Saturday, September 07, 2013

Pioneer Swedish-American reminiscences / Käre Jesus, vi är här / Hit, o Jesu, samloms vi

When I first posted this in September I didn't make the distinction between two similar chorales, and wasn't able to get them straightened out in my mind till May 2014. See my post May 30, 2014, at:

The two chorales are:

Both hymns, the first words of which are practically identical, most commonly use Ahle's tune LIEBSTER JESU. But Clausnitzer's gathering hymn was also set to a minor-key variant by Carl Wolfgang Briegel (1687) and got into the 1819 psalmbook with that tune.

I am not going to try to rewrite this post -- the information I got from the sources I consulted at the time was correct as far as it went, and the post stands as written -- but it is not the complete story. I am repeating this disclaimer here in order to (hopefully) minimize confusion.


C.J. Snodgren, "A Brief History of the Augustana Synod." The Augustana Synod : a brief review of its history, 1860-1910 (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1910). 25-27. Internet Archive. 2007.

... Of another congregation its minister wrote : "After a few months they began to pay attention to the sermon." Of another it is related : "The people were beside themselves with joy (i. e. over the visit of a minister). Services were announced for the following day (a Saturday) in the school-house, and all who could crawl or walk assembled. Many of them had lived there five and six years and during all that time had never heard a sermon. When they began the service by singing psalm 328 : 'Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word we are gathered all to hear Thee' (Hit, o Jcsu, samloms vi att ditt helga ord fa bora) [26] the singing was smothered by sobs and only after some minutes were they able to continue. -- -- ... [27] We have room for only two more samples : In a certain other congregation the service was carried out by one of the members. When they were through and on the way home, he called out: "Hold on, boys; I forgot to read the benedic- tion," to which they shouted back : "Save it till next time !" But in yet another a few settlers gathered in a private house to celebrate Christmas. They had procured a tree, and candles were placed in the windows. No minister was present, but a leader read the Christ- mas story in Luke 2, spoke a few heartfelt words and led in earnest prayer; and the simple service made such a profound impression on those present that all embraced each other and wept like little children. the memories and emotions that must have swept over that little gathering of pilgrims in a strange land! [Parentheses in the original.]

The melody is apparently a variant of the LIEBSTER JESU, WER SIND HIER by Johann Rudolf Ahle that's in LBW (No. 248) and other contemporary Lutheran hymnals [although, as so often happens, I can't quite hear the resemblance and don't want to push it too far]. The Augustana hymnal (1925) has Tobias Clausnitzer's words with a melody LIEBSTER JESU (No. 302) in D minor it attributes to Carl Wolfgang Briegel (1687). Same melody, in Em, in my copy of Johan Henrik Thomander Svenska Psalm-Boken Af År 1819 (No. 328).

Andreas Holmberg's blog Nätkoralboken at has Psalm 328 in C minor and MIDI file under the heading Käre Jesus, vi är här (alt. koral) [dear Jesus, we are here (alt. chorale)] in a new translation that seems closer to the German:

Text: Tobias Clausnitzer 1663 (45 år) "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier", övers. Petrus Lagerlöf 1694 (46 år) "Hit, o Jesu, samloms vi", bearb./nyövers. Olle Nivenius 1984
Musik: Johann Rudolph Ahle 1664 (39 år)
Lyssna till J. S. Bachs version av koralen (BWV 633)
alt. koral Johann Crüger 1653 enligt 1939 års koralbok (i bearb. av J C F Haeffner) has this on the text:

Essentially a prayer asking for illumination by the Holy Spirit as the Christian community gathers around the Lord's Word, "Blessed Jesus" is a pre-sermon hymn by Tobias Clausnitzer (b. Thum, Saxony, Germany, 1619; d. Weiden, Upper Palatine, Germany, 1684). It was first published in the Altdorffisches Gesang-Buchlein (1663) and first attributed to Clausnitzer in the Nüremberg, Germany, Gesangbuch (1676). Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194) translated the text and published it in English in her Lyra Germanica (2nd series, 1858).

Clausnitzer graduated from the University of Leipzig and became a chaplain in the Swedish army. He preached two sermons at memorable occasions: when Queen Christina ascended the Swedish throne in 1645 and when the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, was celebrated in 1648. Clausnitzer became a pastor in Weiden in 1648, where he remained until his death. In addition to "Blessed Jesus, at Your Word," his creedal hymn, “We Believe in One True God,” is found in many modern hymnals.

And this on the tune ...
LlEBSTER JESU is a rather serene German chorale that is ideally sung in three long lines and in parts with light organ accompaniment. In rounded bar form (AABA') LIEBSTER JESU (also called DESSAU and NURENBERG) was originally one of Johann R. Able's “sacred arias,” first published with Franz J. Burmeister's Advent hymn text “Ja, er ist's, das Heil der Welt" in the Mühlhausen, Germany, Neue geistliche auf die Sonntage . . . Andachten (1664). The tune was later modified and published in the Darmstadt, Germany, Das grosse Cantional (1687) as a setting for a baptism hymn by Benjamin Schmolck that had the same first line as Clausnitzer's text: "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier." Because several sources say that LIEBSTER JESU was first associated with Clausnitzer's hymn in the 1671 Altdoifer Gesangbuch, it seems probable that the tune name derives from that hymn text.

Notes by Jeffrey Sly on Bach prelude Leibster Jesu, 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 21 July 2013, Music @ St. Mary's Episcopal, Phoenix.

Opening Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (BWV 731) – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Today’s opening voluntary is a chorale prelude on the hymn tune, Liebster Jesu, sung today as our offertory hymn, “Blessed Jesus, at thy word” (#440, Hymnal 1982). The original version of the tune was a composition of Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625-1673) and first appeared in 1664 paired with the text of an advent hymn. Ahle was born in Mülhausen, Thuringia and studied theology at the University of Erfurt from 1645-1649. He became the cantor of The Church of St. Andrew in Erfurt in 1646 and was later appointed organist of the Church of St. Blasius in Mülhausen in 1654. Ahle’s original tune, a somewhat florid and soloistic work, was later altered to a form more appropriate for congregational singing and was paired with the present text of Tobias Clausnitzer (1619-1684), Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier. It was republished in that revised form in 1687 with Clausnitzer’s previously-published text of 1663. It entered into English hymnody in the 19th century through the translations of Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) and was first published in her work, Lyra Germanica of 1861. It was later included in The Chorale Book for England in 1863 along with its associated melody.

Wikipedia in Germany "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, dich und dein Wort anzuhören im Evangelischen Gesangbuch (EG) Nr. 161 (Melodie: Johann Rudolph Ahle, 1664, erschienen bei Wolfgang Carl Briegel, 1687)."

Swedish Wikipedia,_vi_%C3%A4r_h%C3%A4r says: "Enligt 1697 års koralbok användes inte den dåvarande melodin till någon annan psalm, men borde vara Ahles tonsättning med tanke på årtalet för kompositionen." [Babylon: According to 1697 year koralbok was not the former melody to any other psalm, but should be Ahles music' with a view to the year for the composition.]

Google translation ofäre_Jesus,_vi_är_här : "Dear Jesus, we are here is a hymn in three verses, with lyrics by Tobias Claus Nitzer from 1663 (Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier). In the year 1695 hymnal of Peter Lagerlof 1694 under the title "Hit, O Jesus, samloms we", a title which was unchanged in both the 1819 Act and the 1937 hymnals. For the 1986 hymnal was processed and partially nyöversattes hymn by Olle Nivenius 1984."

A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1900) edited by George Grove.,_Wolfgang

Briegel, Wolfgang by Carl Ferdinand Pohl

BRIEGEL, Wolfgang Karl, church composer, born 1626, originally organist at Stettin, and afterwards (see the title-page of his then published works) Music-Director to Prince Friedenstein in Gotha, and in 1660 Kapellmeister to the Duke of Saxe Gotha. In 1670 he was called to Darmstadt as Kapellmeister to the Landgrave of Darmstadt, where he remained till his death in 1710. Among the remains of Emanuel Bach was a portrait of Briegel, engraved by Nessenthaler; it represents a man of about sixty-five, of healthy and jovial aspect, and with no trace of the labour involved in so many serious compositions. Schneider (das Musik. Lied, iii. 155) says, that 'perceiving the fashion of solo songs like those of Ad. Krieger and the two Ahles to be on the wane, he returned to the composition of songs for several voices; he wrote, in fact, incessantly in all sorts of styles with much fluency but no originality, and with no adequate return for his labours.' His principal compositions consisted of sacred songs for several voices, mostly to his own words. One of his works alone, for 3 and 4 instruments (Erfurt, 1652), contains 10 Paduaner, 10 Gagliarden, 10 Ballette, and 10 Couranten. His one secular work, 'Musikalisches Tafel-Confect' (Frankfort, 1672), consists, according to its quaint title, of 'pleasant Conversations and Concertos.' His Hymn-book for Darmstadt appeared in 1687. His published works, twenty-five in number, begin with 'Geistliche Arien und Concerte' (Erfurt, 1672), and end with 'Letzter Schwanen-Gesang,' consisting of twenty Trauergesänge for four or five voices (Giessen, 1709).

Bach Cantatas website, in entry "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works Es ist genung, so nimm, Herr, meinen Geist," [] ment. "Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (1664) (EGK 127, 151) with slight modifications by Wolfgang Karl Briegel (1687) and texts either by Tobias Clausnizer (1618-1684) or Benjamin Schmolck (1672-1737). Settings by Bach: BWV 373, BWV 633, BWV 634, BWV 706, BWV 730 and BWV 731."

The Organ Music of J.S. Bach: Works based on chorales (BWV 599-771 etc.) By Peter F. Williams Google eBooks lists: Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word. Chorale motet for full chorus of mixed voices a cappella. [Words by] Tobias Clausnitzer, English version by Catherine Winkworth. ... [or rather, Wolfgang Carl] Briegel, 1687 Unknown Binding – Import, January 1, 1938 by Wolfgang Carl Briegel (Author) Be the first to review this item

Bach’s Chorals. Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 3.

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