Johann Sebastian Bach was a prolific German composer
and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir,
orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the
strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its
ultimate maturity. Although he introduced no new forms,
he enriched the prevailing German style with a robust
contrapuntal technique, a control of harmonic and
motivic organization from the smallest to the largest
scales, and the adaptation of rhythms and textures from
abroad, particularly Italy and France.
While Bach's fame as an organist was great during his
lifetime, he was not particularly well-known as a
composer. His adherence to Baroque forms and
contrapuntal style was considered "old-fashioned" by
his contemporaries, especially late in his career when
the musical fashion tended towards Rococo and later
Classical styles. A revival of interest and
performances of his music began early in the 19th
century, and he is now widely considered to be one of
the greatest composers in the Western tradition.
Many of Chorales occur in Bach´s Cantatas and Oratorios
(Passionen). It is widely believed that Bach did not
actually compose the melodies, which were traditional
tunes, but rather adapted them from old popular songs.
He set hundreds of these traditional melodies for four
voices. But, in all of these chorales, the flow of the
voices is so beautiful that they have been studied as
the perfect model of voice-leading and harmony by
composers and music students since they were composed.
In our organ collection, Bach´s chorales are typically
notated in two staves for better legibility.
"Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam" (BWV 280: "Christ
our Lord, went to Jordan") is a choral work by Bach
that recants the travel of Jesus Christ to Jordan where
he was baptized at the hands of St. John. The baptism
of Jesus marks the beginning of his public ministry.
This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of
Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33.
Although written in German, the English text reads as
Christ our Lord, went to Jordan
according to the will of His Father,
baptized at the hands of St. John,
it was his work and mission;
wanted to give us the gift of a bath,
to wash the sin
and also dispel the bitter death
through His own blood and wounds.
We receive the gift of new life.
Although originally written for Chorus (SATB), I
created this arrangement for solo Concert (Pedal) Harp.