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Luther's Deutsche Mass

Luther’s Deutsche Messe, Other Liturgical Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (July 21, 2017):
From its inception in 1526, Martin Luther’s Deutsche Messe (German Mass) observes several key principals. Retaining the Catholic order and meaning of the main worship service but soon substituting vernacular German for Latin, Luther used music throughout, particularly in the five sung prayers of the Mass Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei), with chorales set to interpretive stanzas, in two observances, the ministry of the word with biblical readings in the sermon, and in the ministry of communion. In these Luther infused his theology of the grace, faith, and word alone empowering the congregation’s active participation. Two hundred years later, Bach created a well-regulated church music grounded in Lutheran practice with an active Christ-centered Christology of settings for voices and instruments, particularly the organ and elaborate, extended concerted settings.

Luther’s Deutsche Messe with its intonation of the Mass Ordinary, is based on his Latin mass Formula missae (1523 ) of the Service of the Word: Introit Spiritual Song or Psalm, Kyrie eleison, (Gloria,) Collect, Epistle, German Hymn, Gospel, Creed, Sermon (on the Gospel), and Lord's Prayer paraphrase; and Service of Communion, Consecration of Bread, Elevation of the Body of Christ and the Sanctus , Consecration of Wine, Distribution of the Body of Christ, (Sanctus paraphrase or Hymn "Gott sei Gelobet," or "Jesus Christus unser Heiland”), Verbna Testamenti (Sanctus or Agnus Dei), Thanksgiving Collect, and Aaronic Benediction. First sung during Advent 1725 when the traditional Gloria was withheld, Luther’s German Mass was added after the Kyrie the German Gloria in Nikolaus Decius hymnic version of the Greater Doxology, “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr’.” Neither the text of Luther’s German Creed nor his German Agnus Dei was included in the Deutsche Messe but his German Sanctus was, says Robin A. Leaver.1 Luther’s German Sanctus with his Isaiah 6:1-4 versification and his German Agnus Dei were sung during communion since their texts are not vernacular settings of the Latin “Holy,” chanted at the elevation of the host, and the Latin Agnus Dei chanted at the end of communion.

Vernacular chorale settings of the other Mass Ordinary followed: “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit” (Kyrie, God Father in heaven above; texts,,; Bach settings,; Creed, Luther’s “Wir glauben all an einem Gott” (We all believe in one true God; texts,,; Bach’s settings,; Luther’s German Sanctus, “Jesaja, dem Propheten, das geschah” (Isaiah, the prophet who says); texts,,; music (XXV),; the Decius’ German Agnus Dei, “O Lamb Gottes unschuldig” (Lamb of God Spotless,,_unschuldig,, or “Christe, du Lamb Gottes” (O Christ, Thou Lamb of God;,_du_Lamm_Gottes, Bach’s setting, text

Luther’s Deutsche Messe, “essentially a musical service of worship, a combination of chant and hymnody,” “was and continues to be misunderstood,” says Leaver (Ibid.: Chapter 18, “The Deutsche Messe from Luther to Bach”: 292 f). As “an expression of Gospel worship by which no one was to be bound,” it is not the definitive, rigid Lutheran liturgy for the main service. Local practice was established in the Saxon Church Agenda of 1539 and the Church Book of 1712, with local variants and practices in Bach’s Leipzig. The vernacular form of the Deutsche Messe did not exclude or ban the Latin Formula missae, so that larger cities such as Leipzig continued to include both Latin and German texts, and Bach composed settings in both languages. The musical elements in the Deutsche Messe are “fundamentally integral to its liturgical forms" and not to be diminished or abandoned as happened when other Protestant denominations sought to exclude Roman Catholic practices. “For Lutheran worship should bow a musical experience, a combination of chant and hymnody, chorale and instrumental,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 294), citing Luther’s Luther’s view that “music is a beautiful and magnificent gift of God and next to theology,” which Bach exploited to the fullest and with biblical authority.

Although Bach did not compose a thorough, systematic setting of the Deutsche Messe, as he had with the Latin Mass Ordinary in his B Minor Mass, he left chorale four-part settings and organ preludes for all the five sections, as first pointed out by Jaroslav Pelikan.2 The vocal settings are: “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,” BWV 371; “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr’,” BWV 260; “Wir glauben all an einem Gott,” BWV 437; Sanctus, “Heilig, Heilig” (Holy, Holy), BWV 325; and Agnus Dei, “O Lamb Gottes unschuldig,” BWV 401, or “Christe, du Lamb Gottes,” BWV 23/4. Bach composed settings of four of these in the Clavierübung (CU) III, and used the modern Sanctus in place of the CU chorale, Luther’s “Jesaja, dem Propheten, das geschah,” In addition is, Luther’s Grant us Peace setting, “Verlieh uns Frieden,” which Bach harmonized in BWV 126/7 and 42/6 ( Variant settings of these hymns are described below, as well as appropriate alternative liturgical settings.

Mass Text Sources: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo 3

The five-part Ordinary of the Mass contains the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. The Mass is based on biblical readings and the Nicene Creed (for the Credo) that have different liturgical roots. They are derived from non-Psalm sources, but with certain Psalm influences. Like the Kyrie, the Gloria has origins in the Greek Eastern Orthodox (Catholic) Church. Elements of each of the five parts of the Mass appeared independently in the first four centuries of Christianity as the Mass or primary rite of the Roman Catholic Church developed in two parts: The Mass of the Word and the Mass of the Eucharist (or Communion). The full Roman Catholic Mass Ordinary as it exists today was finally established in the 12th century. Except for the Sanctus, the other four parts make explicit reference to the plea for mercy.

The "Kyrie eleison" (Lord have mercy) is a solemn supplication in Greek. It comes from a litany or repetitive, responsive phrase. The litany can be traced back at least as far as Psalm 136, a Hymn of Thanksgiving. Here the psalmist gives thanks for God's saving and providential care, and then concludes each verse with the refrain, "For God's mercy (steadfast love) endures forever." The origin and usage of the "Kyrie" in the Roman Mass, like tother four sections of the fixed Mass Ordinary, as well as the origins of the Mass Proper changing lectionary readings for each service in then seasons, are obscured by varying practices and usages. The “Kyrie” was introduced into the Roman rite about 492-496 CE.

The earliest appearance of the “Kyrie eleison” in Roman observance was as a call to the readings from the Old Testament, especially Psalm 118:26, "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini" (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord). Psalm 118, a Psalm of Victory. The Benedictus was repeated in Matthew 21:9. Psalm 118 also ends with the litany, "For God's mercy (steadfast love) endures forever." The three-phrase Kyrie-Christe-Kyrie eleison was initially chanted (sung) by the congregation as a canticle of biblical text referring to God's assertive activity in the world. The “mercy” litany also is found as “miserere nobis” (have mercy upon us) twice in the ensuing “Gloria” section of the Mass as well as twice in the closing “Agnus Dei” (Lamb of God) section.

The "Gloria in excelsis Deo (gig dance)" (Glory to God in the highest) is a hymn of praise written in imitation of the Psalms. It is an expansion or elaboration of the canticle, Luke 2:14, itself modeled on previous Old Testament Psalms and canticles. Luke attributed the song to the angels at Jesus' birth and it is called the Greater Doxology. The “Gloria Patri et Filio et Spirtui sancto” (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit) is a Trinitarian statement, called the Lesser Doxology, dating from the Fourth Century. It is used to close the afternoon Vesper proper services of particular readings and chants for various services in the church year. Bach used both doxologies of praise to God in his Latin Christmas Cantata 191, composed in the mid-1740s.

The authorship and age of the complete “Gloria in excelsis Deo” are unknown. The “Gloria” opening angelic hymn has the refrain “Et in terra pax hominibus, bonae voluntatis” (and on earth peace to men of good will). This continues with acclamations, petitions, and the repeated litany “miserere nobis” (have mercy on us). The entire “Gloria” section concludes with a short Doxology, or expression of adoration to God, beginning “Quoniam tu solus sanctus” (For thou alone art holy). By the fourth century it was associated with morning prayer (lauds), as was the "Benedictus." Then it was imported into the Eucharist (Communion) of the Mass, or second half of the Mass (the first half being the Word of the Mass), appearing after the tripartite “Kyrie.” Historically, the Mass has been celebrated on Sunday mornings.

The "Credo" (I believe) or creed was first used in worship during baptism, which explains the formation of the initial Apostles Creed. The christological controversies of the first centuries, however, led to the introduction of the Nicene Creed, an expansion of the Apostles Creed, from the Council of Niceae (325 CE) into the Eucharist of the Mass. The Credo affirms a triune, Trinitarian form of God as creator, redeem, and sanctifier. The Credo is the primary Christian doctrine, or statement of belief.

There followed several centuries of divergent communion practice during the second half of the Mass. Eventually the "Credo" was placed before the Institution of the sacraments and before the "Sanctus" (Holy, from Isaiah 6:3) and the established "Benedictus" (Blessed) during the codification of Gregory the Great (590-604). Around 700, the "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God) was assigned to be sung at the Communion Fraction, the symbolic breaking of the bread or Christ's body. The "Agnus Dei" from John 1:29 had previously been used during the last two-thirds of the "Gloria," in the plea to Jesus Christ, the Domine Fili unigenite” (Lord, the only-begotten son). Now, the Mass closing, “Agnus Dei qui tolls peccata mundi” (who takes away the sins of the world) is intoned three times, followed by the response, “miserei nobis” (have mercy on us), said twice, with the third, closing response being “Dona nobis pacem” (grant us peace), a phrase that has been attributed to Charlemagne, c800.

Lutheran Theological Manifestations

The Lutheran four manifestations of theological principle — Bible, Catechism, Hymnal, and Liturgical Order — found in the Deutsche Messe. The emphasis on biblical word in the vernacular guided the musical setting, which by Bach’s time involved Italianate musical styles and settings of the biblical text, leading to the development of the cantata as a musical sermon or homily This included the use of learned symbolism such as the vox Christi, “especially where there is a dialogue between the soul (soprano), and Christ (bass),” often based on the Song of Songs, says Leaver (Ibid.: 298). Luther’s Catechism of the Christian principles and, simultaneously, the development of associated chorales culminated in Bach’s 1739 creation of the Clavierübung (CU) III Catechism Chorales, BWV BWV 768-689.

The Hymnal was established and developed between the Forumla missae of 1723 and the Deutsche Messe of 1526 with the expanded role of Congregational singing in the vernacular. In the latter hymns serve three functions. First are hymns as substitutes for the Mass Ordinary and Propers as liturgical prose, noteworthy being Bach’s setting of the Gloria hymn, “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr’” (CU BWV 675-677, and miscellaneous organ preludes BWV 711, 7145, 717, and 771), as well as the German Missa Kyrie settings, BWV 669-674. Meanwhile, Bach retained the Latin texts of the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria with contrafaction settings, BWV 233a-236 for feast day Mass and Vesper services, along with Clavierübung III organ chorale prelude settings. Second, hymns were sung in preparation for the pulpit sermon on the days Gospel in the main service and the epistle in the afternoon vesper service. These were called Gradual Songs preparing for the sermon and are a major part of the de tempore service chorale preludes in the Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ book), BWV 599-644, as well as in many of Bach’s chorale cantatas in the second Leipzig cycle (1724-25). Third, were the hymns to be sung during communion, among the first Luther designated, including Luther's “Jesus Christus, under Heiland,” the Catechism Communion Hymn; the German Sanctus, “Jesaja, dem Propheten, das geschah”; the German Creed, “Wir glauben all an einem Gott”; and the German Agnus Dei, (O Christ, Thou Lamb of God). Another category of familiar chorales were the settings of Penitential Psalms, including Psalm 130, the de profundis, especially Luther’s Catechism Confession setting, “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” (Out of the deep I cry to you).

The Deutsche Messe plays several major roles in the Liturgical Order of the Lutheran Church. It preserves the historical form, including the traditional, sequential paradigm of Mass Propers readings for each service, as well as the traditional chants and tones. It preserves the Mass Ordinary symmetrical (mirror) form of opening and closing “Have mercy on us” litany, Kyrie eleison and Agnus Dei-Miserere nobis, the internal pairing of the Gloria Doxology with the penultimate prayer of the Sanctus-Osanna-Benedictus, on either side of the central, extended confession of faith Trinitarian Credo in unum Deum (I believe in one God). As the Lutheran hymn books developed and each area developed its own versions, other alternative versions of the Deutsche Messe five settings also were created and in Bach’s time, he found other settings of the Sanctus, the German Heilig (Holy) as well as other Mass liturgical songs.

Kyrie eleison, Gott Vater

The liturgical prayer for mercy or Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy, Erbarme dich, mein Gott) is a simple litany or petition that opens the Mass Ordinary and in Luther’s Deutsche Messe. It is set in the Dorian mode of the Kyrie eleison, as well as his identical incipit setting of the German Agnus Dei, “Christe, du Lamb Gottes" (O Christ, thou Lamb of God), the Verba Testamenti or essence of the Eucharist near the end of the Mass divine service. Both the Kyrie and Agnus Dei are thrice-repeated expressions of mercy.4 To reinforce this overall arching , Luther also advocated that the German Mass open with a Dorian chant of the prose Psalm 34, Benedicam Dominum (I will bless the Lord, kjv,, “which has longstanding eucharistic associations,” especially verse 8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good,” observes Leaver (Ibid.: Chapter 12, Musical Hermeneutics in Luther’s Liturgical Reforms: 187). Later by 1533, Luther included in his hymnbook to be sung during communion, another vernacular setting, “All Ehr und lob soll Gottes” (All glory be to God alone,, Psalm 111, Confiteor tibi (Praise ye the Lord, kjv,, which also is an alternative German Gloria setting. Thus while Psalm 34 anticipates communion, Psalm 111 refers Bach to the Verba Testamenti, especially verse 4, “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered.” Luther also strengthen this palindrome symmetry with pairs of the German Gloria and German Sanctus during communion, Leaver points out.

The Kyrie is the well-known German trope, “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,” an anonymous contrafactum of the Latin trope, Fons bonitatis, first published in 1537 (NLGB: 423f,, Kyrie Gott Vater in ewigkeit” (Kyrie, God Father in heaven above) anonymous texts are, The anonymous text was published as Kyrie summum, deutsch in the Naumberger Gesangbuch of 1537 and the anonymous melody, in three continuous, unequal, trinitarian non-strophic stanzas, is from the Teutsch Kirchenamt (Erfurt, 1525). Each stanza address a member of the Trinity, God there Father as maker and Preserver, Jesus Christ the Son as Mediator, and the Holy Spirit as guardian of the faith. The incipit (found in Leaver: 198) is identical to that of the German Agnus Dei, “Christe, du Lamb Gottes).

The text of the German Kyrie is: “Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, / Groß ist dein' Barmherzigkeit, / Aller Ding' ein Schöpfer und Regierer. / Eleison, Eleison! 2. Christe, aller Welt Trost / Uns Sünder allein du hast erlöst. / O Jesu, Gottes Sohn, / Unser Mittler bist in dem höchsten Thron; / Zu dir schreien wir aus Herzensbegier: / Eleison, eleison! 3. Kyrie, Gott Heiliger Geist, / Tröst, stärk uns im Glauben allermeist, / Daß wir am letzten End’ / Fröhlich abscheiden aus diesem Elend. / Eleison, Eleison! Amen.” The English translation is: “O Lord the Father for evermore! / We Thy wondrous grace adore; We confess Thy power, all worlds upholding. / Have mercy, Lord. 2. O Christ, our Hope alone, / Who with Thy blood didst for us atone; / O Jesu! Son of God! / Our Redeemer! our Advocate on high! / Lord, to Thee alone in our need we cry, Have mercy, Lord. 3. Holy Lord, God the Holy Ghost! Who of life and light the fountain art, / With faith sustain our heart, /That at the last we hence in peace depart. / Have mercy, Lord.”

Bach Kyrie Settings

Of the 24 movements in the four festive, concerted Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 232a-236, the only original music is the Kyrie in the Mass in F Major, BWV 233a ( It began as a separate Kyrie setting, in Mühlhausen-Weimar (1707-1717) that used the cantus firmus, “Christe, du Lamm Gottes” (Christ Thou Lamb of God) sung in the lost original version but in Leipzig replaced by horns and oboes. It has features in common with Bach's settings of the “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit” in the Clavierübung III. Initially, Bach set the melody in the Orgelbüchlein for Passiontiude, BWV 619. Later, Bach set the cantus firmus in the chorale chorus that closes Cantata 23 (, his 1723 Leipzig probe piece, that Bach also used to close the second version of his St. John Passion in 1725 (BWV 245/40a). Some Bach scholars have suggested that this chorus originated in the “lost Weimar-Gotha” Passion Oratorio of 1717.

Bach’s four-part plain chorale setting of “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,” BWV 371 (,, has all three portions of the cantus firmus continuous melody in three unequal stanzas. It is found in the de tempore Trinity Festival section of Bach’s Das new Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB), No. 144a,b (Zahn melody 8600c), with the Gregiorian chant Kyrie fons bonitatis, Pater. It “was commonly sung every [de tempore] Sunday from Trinity to Christmas in German Lutheran Parishes,” says Mark S. Bighley.6

Bach’s 1739 Clavierübung III setting of the German Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 669-676 entails two complete, arithmetic settings of the Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit — Aller Welt trost — Gott heiliger Geist in which the chant appears in the soprano (Kyrie I), tenor (Christe) and bass (Kyrie II). The first Greater Kyrie pedal cycle, BWV 669-671, in Phrygian mode G, strict Alle breve 4/2 have chorale motets in short segments with stile antico counterpoint (,, Peter Williams describes then as follows: BWV 669, “monothematic, ricercare-like, vocal polyphony,”; BWV 770, “cantus firmus en taille, given freer treatment”; and BWV 771, “several subjects combining in turn with c.f.” In contrast are the Less Kyrie cycle manual “fughetta” preludes, BWV 672-674, in alio modo (different mode) are free contrapuntal workings in modern harmonic settings with the modern tempi of 3/4, 6/8, and 9/8 and having an increasingly somewhat gigue-like character (,,

Alternate Litany Kyrie

The melodic and textual connections are shown between the chorale chorus, “Christe du Lamm Gottes,” BWV 23/4, and “The Kyrie” from Luther’s German Litany (1529) as found in the opening of the Mass in F, BWV 233a, that quotes both the German and Latin, says Leaver in another study. 7 Leaver shows that Psalm Tone 1 (Dorian) is the basis from the “Kyrie” in Luther’s Deutsche Messe (1526), as variants of the Zahn melody 8607b. “In the concluding Choral, Bach uses the melody and words of the Antiphon, ‘Christe, du Lamm Gottes.’ Words and melody appear together in the Pfalz-Neuburg Kirchenordnung (Nürnberg, 1557), and “obviously have a pre-Reformation association,” says Charles S. Terry.8 The words of the chorale are a prose translation of the “Agnus Dei,” and are found in Low German in the Brunswick Kirchenordnung of 1528, and in High German in the Saxon Kirchenordnung of 1540. The dorian melody may derive from a Gregorian tone (e.g. Liber usualis, Mass IV) and was set as an Orgelbüchlein prelude in canon, BWV 619 (Passiontide,, in Weimar, saysPeter William in The Organ Music of J. S. Bach.9 Bach also used the melody in the orchestra in the opening of chorale Cantata 127, “Herr Jesu, Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott,” also for Estomihi 1725.

In 1529, in conjunction with his “The Latin Litany Corrected,” Luther created his own chant and text, “that begins and ends with the traditional pleas for mercy, Kyrie eleison and Mieserere nobis, to which he inserted various contemporary communal prayers ( “Much of the historic Litany was retained by the Lutheran Church. Luther hailed it as one of the greatest Christian prayers ever, says Wikipedia “Litany” ( “ When faced with the Turkish armies at the gates of Vienna in 1528/29, Luther exhorted pastors to call their Christian people to repentance and prayer. He recommended the use of the Litany during the Sunday mass or Vespers. In 1529, he, after modifying the traditional Litany of the Saints (mostly by removing the invocation of saints and prayers for the pope), began using the Litany at Wittenberg in Latin and German. Thomas Cranmer used Luther's revised Litany as one of his main sources in the preparation of the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer. Today, a form of the Litany continues to be used in the various Lutheran Churches around the world.”

Gloria: “Allein Gott,’” Other Settings

Like the German Kyrie, the German Gloria, “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr’” (To God alone on high be glory) was not composed by Martin Luther but has had an even greater impact on musical settings. In particular are those of Bach, who used it in various liturgical settings, primarily as organ choral preludes, as well the melody use with alternate texts in various joyous cantatas. Attributed to Nikolaus Decius, the hymn is set in four-stanza BAR form (see BCW text and Francis Browne English translation,; BCW melody information, including Bach’s uses and those of other composers, Decius wrote three stanzas, probably in 1523 at Braunschweig, while a fourth was added by Joachim Slüter in 1525, says Wikipedia (öh_sei_Ehr). The first two stanzas describe God the Father in general terms, the third stanza describes Jesus Christ as “reconciler of those who were lost, appeaser of our discord,” and sacrificial “Lamb of God” (Agnus Dei); while the last stanza describes the Holy Spirit as consoler and protector.

The chorale (Wackernagel III:566f, EG 179, EKG 131) was first printed in Low German in Slüter's Geystlyke leder (Rostock, 1531) and in High German, possibly Luther’s adaptation, in Valentin Schumann’s Geistliche Lieder (Leipzig, 1539), with the Decius melody. The melody (Zahn 4457) is based on the Gloria in excelsis Deo, from the mass for Easter in 10th century Gregorian chant, the “et in terra pax” portion of the Lux et origo.. It is found in the NLGB as No. 145, a Trinityfest chorale. In 1537 Luther also made a metrical Gloria, “All Ehr und Lob soll Gottes sein’,” sung to a different adaptation of the same plainsong melody (see This version, which Bach did not set, “follows the Latin text more closely and is similarly based on the same Gloria Paschale chants that Decius used,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 219).

Bach set the melody and text as a four-part plain chorale, BWV 260 (and other settings, He set the melody in various organ chorale prelude settings: in early miscellaneous chorale settings, BWV 711 (Kirnberger collection) and BWV 715-717; in the Orgelbüchlein as a Trinityfest prelude but not set (No. 58); in three versions in the “Great 18” (Weimar, with Leipzig revisions after 1739), BWV 662-664; and three times in the Clavierübung III, BWV 675-77. All three German Mass Gloria settings have allusion to the trinity with playful angels as set in chorale three-voice trios with different keys, meters, and styles: BWV 675 in F Major, 3/4, two-part manual invention (; BWV 676 in G Major, 6/8, pedal galant (; and BWV 677 in a minor, manual double-fughetta ( Textual references are found in all three preludes, Anne Leahy finds:10 BWV 675, “hominibus bone voluntatis (goodwill toward men) in the unadorned pedal part; BWV 676, reinforced in canon “to portray the idea of God’s will, the most” being the Lord’s Prayer setting, BWV 682 (Ibid.: 199); and BWV 677, the opening motive cross form as a reference to Christ (Ibid.: 209). Tonally, “the G Major triad which opens the Catechism cycle is also the ‘mean term’ of the ascending progression in the Gloria cycle,” says Humphreys (Ibid.: 75).

Bach in Leipzig paid tribute to the Gloria — both in the greater and lesser Doxology — in his concerted Christologiocal cycle. Especially noticeable is the use of the Latin “Gloria in excess Deo” of the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria, BWV 233-236 of the late1730s, and the BWV 233a initial Gloria to open Latin Christmas Cantata 191 in the mid-1740s. The settings of other composers Bach performed include the Missa, BWV Anh. 24-26, and most notably cousin Ludwig’s 1716 “Missa sopra, ‘Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr’,” BWV 166, which uses the Decius melody and which Bach performed in 1729 (, see BCW The “Gloria in excess Deo” (Glory to God in then highest), focuses on Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. In the 1734 Christmas Oratorio Part 2, Bach set the angel’s canticle as a motet chorus, “Ehre see Gott on der Höhe” (, and another paraphrase opening Part 4, "Ehre sei Dir, Gott gesungen” (

The Lesser Doxology, Gloria patri, closes the Latin Psalm settings in the Catholic Vespers and in settings closing the Latin and German Magnificat, most notably in Bach’s BWV 243 ( and his Cantata 10, chorale “Lob un Preis sei Gott dem Vater und dem Sohn,”, and chorale, BWV 324, In Cantata 191, possibly for a special thanksgiving service, Bach sets the "Gloria patri" as a 4/4 slow love-duet for soprano and tenor, a contrafaction of the “Domine Deus" (Lord God) from the same Missa “Gloria” (

Credo: “Wir glauben all”

The centerpiece of the Latin Mass Ordinary and the Deutsche Messe are the “Credo in unum Deum” and Luther’s “Wir glauben all an einem Gott” (We all believe in one God). For Luther, his setting replaced the Latin version as a theological statement used in the Mass following the Gospel, as a Catechismteaching song, and during the Deutsche Messe as a communion hymn (texts,, Luther’s setting from pre-Reformation German sources (Bighley, Ibid.: 252) and found in a Bresalau manuscript in 1417, Luther’s version is based on the Apostles Creed with theological inflections as catechism teaching, first published in Chorgesangbuch (Wittenberg, 1524). It is found in the 1682 NLGB as No. 174 (Zahn 7911, Wackernagel III: 16). Known in English as “We all believe in one true God,” it is found in the unison setting in the current Evangelical Lutheran Worship as No. 411, “Holy Trinity,” while the current Lutheran Service Book also has the four-part setting, both (nos. 953, 954) in the Liturgical Music section.

Luther composed “Wir glauben all an einem Gott” first as a Trinitarian hymn with its proximity to Walther’s trinitarian litany, “Gott der Vater wohn uns bei” (God the Father, with us be,,, in Wather’s 1524 hymnal. It is found in the NLGB as a Trinityfest hymn No. 139 (Zahn 8507). Bach harmonized this BAR chorale as BWV 317 (,, after designating it in the Orgelbüchlein as a Trinityfest chorale (no. 52, unset). The organ prelude setting, BWV 748, now is attributed to Johann Walther, Bach Weimar cousin (

Bach’s Catechism settings of “Wir glauben all an einem Gott,” BWV 680-681, are the centerpiece of his Clavierübung III, placed in the Catechism section after the 10 commandments and preceding the Lord’s Prayer. Thematically the Creed preludes are based on the Gregorian version of Dorian Credo IV from the Catholic Liber usualis. In setting BWV 680, in 2/4 Italian style, “Bach used this beautiful, sweeping and expansive melody for a fugue,” observes says Elsie Fitzer CU liner notes11 (music, The fugal theme and pedal obstinate figure (bars 4-9) established the sense of stability in the believers faith as expressed in the creed, particularly in the Pauline language of “grounded and steadfast’ faith (Colossians 1:23), observes Humphries (Ibid.: 54). Musically, the Italian style of ritornello shape also involves a “striding obstinate bass line without pauses,” showing the influence of Bach’s Credo section addition to Bassani’s Mass in F (, says Williams (Ibid.: 412).

Like his study of the Kyrie eleison beginning in Weimar, Bach systematically pursued the Credo in Leipzig, particularly in the 1740 when he composed the remainer of his “Great Catholic” B Minor Mass. Bach had the Bassani Masses copied between 1736 and 1740 when he was working on the Clavierübung III. Later, in 1747-1748, he himself composed ex novo the intonation (Credo in unum Deum) for the fifth of these. This brief composition (16 bars in length) in F major for four voices (SATB) and continuo (BWV 1081) follows the style of the collection and introduces the same plainchant intonation that J. S. Bach used in the Symbolum Niceum of his Mass in B minor (BWV 232).

The shortest of the prelude collection, lasting just over one minute, is the “Fughetta super,” BWV 681, in 4/4. The galant dotted rhythm embellishes the first chorale line, in the manner of Buxtehude, to “symbolize God’s almighty power,” says Fitzer (Ibid.), The contrasting Italian style in the flowing cantabile “characterizes faith as an all-embracing entity,” she says.

Sanctus-Osana-Benedictus Complex

Following the engaging central Credo of the Mass is the return to the mood of praise and thanksgiving with the concise Sanctus complex of Sanctus-Osanna-Benedictus, a mirror of the joyous Gloria in its opening and closing that precedes the Credo. Textually, instead of the Gloria focus on Jesus Christ, the Sanctus complex is a celebration of Old Testament prayer. Originally in the Deutsche Messe of 1726, Luther first provided a simple translation of the liturgical Latin Sanctus: “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus / Dominus Deus Sabaoth. / Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua. / Hosanna in excelsis. / Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. / Hosanna in excelsis” for the elevation of the host. A similar representation of Isaiah 6:3b is found in Revelation 4:8 (see The Benedictus is based on Matthew 21:9 (kjv), Jesus entry into Jerusalem, “ And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” This is based on Psalm 118:26a, “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” “Hosanna” is Latinized Hebrew, from “hosa-na" (save us), with the addition of “in excelsis” (in the highest).

Then Luther created a versification of the broader Isaiah 6:1-6 passage, “Jesaiah dem propheten das geschah,” where Isaiah becomes a prophet, beyond the liturgical verse 3b, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (, Luther set the seraphic hymn as a vernacular Sequence “written in rhymed couplets of 10 syllables . . . even though it was to be sung during Communion rather than in between the Epistle and Gospel,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 232).

At the same time, in order to preserve and enhance the symmetry in his vernacular Deutsche Messe, Luther again resorted to the same melody as he had found in the German Gloria, “Allein Gott in der Höh' set Ehr’,” duplicating the process he had used in his settings of the opening “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit” and the closing German Agnus Dei, “Christe, du Lamm Gottes.” The Gloria tempore paschal chant, “Gloria in excess Deo,” again was chosen (see The only difference was that in the German Gloria setting of Nicklaus Decius the Tone 4 Phrygian had been used signifying “soothing”; now Tone 5 Lydian was employed, representing “joyful,” thus retaining their modal identity. While neither Luther’s German Gloria or German Agnus Dei “was included in the original Deutsche Messe, the German Sanctus was given complete with text and melody,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 231).7 Luther’s German Sanctus setting “soon disappeared from mainstream hymnals” but his German Sanctus has never been displaced from Lutheran hymnals,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 238). The Luther German Sanctus, Esaia den Propheten,” is found in the NLGB as No. 183, Catechism: Communion hymn (Zahn 8534). Today, as “Isaiah, mighty seer in day of old,” the melody and text are found in The Lutheran Service Book as No 960, Liturgical Music, after the Lord’s Prayer (

Bach’s Sanctus Settings

About the time Bach composed the plain chorale settings for the Deutsche Messe, ?c1730, he included in lieu of Luther’s German Sanctus, “Jesaiah dem propheten, a liturgical “Heilig, Heilig” (Holy, Holy),BWV 325 (BC F 79.1 (,, which includes the complete Latin complex in the vernacular: “Heilig, heilig, helig, / bist du, Herr, Gott Zebaoth! / Alle lande sind seiner Ehre voll. / Hosianna in der Höhe. / Gelobet sei, der da kommt / in Namen des Herrn. / Hosianna in der Höhe.” Holy, holy, holy / art Thou, Lord God of Sabaoth! / All the lands do venerate His name / Blessed is he that comes / in the name of the Lord. Hoisanna in the highest” (Source: Edition Bachakademie Vol. 81, A Book of Chorale-Settings for German Mass). The melody is based on the plainsong found in the Kirchengesanng Deutsch und Lateinisch (Nürnberg, 1557) and the German text is based on Luther’s translation.

In Bach’s Leipzig a short, concerted setting of the Latin Sanctus was performed on feast days before the Institution. Bach responded with several compositions for chorus and orchestra with trumpets and drums, BWV 237-241. Liturgically in the Leipzig concerted setting, the Latin text omitted the Hosana and Benedictus. In the Roman rite, the phrase “Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua” added the word “mastitis” after “terra” in the Te Deum and Requiem sequences, the formed set by Luther in the vernacular, “Herr Gott, dich loben wir,” which Bach set. In Bach’s setting of the B-Minor Mass, he changed the word “tua” to “eus.” The initial Sanctus in C Major, BWV 237, for SSATB in 4/4, a pastorale-gigue, was composed for Christmas 1724 and repeated in 1727 and 1742-48, and incorporated in D Major, BWV 232III, into the B-Minor Mass in the late 1740s.

Other concerted Sanctus performances with scores in Bach’s hand12 included a D Major setting, BWV 241 (BC E 17) in D (SSATB & orchestra without trumpets, Bach reworking from Johann Kaspar Kerll Mass), May/June 1723 for Pentecost, Trinity or Baptist feast; another D Major setting, BWV 238 (SATB, orchestra with trumpet) for Christmas 1723/Easter 1724, c.1735 Leipzig New Church, and 1736-37; and two performances undated (SATB with orchestra, no trumpets), Sanctus in D, BWV 239, 1738-41, and BWV 240 in G, c.1742.

Agnus Dei: Luther, Decius Versions

For the final section of the sung Mass, the three-fold liturgical prayer for mercy, Agnus Dei or Lamb of God, Luther in the 1526 Deutsche Messe directed that the German Agnus Dei be sung during communion. He probably was referring to “Christe, du Lamm Gottes (Christ, Thou Lamb of God), since its melody was reminiscent of the German “Kyrie Got Vater, and formed a musical symmetry, like the pairing of the melody of the German Gloria and Sanctus. The two traditional parts of the Mass liturgy, the ministries of the word and sacrament, focused “on the proclamation of forgiveness and grace in the Gospel pericope and the Verba Testamenti,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 185). The Verba Testamenti was Luther’s sung sequence of the sacramental words of institution, followed by the German Sanctus at the Regnum elevation of the host. The hymn was first printed in Buggenhagen’s Braunschweig Church Order (Wittenberg, 1528,,, based on the incipit of the German Kyrie (,_du_Lamm_Gottes). These “two threefold liturgical prayers for mercy — “eleison” and “erbarm dich unser” — begin with exactly the same melodic form,” Leaver observes (Ibid.: 198). The dual usage created “an imaginative ambiguity that was effectively used by, for example, the composer Johann Sebastian Bach,” Leaver says (Ibid.: 199). It is not found in the NKGB. The German text is: “Christe, du Lamm Gottes, / Der du trägst die Sünd der Welt, / Erbarm dich unser!” with “Gib uns dein' Frieden. Amen” replacing “Erbarm dich unser.” English translation (Francis Browne): “Christ, you lamb of God, / you who take away the sins of the world. / have mercy on us!” Third stanza ending, “grant us your peace. Amen.”

The other major German Agnus Dei setting, Decius’ “O Lamm Gottes unschuldig” (O Lamb of God spotless), was printed in 1531 Geistliche lieder (Rostock hymnbook), but, like his German Gloria, “Allein Gott in der Höh' set Ehr’,” “stem from the period of late summer 1522 to early 1523,” says Leahy (Ibid.: 618), and are set to original Gregorian melodies. Both liturgical hymns appeared in High German in Valentin Schumann’s Leipzig hymnbook in 1539. The Agnus Dei originated in the Greek Church, sung at Matins. The melody (Zahn 4361) originated with the Psalm 45 hymn setting, Eructavit for meum (My heart is inditing a good matter, kjv, of the Responsary Regnum Mundi from the 13c Commune sanctorum, says Leahy. The text in three stanzas asks for mercy in the first two and for peace in the third (,_unschuldig). The liturgical hymn (Wackernagel III: 568) is found in the NLGB as No. 79 for Passiontide. The Decius version Bach probably performed at the Leipzig Good Friday Vespers between the sermon and Communion (see, No. 25).

The text is: 1-3 “O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig / am Stamm des Kreuzes geschlachtet, / allzeit erfunden geduldig, / wiewohl du warest verachtet, / all Sünd hast du getragen, / sonst müssten wir verzagen. 1–2 Erbarm dich unser, o Jesu. 3 Gib deinen Frieden, o Jesu.” The English translation is: “O Lamb of God, most stainless! / Who on the Cross didst languish, / Patient through all Thy sorrows. / Though mocked amid Thine anguish; / Our sins Thou bearest for us, / Else had despair reigned o'er us: 1-2, Have mercy upon us, O Jesu! 3 Grant us Thy peace today, O Jesu!”

Bach set both early German Agnus Dei settings in his works. “Christe, du Lamm Gottes” as a chorale chorus closes Cantatas 23 and the melody is found in Cantata 127 as well as the Kyrie in F, BWV 233a, and in the Orgelbüchlein Passiontide chorale, BWV 619 (see above, Alternate Litany Kyrie). Bach’s uses of the “O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig” are found in the opening chorus of the St. Matthew Passion; plain chorale, BWV 401 (; Orgelbüchlein prelude, BWV 618; “Leipzig Great 18” prelude, BWV 656; prelude, BWV 1085; Neumeister prelude, BWV 1095; prelude, BWV deest (

The Decius text contrasts the innocence of the sacrificial lamb with the guilt of humanity, says Leahy in her “Great 18” essay (Ibid.: 92). She cites views that this text makes explicit what the Latin version only implies while the hymn also is both a liturgical confession and an appropriate communion hymn, many having “strong associations with the Passion, most notably Luther’s catechism hymn, “Jesus Christus, unser Heiland,” the first stanza “dealing explicitly with the Passion of Christ” (,_unser_Heiland,_der_von_uns_den_Gotteszorn_wandt). Bach’s plain chorale setting, BWV 363 (, and the Catechism setting, BWV 689 ( are liturgically appropriate for the Deutsche Messe and Bach’s vesper service. Communion chorales as found in the main service in Bach’s time are considered in next week’s BCML Discussion: “Confession and Communion Chorales,” particularly as they relate to Christological considerations.

Deutsche Messe: Two Pulpit Hymns

“Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,” opens the Deutsche Messe in a musical reconstruction in Leipzig of Helmut Rilling ( It is preceded with settings of two pulpit chorales: “Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend,” Chorale prelude (BWV 709), and Chorale-Setting (BWV 332), and “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier” ( Chorale-Setting (BWV 373).

“Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend” is one of four chorales in Leipzig “sung by the congregation at the main service every Sunday, says Günther Stiller,14 as the liturgical pulpit hymn before the sermon, BWV 332 (, The others are Deutsche Messe mainstays, “Kyrie Gott Vater in Ewigkeit,” “Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr’,” and “Wir glauben all an einem Gott.” These chorales probably were sung by the choir and congregation, says Stiller. As a result, Bach set the melody of “Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend,” related to six Latin odes, as organ chorales in the Orgelbüchlein, BWV 632 (Pentecost) (; miscellaneous chorales, BWV 709 (Rilling), 726, and 749; and the “Great 18,” BWV 655 ( Bach did not set this hymn in any of his cantatas. Since sola scriptura was essential to Lutherans, this chorale in its opening call to Christ and the Holy Spirit for guidance “was fitting before the scriptures were heard,” says Anne Leahy (Ibid.: 80).

“Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend” is found in the NLGB No. 314 (Word of God & Christian Church, Fischer Tümpel II:77); melody Pensum sacram (Zahn 624), after an older melody (Görlitz, 1648); text Wilhelm II of Saxe-Weimar, Luterisch Hand-Büchlein (Altenberg: 1648; text and Francis Browne English translation, BCW Bach also could have presented the organ and/or chorale setting(s) at the afternoon vesper festival service on the Feast of John the Baptist, June 24.

“Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier” is also a pulpit hymn but is not found in the NLGB (Fischer Tümpel V: 218-19; text Tobias Clausnitzer 1663 and BCW translation, Bach set it as a plain chorale, BWV 373, text of Tobias Clausnitzer (, Bach set the melody (Zahn 3498b) as an organ chorale in the Orgelbüchlein, BWV 633 (, and 634 (Pentecost), and as a Miscellaneous Chorale, BWV 706, 730 and 754. The melody appeared in Das gross Cantional (Darmstadt, 1687), source after J. R. Ahle, Neue geistliche auk die Sonntag durchs gantze Jahre reroichtete Addachten (Mühlhausen, 1664), to “Ja, er ists das Heir der Welt.”

Other Deutsche Messe Liturgical Hymns

The Rilling Deutsche Messe recording presents other Bach liturgical chorale settings of Luther, such as the Catechism chorales “Dies sind die Heiligen zehn Gebot” on the commandments, most appropriate for vespers, and the Lord’s Prayer, “Vater unser in Himmelreich,” for both main and vesper services of the word, and the Communion hymn, “Jesus Christus unser Heiland.” Also found is the Luther/Walther 1524 “Gott set gelobet und gedenedeit,” listed in the Orgelbüchlein as No. 70 for Communion but not set while he did set it as a plain chorale, BWV 322 (,, It is found in the NLGB as No. 185, as a Catechism Communion chorale. Also in the Deutsche Messe Rilling setting is Luther’ German Te Deum, “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (,_dich_loben_wir), which in the NLGB is listed as No. 167 for the Feast of the Apostles (Zahn 8652) that Bach listed in the Orgelbüchlein as No. 59 unset, for this feast for Saints Simon and Jude (Oct. 28). Bach used this hymn in Leipzig for New Year’s services in Cantatas 16 and 190, and Town Council installation services in Cantata 119 and 120, as well as the melody in prelude, BWV 325 (, and in plain chorale setting, BWV 328 (,, text, melody

The earliest hymnbook, Walther’s Chor Gesangbuch (Wittenberg, 1524), provides eight omnes tempore (Ordinary Time) hymns with their themes, including three Luther settings appropriate for Mass and Vesper services, says Leaver (Ibid: 110). “Mitten wir im Leben sind” (In the midst of earthly life) on the “Effect of Law/Repentance,” is a Leissen appropriate with the German Kyrie or Agnus Dei. It is Luther’s setting of the Middle Ages Latin antiphon, Media vita in morte sumus (In the midst of life we are in death) ( It is in three stanzas with chorus (, In Bach’s time it was the Hymn of the Day for the 16th Sunday after Trinity (NLGB No. 344, Death & Dying, Zahn 8502) and it is found in the Orgelbüchlein as No. 129 for Death & Dying but not set. Bach set it as a plain chorale, BWV 383 ( Bach also may also have presented the Jakob Handl (Gallus) 8-voice setting polyphonic motet from his collection, Erhardt Bodenschatz’ Florilegium Portense, for Introit, before Sermon at mass and vespers and during Communion.

“Nun freut euch lieben Christen gmein (Dear Christians one and all rejoice) on the “Effect of Faith/Law and Gospel/Justification,” is a Meistersinger-style song used as as a pulpit hymn. It its found in the NLGB No. 232, Catechism: Justification, and is a Catechism communion hymn (Stiller, Ibid.: 128). Martin Luther's 10-verse Advent hymn is a "ballad on Christ's Incarnation," later associated with Ascension and Sundays after Trinity, says Peter Williams(Ibid.: 476f). It is listed but not set in the Orgelbüchlein as No 85 for Communion but set as a plain chorale, BWV 388,, and as a prelude, BWV 734 ( A Communion setting of Psalm 111, the anonymous “I will praise the Lord with my whole heart” in chant and response, is printed with English translation in Leupold (“The Communio,” Ibid..: 182f).

Catechism Morning, Evening Songs

In Luther’s Small Catechism in the section on morning and evening prayers at home, Luther suggested that morning prayers could include a hymn on the Ten Commandments, says Leaver (Ibid.: 109). Luther did provide collects verse settings for all services, including baptism, marriage and ordination. Later Catechism morning and evening songs are found in the NLGB following the Catechism chorales as Nos. 190 to 212. Morning and Evening songs are recorded in Rilling’s anthology (, In Bach’s first template for a “well-regulated church music,” the Orgelbüchlein, Bach’s lists the Morning and Evening hymns near the end, probably following the order of the Gotha 1715 hymnal. Here is a listing, based on the Orgelbüchlein order, of Bach’s settings as plain chorales (PC) as well as sacred songs of the Schmelli Gesangbuch (SG) 1736 [* Rilling recording]:

Morning hymns

143. “Gott des Himmels und der Erden”; BWV 248/53(PC); Walter LV89
144. “Ich dank’ dir, lieber Herre”; BWV 346-48(PC); J.C. Bach, nr. 40*
145. “Aus meines Herzens Grunde”; BWV 269, SBCB 153; Walther LV 71
146. “Ich dank’ dir schon durch deinen Sohn”; BWV 349; J.C. Bach nr. 42*
147. “Das walt’ mein Gott”; BWV 291(PC)
-- “Auf, auf! Die rechte Zeit ist hier”; BWV 440(SG, also Advent)*
-- “Aus meines Herzens grunde”; BWV 269(PC)*
-- “Dank sei Gott in der Höhe”; BWV 287(PC)*
-- “Die güldne Sonne”; BWV 451(SG)*
-- “Für deinen Thron tret ich hiermit”; BWV 327(PC)*
-- “Gott, der du selber bist das Licht; BWV 316(PC)*
-- “Ich dank dir, Gott, für deine Wohltat”; BWV 346(PC)*
-- “Ich danke dir, o Gott, in deinem Thron”; BWV 350(PC)*

Evening hymns

148. “Christ(e), der du bist der helle Tag” (Christe qui lux es et dies) (NLGB 206); BWV 273(PC), BWV 766(CP), BWV 1120(NC)*
149. “Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht (Christe qui lux es et dies; NLGB 205 (Psalm 4); BWV 274(PC), BWV 1096* (NC, doubtful, possibly by Johann Pachelbel); see OB 26, BWV 623 (Passiontide)*
150. “Werde munter, mein Gemuthe (NLGB 208); BWV 246/8, BWV 244/48, CC BWV 55/5, BWV 359-60(PC); SBCB 58 (=Der am Kreuz ist mein Liebe, Passion), BWV 1118(NC) (also Passiontide)
151. “Nun ruhen alle Wälder” (NLGB 209, mel. O Welt, ich muß dich lassen); BWV 392(PC), BWV 756(MC)*
--- “Der lieben Sonne Licht und Pracht”; BWV446(SG)*
--- “Der Tag ist him”/”Die Sonn hat sich mit ihren Ganz gewendet”; BWV 297(PC), BWV 447(SG)*
--- “Der Tag mit seinem Lichte”; BWV 448(SG), BWV deest (Wiemer 5, PC)*
--- “Die Nacht is kommen” (NLGB 207); BWV 296(PC), BWV 447(SG)*
--- “Meinen Augen schließ ich jetzt” (NLGB 210); BWV 378(PC)*
--- “Nun sich der Tag geendet hat”; BWV 396(PC)*
--- “Was frag ich nach der Welt” (mel. “O Gott du, frommer Gott); CC BWV 64/4 BWV 399(PC), BWV 767(MC), BWV 1125(PC) (also various).


1 Robin A. Leaver, Part IV, Chapter 15, “Sequences and Responses,” Luther’s Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmanns Publishing, 2007, 231).
2 Jaroslav Pelikan, Chapter 9, "Aesthetics and Evangelical Catholicity in the B Minor Mass," in Bach Among the Theologians (Philadelphia PA: Fortress Press, 1986: 118f). The Lutheran choirboy, Bach for all Seasons (Minneapolis: Augsburg/Fortress, 1999) prints the chorale harmonizations with both English and German texts.
3 Sources of the text and usage of the Mass Ordinary are: Paul Westermeyer's The First Centuries, Te Deum: The Church and Music (Augsburg Fortress, 1998), Bard Thompson's Liturgies of the Western Church (Fortress, 1961), Gordon Lathrop’s Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology (Fortress: 1993); and George Stauffer’s Bach’s “The Mass in B Minor”: The Great Catholic Mass (Yale University Press, 2003).
4 See Ulrich S. Leupold, “The German Mass and Order of Service: Martin Luther’s Preface, in Luther’s Works, Vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns, trans. George MacDonald (Philadelphia PA: Fortress Press, 1967: 72).
5 The Harvard Dictionary of Music, Google Books.
6 Mark S. Bighley, The Lutheran Chorales in the Organ Works of J. S. Bach (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1986: 72f).
7 Leaver, “Bach and the German Agnus Dei,” A Bach Tribute: Essays in Honor of William H. Scheide (Kassel/Chapel Hill NC: Bärenreiter/Hinshaw, 1993: 163-171).
8 Charles S. Terry, Bach’s Chorals. Part I: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 2. February 21, 2016.
9 Peter Williams, The Organ Music of J. S. Bach, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2003: 273f).
10 Anne Leahy, J. S. Bach’s “Leipzig” Chorale Preludes: Music Text, Theology, Contextual Bach Studies No. 3, ed. Robin A. Leaver (Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011: 190ff). Includes further information on the chorale sources and use as a “Leipzig Great 18” chorale.
11 Elsie Flitzer liner notes (trans. Alison Dobson-Ottmers),
12 Source BGA XI.1 (Latin music, Wilhelm Rust 1862: 69ff) and NBA, III/2.2: 138f., Frieder Rempp, 1996; KB Critical report 1996: 15ff, 264.
13 Source: Edition Bachakademie Vol. 81, A Book of Chorale-Settings for German Mass: Chorale from BWV 245/5 (= BWV 416); Chorales: BWV 260, 298, 322, 325, 328, 332, 363, 371/1-3, 373, 401, 416, 437; Helmuth Rilling, Hänssler 1998.
14 Günther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, ed. Robin A. Leaver (St. Louis MO: Concordia Publishing, 1985: 117f).

William Hoffman wrote (July 21, 2017):
Dona nobis pacem

The Luther/Walther poetic setting of the German Dona nobis Pacem, “Verleih uns Frieden, gnädiglich” (Graciously grant us peace), from the Latin antiphon “Da pacem Domine” (Give peace, Lord) is an example of “Liturgical Pedagogy in Luther’s Musical Reforms,” says Robin A. Leaver. About 1529 as the Turks again threatened Vienna, Luther took the Ambrosian Advent melody, Veni redemptor genitum (Come, redeemer of the nations) and shaped it into a contour for his new text. Previously, about 1523, Luther had shaped the melody to create “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (Now come the heathens’ Savior), altering the original fourth line to be a repeat of the first, ABCA. Thus, the reformers “change the character of the melody completely and make a Lutheran chorale out of a medieval hymn,” says Ulrich Leupold. 2

Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich,
Herr Gott, zu unsern Zeiten;
Es ist doch ja kein andrer nicht,
Der für uns könnte streiten,
Denn du, unsr Gott, alleine.

Graciously grant us peace
Lord God, in our time;
there is no one else
who could fight for us
except you ,our God, alone.

Also about 1730, Luther again would reshape the melody as “Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort” (Lead us Lord, by thy word). Finally, in 1566, Luther associate Walther adapted “Erhalt uns, Herr” for the hymn “Gib unsern Fürsten und all’r Obrigkeit” (Grant to our princes and those in authority), paraphrasing 1 Timothy 2:2 (kjv), “ For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” This became second verse of Luther’s hymn because “its content enshrines Luther’s view of the Christian responsibility of rulers and governments,” says Leaver (Ibid.: 204). It also was attached to end “Erhalt uns, Herr.”

Gib unsern Fürsten und all'r Obrigkeit
Fried und gut Regiment,
Dass wir unter ihnen
Ein geruhig und stilles Leben führen mögen
In aller Gottseligkeit und Ehrbarkeit. Amen

Grant to our princes and those in authority
peace and good government
so that we under them
may lead a calm and peaceful life
in all godliness and respectability. Amen

Luther’s one-verse setting was published in the Kirchē gesenge, mit vil schönen Psalmen unnd Melodey, edited by Johann Walter (Nürnberg, 1531), and Geistliche Lieder by Joseph Klug (Wittenberg, 1535). The melody of the additional stanza (Gieb unsern Fürsten) was first published in Das christlich Kinderlied D. Martini Lutheri in Wittenberg, 1566. Melody information is found at BCW

Near the end of the16th century, Bach Leipzig predecessor Johann Schelle put the two peace stanzas together in his chorale cantata, “Nun danket alle Gott,” and Dietrich Buxtedhude added both to his chorale cantata, “Erhalt uns, Herr.” In 1725, Bach set the two-verse hymn three times: Sexagesima Sunday Cantata 126/7, “Erhalt uns, Herr” (; Quasimodogeniti Sunday Cantata 42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats” (On the evening of the same sabbath, John 20:19;; music,, and lost Cantata BWV 4a, “Wünschet Jerusalem Glück,” for the Town Council Installation in August.

Bach also set the related hymn paraphrase of Psalm 67: “Gott, sei uns gnädig und barmherzig” (May God be merciful and compassionate for us), as a plain chorale, BWV 323, appropriate for a service closing benediction. The pre-reformation melody is “Meine seele erhebet den Herrn” (German Magnificat) and the poet is anonymous (1532), possibly Luther. The hymn closes with the Lesser Doxology, “Glory and praise to God the Father” (German text and Francis Browne English translation,; melody, The Psalm 67 paraphrase hymn is found in Das new Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682 as No. 319, Word of God and Christian Church. Other composers’ related settings see


1 Robin A. Leaver, Part IV, Chapter 15, “Sequences and Responses,” Luther’s Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmanns Publishing, 2007, 231).
2 Ulrich S. Leupold, Luther’s Works, Vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns, trans. George MacDonald (Philadelphia PA: Fortress Press, 1967: 235).


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