Von Gott will ich nicht lassen

Von Gott will ich nicht lassen

BWV 658 performed by Reitze Smits
Jacobi Church, Uithuizen

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

The church bells of Leipzig

A chorale arrangement that is bursting with joy

The chorale melody Von Gott will ich nicht lassen - which forms the basis for this organ work, BWV 658 - was originally intended as a love song. From the mid-sixteenth century, it was used in the Lutheran church, and as a chorale its subject was the caring power of God. The words convey faith in God’s salvation after death: “after death we will be buried deep in the earth; when we have slept, we will be awoken by God".

Bach first arranged the chorale in his younger years, when he was the court organist in Weimar. He did not use the complete melody, but took just a few bars as the cantus firmus (an existing melody that a composer reused for a polyphonic piece) and developed them in the rest of the piece. This melody begins in the pedal, but gradually permeates the whole work. In the accompaniment, we regularly hear the ‘joy motif’: a lively run of ascending sixths. This is typical of Bach, especially in combination with the chosen harmonies, and makes this chorale a particularly fine example of Bach’s organ style.

18 Choräle/Leipziger Choräle, BWV 651-668
In the last ten years of his life, Bach gathered together and completed a series of 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. Incidentally, 18 Choräle is a misleading title, as the set originally comprised 17 pieces. The eighteenth, Vor deinen Thron tret ich (BWV 668), was added to Bach’s manuscript later on.

Von Gott will ich nich lassen
organ works
18 Choräle (organ)
Special notes
There is also an earlier, more austere version of this composition from the Weimar period: BWV 658a.

Extra videos

Organists on the Schnitger organ

“Schnitger is the Stradivarius of organ building.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    8 December 2022
  • Recording date
    18 July 2019
  • Location
    Jacobi Church, Uithuizen
  • Organist
    Reitze Smits
  • Organ
    Arp Schnitger 1701, restoration 2001
  • Director and camera
    Robin van Erven Dorens
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera, lights
    Onno van der Wal, Gregoor van de Kamp
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Data handling
    Stefan Ebels
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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