The Neumeister Collection is a compilation of 82
chorale preludes found in a manuscript copy produced by
Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1757–1840). When the
manuscript was rediscovered at the Yale University in
the 1980s it appeared to contain 31 previously unknown
early chorale settings by Johann Sebastian Bach, which
were added to the BWV catalogue as Nos. 1090–1120 and
published in 1985.
This is another of the Bach chorale preludes unearthed
in 1985 by Christoph Wolff, who discovered the
Neumeister Collection at the Yale Library. Most of the
Neumeister Bach works are believed to date to the years
1700 - 1708, and this one, "Ehre sei dir, Christe, der
du leidest Not" (May You Be Praised, Christ, for You
Suffer Pain), was probably written in the earliest
years of that span. It exhibits the influence of both
Pachelbel and Buxtehude and is somewhat unusual in its
consistent use of what German writers call
Vorimitation: thematic material is anticipated
throughout the work in an imitative, fugue-like manner.
For all its seemingly rigid formal qualities, this work
presents the chorale theme in a majestic and
imaginative way, growing from modest textures at the
outset to grander and more colorful ones later on. As
the work progresses, its mood takes on a more ecstatic
manner, the music a fuller and more complex character.
In the end, this approximately two-minute chorale
prelude will likely strike Baroque enthusiasts as a
compelling even if still youthful work from the pen of
the young Bach.
TThere are 38 works in the Neumeister Collection that
are generally attributed to Bach. This collection of 82
items by several composers, including other Bach family
members, was rediscovered only in 1985 by
musicologist/organist Christoph Wolff. Some
musicologists have doubted the authenticity of a few of
the works in it that have been attributed to Bach, but
there is little doubt that this chorale prelude,
"Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort" (Lord, keep us
steadfast in Thy Word), was written by him. Another
chorale prelude by the same title, however, BWV Anh.
50, is of doubtful provenance. BWV 1103 is an
attractive fughetta whose expressive manner is
relatively simple. On its first appearance, the chorale
theme is played almost completely through in single
notes in the middle register, with no accompaniment.
Thereafter, Bach treats it fugally, the accompanying
material often coming from a much lower range on the
keyboard. There is scarcely much development and the
contrapuntal writing, while well crafted, does not
exhibit the innovative character Bach would routinely
divulge in so many later compositions.
Although originally written for Organ, I created this
Arrangement of the Chorale Prelude "Erhalt uns, Herr,
bei deinem Wort" (Preserve us, Lord, with your word)
BWV 1103 for Viola Quartet.