World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000099485
Reproduction Date:

Title: Chorale  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Christian music, Baroque music, Hymnology, Breathing (Jason Derulo song), Hymn
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The third stanza in Johann Sebastian Bach's setting as the final movement of his chorale cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140

A chorale is a melody to which a hymn is sung by a congregation in a German Protestant Church service. The typical four-part setting of a chorale, in which the sopranos (and the congregation) sing the melody along with three lower voices, is known as a chorale harmonization.


Starting in 1523, Martin Luther began translating worship texts into German from the Latin (Marshall and Leaver 2001). This created an immediate need for a large repertoire of new chorales. He composed some chorales himself, such as A Mighty Fortress. For other chorales he adapted Gregorian chant melodies used in Roman Catholic worship to fit new German texts, sometimes using the same melody more than once. For example, he fitted the melody of the hymn "Veni redemptor gentium" to three different texts, "Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich", "Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort", and "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" (Marshall and Leaver 2001). As early as 1524, Johann Walter published Eyn geystlich Gesangk Buchleyn, the first hymnal for choir, in Wittenberg.

Johann Sebastian Bach harmonised hundreds of chorales, typically used at the end of his cantatas and concluding scenes in his Passions. In his St Matthew Passion, he set five stanzas of "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" in four different ways. He also used hymns as the base for his cycle of chorale cantatas and chorale preludes. Bach concentrated on the chorales especially in the Chorale cantatas of his second annual cycle, composed mostly in 1724/25.

Today, many of the Lutheran chorales are familiar as hymns used in Protestant churches, sometimes sung in four-voice harmony.

Derived forms

The autograph of Bach's chorale prelude on the hymn "

Chorales also appear in Nicolai's hymn, among many others.

Anton Bruckner make frequent use of the chorale as a compositional device in Two Aequali (Harten 1996, 44–45), based on his understanding of musical settings of the liturgy and Johann Sebastian Bach's chorale preludes. He used chorales in his symphonies, masses and motets, for example Dir, Herr, dir will ich mich ergeben (van Zwol 2012, 701) and In jener letzten der Nächte (van Zwol 2012, 703), often in contrast to and combination with the fugue, as in Psalm 22 and in the Finale of Symphony No. 5 (Carragan n.d.).

See also


  • Carragan, William. n.d. "Bruckner's Symphony No. 5: Timing Analysis".
  • Marshall, Robert L., and Robin A. Leaver. 2001. "Chorale". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Harten, Uwe. 1996. Anton Bruckner. Ein Handbuch. Salburg: Residenz Verlag. ISBN 3-7017-1030-9.
  • van Zwol, Cornelis. 2012. Anton Bruckner 1824–1896: Leven en werken. Bussum: THOTH. ISBN 978-90-6868-590-9.

Further reading

  • Anon. 1980. "Chorale". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. ISBN 1-56159-174-2.
  • Randel, Don Michael (ed.). 1986. The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, third edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-61525-5.
  • Randel, Don Michael (ed.). 2003. The Harvard Dictionary of Music, fourth edition. Cambridge: Belknap Press, for Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-011632.

External links

  • Chorale discussion by Bernard Greenberg in the J. S. Bach FAQ (archived copy)
  • Complete sets of all four-part Bach chorale settings in MIDI or QuickTime format
  • American Choral Music, 1870-1923, LoC
  • ChoraleGUIDE - help with Bach chorale harmonization
  • The Chorales of Bach's St. Matthew Passion
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.