Fantasia super: Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott

Fantasia super: Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott

BWV 651 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg

Behind the music

Story
Story
Extra videos
Extra videos
Credits
Credits

Speaking in tongues

In all the commotion, the bass is a beacon of tranquillity.

The overwhelming opening of this grand chorale fantasia refers almost literally to the opening lines of Acts 2 from the Bible, which say about Pentecost: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”.
The underlying melody, which Bach used for various Pentecost cantatas, is heard in the pedal, but only after the drone of a sustained note (a ‘pedal point’) has resounded in our ears. Watch also the interview where Leo van Doeselaar explains this.
Then – with short interruptions – we are presented with the whole chorale melody, which remains a beacon of tranquillity in the midst of the notes tumbling over one another in the upper parts. As in the much shorter original version of this chorale, which most probably originated in Weimar, Bach imaginatively draws on many different compositions. He does so, for instance, in his fervent illustration of the commotion of ‘speaking in tongues’, to which the words of the chorale also refer. Finally, all the turbulence ends in a short but powerful hallelujah.

18 Choräle/Leipziger Choräle, BWV 651-668
In the last ten years of his life, Bach gathered together and completed a series of eighteen chorale arrangements, presumably planning to have them published, just like the third part of the Clavier-Übung in 1739. It concerns a selection of his compositions from much earlier years, when he was working as an organist in Weimar, Arnstadt and Mühlhausen. The collection became known as the 18 Choräle or Leipziger Choräle.

BWV
651
Title
Fantasia super: Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott
Instrument
Organ
Genre
organ works
Serie
18 Choräle (organ)
Year
1708-1717/1739-1742
City
Weimar/Leipzig
Special notes
Part of a manuscript of 18 chorale arrangements, BWV 651-668, which Bach collected in the 1740s, and of which the earliest versions sometimes originated in his Weimar period.

Extra videos

Organist Leo van Doeselaar

“The only constant in Bach's oeuvre is that he always tries to trip you up. ”

Vocal texs

Original

Translation

Credits

  • Release date
    19 February 2016
  • Recording date
    21 October 2014
  • Location
    St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg
  • Organist
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Organ
    Various builders between the 15th and 19th century. Reconstruction: Flentrop 2013.
  • Producer
    Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Director of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg
  • Camera assistants
    Andreas Grotevent, Lucas Lütz
  • Music production, editing and mix
    Holger Schlegel
  • Film editor
    Jasper Verkaart
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Acknowledgements
    Vadim Dukart, Andreas Fischer
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