Johann Sebastian Bach – Vater unser in Himnelreich

“Vater unser im Himmelreich” (Our Father in Heaven) is a Lutheran hymn in German by Martin Luther. He wrote the paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer in 1538, corresponding to his explanation of the prayer in his Kleiner Katechismus (Small Catechism). He dedicated one stanza to each of the seven petitions and framed it with an opening and a closing stanza, each stanza in six lines. Luther revised the text several times, as extant manuscript show, concerned to clarify and improve it. He chose and possibly adapted an older anonymous melody, which was possibly associated with secular text, after he had first selected a different one. Other hymn versions of the Lord’s Prayer from the 16th and 20th-century have adopted the same tune, known as “Vater unser” and “Old 112th”.
The hymn was published in Leipzig in 1539 in Valentin Schumann’s hymnal Gesangbuch, with a title explaining “The Lord’s Prayer briefly expounded and turned into metre”. It was likely first published as a broadsheet.
The hymn was translated into English in several versions, for example “Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above” by Catherine Winkworth in 1863 and “Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth” by Henry J. de Jong in 1982. In the current German hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch (EG) it is number 344.


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