Vater unser im Himmelreich

Vater unser im Himmelreich

BWV 737 performed by Bart Jacobs
St. Bavo's Church, Haarlem

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Subdued and timeless

The stop used by Bart Jacobs emphasises the vocal character

Vater unser im Himmelreich is Luther’s interpretation of Our Father: the only prayer that came directly from Jesus himself and which has thus always had a special place in Christianity. In Bach’s day, besides being used as a hymn during Communion, Vater unser im Himmelreich was also linked to Rogation Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter, which is therefore also the Sunday before Ascension Day, when there were traditional processions through the fields.

Of the various organ arrangements Bach made of this chorale, this is the most subdued and timeless. The piece is written in stile antico – the ‘ancient’, vocal, polyphonic composition style of the sixteenth century.

Here, Bart Jacobs emphasises this archaic character with the cornet stop. Its name and timbre refer to the cornetto, a sixteenth-century wind instrument. The stop makes the organ sound like a brass ensemble from the Renaissance.

And that suits this piece really well, as Bach may have used the ‘ancient style’ here to emphasise the fact that Vater unser im Himmelreich is a prayer. And a prayer implies words and thoughts, either spoken or sung. In fact, this arrangement is a four-part motet in the ancient style and you could easily perform the whole piece in song. Occasionally, there is a slightly more daring harmony, which is all that betrays the fact that this piece is not really a motet from Luther’s day.

This recording was made on the famous Müller organ in the Great or St. Bavo Church, in Haarlem. It is a very special instrument from 1738. Both Georg Friedrich Händel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart travelled to Haarlem to play this organ! Händel was particularly delighted by the unusual Vox Humana register. The organ has over 5000 pipes, divided over 64 registers, with three manuals and a pedal.

Vater unser im Himmelreich
organ works

Extra videos

Organist Bart Jacobs

“It's sheer enjoyment: that old style of the 16th century restrained and pious. That's the beauty of this chorale arrangement.”

Vocal texts




  • Publication date
    24 March 2017
  • Recording date
    22 September 2016
  • Location
    St Bavo's Church, Haarlem
  • Organist
    Bart Jacobs
  • Organ
    Christian Müller, 1738
  • Director
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Bas Wielenga, Jeroen Simons
  • Lights
    Gregoor van de Kamp
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh

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