Tag Archives: Anton Wilhelm Leupold

10th Sunday after Pentecost – 28 Jul 13



Georg Neumark

Opening Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on Wer nur den lieben Gott – Anton Wilhelm Leupold (1868-1940)

Both the text and the tune of our final hymn (#635, Hymnal 1982), Wer nur den lieben Gott, were written and composed by the same individual, Georg Neumark (1621-1681). Created during the period in Europe of The Thirty Years War, it comes from a time, not unlike our own, when social and economic upheavals had produced deplorable conditions in many places. Neumark was traveling from Magdeburg to Konigsberg to study at the university there in 1641 when he was attacked and robbed of nearly all his possessions except his prayerbook and a small amount of money sewn into his clothing.  He spent much of the next two years looking unsuccessfully for employment until he found a position as a tutor in Kiel where he was eventually able to save enough money to attend university. He studied in Konigsberg for 5 years before once again losing all that he had in a fire.  It was just after finding work as a tutor in Kiel that he composed this hymn. Neumark later wrote, “This good fortune, which came so suddenly and, as it were, from heaven, so rejoiced my heart that I wrote my hymn, Wer nur den lieben Gott, to the glory of my God on that first day.” He gave this hymn a special subtitle reading, “a hymn of consolation, that God will preserve his own in his own time; after the saying, ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee.’ Psalm 55:24” In spite of a life filled with many tragedies, Neumark went on to write many more hymns expressing his absolute trust in God.

Wer nur den lieben Gott became especially popular through the Baroque era, and J. S. Bach (1685-1750) included it in no fewer than eight cantatas and also wrote several chorale preludes based on it. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) published an initial English translation of the hymn in her Lyra Germanica in 1855.  This first attempt, however, was in a different meter than the original and was, thus, unsingable with Neumark’s melody.  She later radically revised her work in a new translation and published it a second time in The Chorale Book for England (1863) where it was reunited with Neumark’s original tune. This version has had extensive use, especially in American Lutheranism, from the last quarter of the 19th century. The Hymnal 1982 employs, slightly revised, the first and last stanzas of the original, seven-stanza hymn.

The chorale prelude played today as our opening voluntary is the work of Anton Wilhelm Leupold (1868-1940). A native of Austria, Leupold became the organist of St. Peter’s Church, Berlin in 1899, a position he would hold for the next forty years.  Although he composed many types of church music, the bulk of his works were in the genre of the chorale prelude, of which he left some 200 examples.

1st Sunday in Advent – 2 Dec 12


Philipp Nicolai

Opening Voluntary: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

 At Communion: Wake, Awake – Albert H.  Beck (1894-1962)

 Closing Voluntary: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme – A. W. Leupold (1868-1940)

Today’s incidental organ music is all based on the great German hymn, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, which we sing in English translation as our entrance hymn today (“Sleepers wake! A voice astounds us,” # 62, The Hymnal 1982). This classic hymn, sometimes known as “King of Chorales,” was both written and composed by 16th century Lutheran pastor, Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608). The hymn was written during the time of a deadly epidemic that raged in his town of Unna, Westphalia from July of 1597 to January of 1598.  Claiming some 1300 victims in total, the pestilence resulted in as many as 30 burials per day, most of which Nicolai could observe from his home that overlooked the churchyard. In such dark times, it was not surprising that Nicolai’s thoughts turned to death and the contemplation of the “last things.”  Nicolai reported that he was, at this time, most concerned with “the contemplation of the noble, sublime, doctrine of Eternal Life, obtained through the Blood of Christ. This I allowed to dwell in my heart day and night, and searched the Scriptures for what they revealed on this matter.” It is hardly surprising that the full German original is, thus, filled with scriptural illusions (from Isaiah, Ezekiel, The Revelation to John, 1st Corinthians and the Gospel of Matthew). It is most obviously related to the parable of the wise virgins from the Gospel of Matthew as evidenced by Nicolai’s subtitle “Of the Voice at Midnight, and the Wise Virgins who meet their Heavenly Bridegroom.” The text and tune were first published in an appendix to his meditations in the year 1599.  It first appeared in English in the Lyra Davidica of 1708, a hymnal published in London of translations from German and Latin.  It was made popular to English listeners as part of Felix Mendelssohn’s (1809-1847) “St. Paul” oratorio which premiered in English translation in Liverpool in the year 1836.  Although most often sung to the translation by the famous Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), the editors of The Hymnal 1982, commissioned a new translation by Carl Daw that they felt conveyed more of the vigor of the German original.

The Opening Voluntary is the famous “Schübler” chorale version (BWV 645), Bach’s own transcription of his setting from his Cantata 140, composed originally for the 27th Sunday after Trinity. The name “Schübler” is that of the engraver and publisher of the original 1748 collection. The short version at the communion was published in 1945 and is the original work of 20th century Lutheran musician, Albert H. Beck (1894-1962), a professor at Concordia College in River Forest, IL from 1923 until his retirement.  The closing voluntary is by German organist and composer Anton Wilhelm Leupold, organist at St. Peter’s, Berlin for 40 years until his death in 1940.


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