Guitar Setting: Wachet Auf, P. Nicolai, from Bach’s Setting

This is a transcription of J.S. Bach’s setting for P. Nicolai’s Wachet Auf.

This particular setting is used for Hymn 544 in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary “Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying.”

A slightly less complex transcription of Wachet Auf is used for ELH 518 “Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ You.”

Lilypond file
Tuxguitar file
Midi file.

About Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Faith Ev. Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota (E.L.S.). He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) from 2001 to April 2015.


Guitar Setting: Wachet Auf, P. Nicolai, from Bach’s Setting — 8 Comments

  1. Where is the drum score, the organ music; how many Marshall stacks does it take to fill the Church if I use my Strat? Just kidding, looks cool. As long as a guitar is not in the Divine Service setting. Or is it OK?

    OK, how would you use this? (For real question).

  2. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #1
    Pr. Prentice,
    I have no problem with the use of guitar or many different kinds of instruments in the service. My qualification is that it is the Divine Service and not a concert or music show. So the forms of music and the way the instrumentation is used should not distract from the Divine Service but rather help to bring out the texts of the hymns for the edification of those present at the service.

    I can think of several hymns that can be accompanied by trumpet, reeds, strings, and percussion in a way that helps to focus on the teaching content of the hymns. As an example of a great use of percussion Higher Things used LSB 941, We Praise You and Acknowledge You set to Gustav Holst’s Thaxted.

    What shines out so well in this example is that even though there was very elaborate instrumentation and might have wrongly come off as a mere concert, the instrumentation was not the focus. The arrangement was carefully made and worked very well in conveying the content of the verses in the hymn.

    As to how I would use this, I very often accompany the hymn singing with guitar out of our hymnal. I have four small very rural congregations. Pianists can be hard to find, Organists almost impossible. We are blessed to have six individuals who can play regularly so that most of our services have organ/piano. Playing guitar takes a little extra time for me to transition between one part of the service to the next, so it is not ideal. But there are times when none of the keyboardists can be at church. So the guitar is very useful that way. Though, if we had someone to play guitar regularly I would like to incorporate that as well. But it would be the music from the hymnal as arranged in the hymnal for the Divine Service.

  3. I like your thoughts on music in worship! I have always refrained from telling my choir (when I was the director) that they would “perform” on Sunday. In my mind, performing is about the performer. It may be a question of semantics, but I wanted their thoughts to be on the message, not the “performance”.

    As an organist, I ask if the music I’ve selected – whether preservice, offeratory, etc – fits the theme of the day, do my hymn intonations lead into the hymn or detract from it. There are “stranger” pieces I use, to be sure, but selectively. Also, when I occasionally sing (I spent years in the study of voice and taught many HS students) I select something in which the text is not hidden by the music. Nothing wrong with simple but good.

    I’ll admit, I did not always have opinion. But God gave me the talents, they are mine only through Him. Sharing them with the congregation is something I take pride in, yes, but also something I know should always point to my Father, and His Son who saved me.

  4. Luther was well known for playing the lute. His hymns were composed on the lute.

    Do I remember correctly that there is a guitar accompaniment published for LSB?

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