Vater unser im Himmelreich

Vater unser im Himmelreich

BWV 683 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
Walloon Church, Amsterdam

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

An odd couple

A complex, resounding 'Our Father' is followed by a dreamy prayer

After the ‘canonic stranglehold’ of BWV 682 (Bach’s great chorale arrangement of the Vater unser im Himmelreich with pedal), this little work using the same melody is like a fresh breeze. Without any frills or interruptions, the song is heard in the upper part, accompanied by ascending and descending motifs and sustained notes, which thus form a clear chord scheme. All in all, it is a very ‘classical’ approach that resembles that of the much older Orgelbüchlein. This seems in keeping with the idea that this arrangement dates from as early as the Weimar period and that Bach went back to it in 1739 when collecting chorale arrangements for the third part of his Clavier-Übung.
The runs may originate in the melody to ‘und willst das beten von uns hab’n’ (you wish us to pray), and indeed the music exudes an atmosphere of attention and reflection in all its straightforward simplicity.

In Leipzig, between 1731 and 1741, Bach published four parts of Clavier-Übung, a title used previously by Johann Kuhnau, his predecessor as cantor at the Thomasschule, for similar collections of works for organ and harpsichord. The compositions are very varied in nature and, although the title suggests otherwise, were difficult to play. Bach addresses all the styles, genres and techniques for harpsichord and organ that were prevalent at the time, but then in the superior form to which only he had the patent.

Clavier-Übung I (1731) contains the six partitas, BWV 825-830; Clavier-Übung II (1735) the Concerto nach italienischen Gusto, BWV 971 and the Ouverture nach französischer Art, BWV 831; and Clavier-Übung IV (1741) the Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. The largest part, Clavier-Übung III (1739), is the only one devoted to organ, containing mostly chorale arrangements, or organ preludes based on Lutheran hymns. Bach made two versions of each chorale: one for great organ and one for a smaller type of organ. Most of the chorales refer to the six parts of the catechism. It is unclear whether Bach also played them during the services, or whether he developed his musical ideas in them for his own use, with no intention of performing them in public.

Vater unser im Himmelreich
organ works
Clavier-Übung III
published in 1739
Special notes
The arrangement based on this chorale, BWV 683a, is not by Bach himself, as the quality of the piece is not high enough.

Extra videos

Organist Leo van Doeselaar

“Leo van Doeselaar about the organ register that imitates the human voice, like a sort of synthesizer.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    17 April 2015
  • Recording date
    23 June 2014
  • Location
    Walloon Church, Amsterdam
  • Organist
    Leo van Doeselaar
  • Organ
    Christian Müller, 1734
  • Producer
    Frank van der Weij
  • Film director
    Jan Van den Bossche
  • Directors of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg, Ruben van den Broeke
  • Grip
    Antoine Petiet
  • Music production, editing and mix
    Holger Schlegel
  • Film editor
    Dylan Glyn Jones
  • Colorist
    Jef Grosfeld
  • Production assistants
    Marco Meijdam, Zoë de Wilde

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