Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein

BWV 641 performed by Daniel Seeger
Freiberger Dom Sankt Marien, Freiberg, Germany

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Balanced and inventive

Bach soothes us

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein, BWV 641, comes from the Orgelbüchlein, a collection of chorale preludes compiled by Bach between 1712 and 1717. A chorale prelude – a short introduction by the organist – ensured that the congregation knew which hymn they had to sing.

At the time BWV 641 was created, Bach was working in Weimar, as an organist and chamber musician at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst. In the preceding years, Bach had gained plenty of improvisation experience in the position of organist. In his first chorale preludes, he was still searching for his own style, and his urge to experiment was rather too obvious, but here we hear the Bach we all admire so much. Balanced and infinitely inventive, with an ear for both tradition and the latest fashion, and always focused on the character of the text. It was the first time that Bach had compiled such a systematic collection of chorale arrangements. Apparently, he was aware of the standard he had reached in them.

The soothing music accompanies the chorale Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein. If we find ourselves in dire straits, we know that in any case we can call on the Lord together. Originally, it was a Calvinist hymn (Lève le coeur), with a melody by the renowned hymn writer Louis Bourgeois. The Lutherans seem to have liked this melody, as it is also used for the chorale Vor deinem Thron tret' ich hiermit. Bach wrote the chorale prelude of this name at the end of his life – and the story goes that he dictated it from his deathbed.


Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein
organ works

With support from

Extra videos

Organist Leo van Doeselaar

““This organ in the Freiberger Dom is seen as Gottfried Silbermann's masterpiece. It was the first organ which he built entirely by himself, and it was to become famous.””

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    30 March 2023
  • Recording date
    16 September 2020
  • Location
    Freiberger Dom Sankt Marien, Freiberg, Germany
  • Organist
    Daniel Seeger
  • Organ
    Gottfried Silbermann, 1711-1714
  • Director and editor
    Robin van Erven Dorens
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Robin van Erven Dorens, Onno van der Wal
  • Lights
    Ernst-Jan Thieme
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from

Help us to complete All of Bach

There are still many recordings to be made before the whole of Bach’s oeuvre is online. And we can’t complete the task without the financial support of our patrons. Please help us to complete the musical heritage of Bach, by supporting us with a donation!