


1. Chorus 
Now come, savior of the gentiles,
Known as child of the virgin;
Of this, all the world marvels:
God ordained him such a birth.

2. Recitative 
The savior has come [from eternity];
Has taken on our wretched [temporal] flesh
And blood upon himself;
And takes us on
as blood relatives.
Oh Most-High possession,
What have you not done for us?
What do you not
Still daily do for your own [people]?
You come and let your light
Shine with full blessing.

3. Aria 
Come, Jesus, to your church
And grant a blessed new year.
Promote your name’s honor,
Uphold the sound teaching [of your church],
And bless pulpit and altar.

4. Recitative 
Look, I stand before the door and knock.
If anyone ends up hearing my voice
and opening the door,
I will go in, to him,
and keep the Lord’s Supper with him,
and he with me.

5. Aria 
Open yourself, my whole heart;
Jesus comes and enters [God’s “temple,” my heart].
Even though I am but dust and earth,
He will, nevertheless, not disdain me;
He will look upon his delight in me,
That I may become his dwelling-place.
O how blessed will I be!

6. Chorale 
Amen, amen!
Come, you beautiful crown of joy,
Tarry not long!
[Exceedingly fair bridegroom,] I wait for you with longing.

transl. © Daniel R. Melamed and Michael Marissen
For the annotated version of the text and translation, see here.


  • Release date
    2 May 2014
  • Recording date
    30 November 2013
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Conductor
    Jos van Veldhoven
  • Soprano
    Zsuzsi Tóth
  • Tenor
    Nicholas Mulroy
  • Bass
    Peter Harvey
  • Ripieno soprano
    Lauren Armishaw, Annelies Brants
  • Ripieno alto
    Victoria Cassano McDonald, Elsbeth Gerritsen, Barnabás Hegyi
  • Ripieno tenor
    Robert Buckland, João Moreira
  • Ripieno bass
    Jelle Draijer, Lionel Meunier
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt
  • Violin 2
    Sayuri Yamagata, Paulien Kostense, Lidewij van der Voort
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Esther van der Eijk
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer
  • Double bass
    Maggie Urquhart
  • Oboe
    Frank de Bruine, Peter Frankenberg
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Horn
    Erwin Wieringa
  • Harpsichord
    Siebe Henstra
  • Positive organ
    Pieter-Jan Belder
  • Church organ
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Organ registration
    Paul Meerwijk
  • Concert production
    Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters
  • Producer
    Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Director of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg
  • Camera
    Sal Kroonenberg, Jorrit Garretsen, Robert Berger, Benjamin Sparschuh
  • Film editors
    Lucas van Woerkum & Frank van der Weij
  • Music recording producer
    Leo de Klerk
  • Gaffer
    Alban Riphagen
  • Production assistant
    Zoë de Wilde
  • Score reader
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Make up
    Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch
  • Camera assistant
    Chris Tjong Ayong
  • Music producer's assistant
    Menno van Delft
  • Music recording assistants
    Jaap van Stenis, Jaap Firet, Bobby Verbakel, Luuk Hoogstraten
  • Music edit and mix
    Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij
  • Music edit & mix asssistant
    Martijn Snoeren
  • Colorist
    Ruud de Bruijn
  • Interviews
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Acknowledgements
    Nienke Meuleman

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