Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
Des sich wunder alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.
Come now, Saviour of the heathen,
He who is known as the Child of the Virgin!
All the world wonders that
God should ordain such a birth.
The slow unfolding of the highly expressive cantus firmus is accompanied by beautiful counterpoint, frequently using two-note sighing figures. It is included in the ‘Leipzig Chorales’ (or the ‘Eighteen’ as it is more generally known) – a collection of chorales which Bach put together in his last years, most of which probably existed in earlier versions dating from his Weimar period. There are three chorale preludes with this title in the same collection – all very different from each other. Kempff’s transcription beautifully retains the sense of longing and mystery of the original.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2001