Christe, du Lamm Gottes (BWV 619)
Christe, du Lamm Gottes is based on the German version of the text of the Agnus Dei, from the mass ordinary. The chorale consists of four phrases of music; Bach uses the first three of these in the Orgelbuchlein setting.
The chorale setting is written in five voices, divided between two manuals and pedal: each manual takes two voices and the pedal takes the lowest voice. The chorale melody appears in a canon in two voices, at the interval of a twelfth (an octave plus a perfect fifth). The first voice of the canon, also called the head or dux, is in the left hand, played in long notes, beginning with the whole note F in measure 4. The second voice of the canon, also called the answer or comes, begins in measure 5 with the whole note C.
The other three voices in the texture are composed mostly of scalar passages, ascending and descending, and written mostly in quarter notes. These voices are also in a quasi-canon, meaning that they imitate one another in some places, but not in all places. (Notice, for example, that the right hand in measures 1-2 is identical to the left hand in mm. 2-3, and to the pedal in mm. 3-4. Another instance of quasi-canonic writing is in the quarter-note passages in mm. 8, 9, 10, and 11 [beginning on the second beat.])
Registration and Organs
The chorale setting is written in five voices, divided between two manuals and pedal: each manual/hand takes two voices and the pedal takes the lowest voice. The two manual sounds should be equal in volume as both are equally important to the texture. They might be of similar colors (for example, using principal stops on both manuals), or of contrasting colors (for example, using a reed one one manual and a principal chorus on the other).
Difficulty level: 1 See the footnote in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the page 
Fingering and Pedaling
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Articulation and Phrasing
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Decide how to treat the repeated notes in the cantus firmus.
Strive for simultaneous attacks, especially in passages where two parts are in parallel motion (e.g., the quarter notes in mm. 2-5). Ensure that the attack and articulation are the same in both parts.
Articulation and Phrasing
Pay attention to the phrase breaks in the cantus firmus. Consider breaking at the end of each phrase of the cantus firmus to clarify the phrases of the cantus firmus. This will also help to elucidate the canon. (Make sure that the phrase breaks occur at different times, since the voices are in canon.)
Maintain a consistent articulation between both hands and pedal. This is especially important since all three parts share the same phrases and motives.
Tempo and Meter
Strive for consistency of tempo, especially that the descending scalar passages do not rush.
Scores and Editions
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Pay to Listen
William Porter at the 1723 Hildebrandt at Störmthal., including 10 other pieces from Das Orgelbuchlein.
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- This footnote was entered in the "Registration and Organs" article.
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