Music for the 24th Sunday After Pentecost — November 12, 2023

Prelude & Fugue in E flat (BWV 552) – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Click to view video

Built upon Christian numerology, the third book of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Clavierübung may have aspired to be more a Mass for organ than a collection of related smaller pieces. It opens and closes with what has since been commonly catalogued as the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major, BWV 552. I played the prelude this past September 24; the fugue is this Sunday’s organ postlude in church.

The three-part Prelude follows the triple symbolism of the Holy Trinity, with the Father as a dotted rhythm; Son as a lighter, simpler idea; and Holy Ghost as the all-encompassing 16th-note melody. The five-voice triple Fugue is popularly referred to as “St. Anne,” because its subject sounds similar to the English hymn tune with that name, the tune of this Sunday’s entrance hymn, O God our help in ages past.

Gerald Harder