Wir glauben all an einen Gott, Vater
BWV 740 performed by Theo Jellema
Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof
Behind the music
Bordering on sluggish
Whoever the composer is, this piece fits the words well.
There are quite a few of Bach’s works for which there is no surviving score written by the composer himself. In that case, circumstantial evidence is used to determine whether he really was the composer. Opinions are divided over this piece.
The fact is that there are four related versions of this organ work, but all of them appear only in copies from the nineteenth century. In any case, three of them are attributed to Bach’s pupil, Johann Ludwig Krebs. The Bachgesellschaft has deemed the fourth version (a five-part piece with two pedal parts and the melody in the upper part) a work by Bach, publishing it as BWV 740. The other three are considered to be derived from it during Krebs’ time as a pupil, between 1726 and 1735.
It is interesting that a Wir glauben all an einen Gott is mentioned in the Orgelbüchlein, which originated in the years 1713-1716, although unfortunately the music is missing. It is unclear whether Bach wanted to add a possible arrangement of the chorale by Clausnitzer, entitled Wir glauben all an einen Gott, Vater’, or one of Luther’s ‘Wir glauben all an einen Gott’ (i.e. without ‘Vater’). Luther’s text is longer than that of Clausnitzer, and the melody is different as well. Bach used Luther’s chorale in the third movement of his Clavier-Übung from 1739 (BWV 680).
If we compare that organ arrangement with BWV 740, we see a world of difference. This is logical, as the words of these two German creeds differ as well. BWV 680 rejoices and exults about the caring and protective God of Luther’s text, whereas Clausnitzer’s words are considerably more sparing in their characterisation. Here, God’s revered virtues are those of a ruler who ordains at will.
The music of BWV 740 fits this perfectly. Solemn and bordering on sluggish, the whole arrangement takes place in the same mood; obediently plodding along in four-four time. The professional literature is critical of the inconsistencies in the pedal parts and the weak harmonies. So could this really be a work by Bach? If so, then he clearly found little inspiration in giving voice to this distant God.
- Wir glauben all an einen Gott, Vater
- organ works
- ca. 1708-1717
- Special notes
- The arrangement is one of the group of a few dozen scattered organ chorales by Bach that cannot be traced back to a creation date or occasion. This chorale arrangement has also survived as a composition by Johann Ludwig Krebs.
- Release date
- 26 February 2016
- Recording date
- 26 August 2015
- Stiftskirche St. Georg, Goslar-Grauhof
- Theo Jellema
- Christoph Treutmann, 1731
- Film director and editor
- Onno van Ameijde
- Maarten van Rossem, Onno van Ameijde
- Music production, editing and mix
- Holger Schlegel
- Jessie Verbrugh
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