Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend

Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend

BWV 709 performed by Leo van Doeselaar
St. Catherine's Church, Hamburg

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

A solemn quest

In rather archaic fashion, Bach invokes Christ's help in finding the path to truth

This arrangement of the chorale ‘Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu und wend’ is moving in its simplicity. The richly embellished melody in the soprano advances slowly, placing a solemn seal on the piece. The three lower parts make an extremely modest contribution, using snatches of the original chorale melody. 

Bach made several arrangements of this chorale, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the text. Whereas BWV 655, for example, reflects the jubilation of the host of angels in the third verse, it appears that when composing this arrangement Bach had the first verse in mind, which invokes the help of Christ in finding the path to truth.

The sustained opening notes of each phrase may indicate that this is the first arrangement Bach made of this chorale. In any case, the piece dates from his younger years, from the early Weimar period, or maybe even from when he was working in Mühlhausen. Later on, Bach may not have been too pleased with the rather archaic atmosphere that is evoked. It is in any case not due to Bach himself that the piece has survived.

Kirnbergerschen Sammlung, BWV 690-713
Bach cherished a great many of his compositions, ensuring that they were collected or recycled, and – if at all possible – published. But there are also pieces that missed the boat, such as the twenty-four early organ compositions now known as the Kirnbergerschen Sammlung. We owe the survival of these works to Bach’s pupil Johann Kirnberger, who collected twenty-four organ compositions, among other pieces, following the death of his master. The most striking thing about this collection is its lack of cohesion. The only similarity between the works is that they probably all date from the period before 1710.

Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend
organ works
Kirnbergerschen Sammlung (organ)
before 1710
Mühlhausen of Weimar
Special notes
Bach made more arrangements of this chorale later on: BWV 632, 655, 726 and 749.

Extra videos

Organist Leo van Doeselaar

“Leo van Doeselaar explains why this chorale prelude may be called archaic.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    23 October 2015
  • 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
  • Directors of photography
    Sal Kroonenberg, Ruben van den Broeke
  • 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

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!