Wir Christenleut

Wir Christenleut

BWV 710 performed by Theo Jellema
Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Two worlds

The dejected chorale melody takes the edge off the joy

“Less jolly than the text might lead one to expect”, is how Peter Williams, author of the unsurpassed book The Organ Music of J.S. Bach, described this arrangement of a Christmas carol. And it is only too true. But what is it that bothers him exactly? To start with, the old chorale melody to which the Saxon court preacher Kaspar Füger wrote his joyful words at the end of the sixteenth century is in a minor key. And neither is it a very adventurous melody, as the somewhat dejected tune spans no more than five consecutive notes. In this arrangement, the tune is in the pedal. The happiness is restricted to the two richly ornamented upper parts, although their lively babble does lend them the advantage for a while in the intermittent silences of the pedal. But that is only for a moment each time, and the two worlds do not get any closer to one another. And Bach is not a champion of repetition of moves. After two minutes, he has said what he had to say.

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.

Wir Christenleut
organ works
Kirnbergerschen Sammlung (organ)
before 1710
Mühlhausen or Weimar

Extra videos

Organist Theo Jellema

“This piece is totally happy and festive.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    24 December 2016
  • Recording date
    24 August 2015
  • Location
    Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof
  • Organist
    Theo Jellema
  • Organ
    Christoph Treutmann, 1731
  • Director and editor
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Music recording, edit and mix
    Holger Schlegel
  • Camera
    Maarten van Rossem, Onno van Ameijde
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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