Nun laßt uns gehn und treten
Tunes and Settings
nun lasst uns gott, dem herren
The tune most commonly associated with this text has a long and interesting history. The melody originates from Nicolaus Selnecker’s Christliche Psalmen, Lieder, und Kirchengesänge (1587) in which he set music to Ludwig Helmbold’s “Nun laßt uns Gott dem Herren.” Selnecker’s melody, however, is a variation of the descant melody of the hymn found in Helmbod’s Geistliche Lieder, den Gottseligen Christen zugericht (1575).
In 1649, Johann Crüger introduced some modifications to Selnecker’s melody in his Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien (Zahn 159). The tune was tied to Gerhardt’s “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe,” and as a result, the tune can be sometimes quoted as wach auf, mein herz, und singe, or awake. The tune name, nun lasst uns gott, dem herren, is far more common, especially in Germany. In some rare instances, the tune is called selnecker.
The melody occurs in Bach’s cantatas 79, 165, and 194. The closing chorale in bwv 194 is the only time this tune is associated with a Gerhardt hymn — in this case, stanzas 9 and 10 of “Wach auf, mein Herz, und singe.”
The tune has been universally accepted with “Nun laßt uns gehn und treten” since Crüger’s setting in 1649 and is still in wide use today throughout Germany.
1. Nicolaus Selnecker (1587)
2. Johann Crüger (1649)
3. Johann Crüger (1657/58)
4. Johann Sebastian Bach (1715)
5. Johann Sebastian Bach (1723)
6. Johann Sebastian Bach (1725)
7. Ian Matthew Welch (2016)
Two musical settings based on Crüger’s work
Sheet Music | Audio 1 | Audio 2 |
Johann Ebeling, in his Pauli Gerhardi Geistliche Andachten, composed an original four-part musical setting for Gerhardt’s “Nun laßt uns gehn und treten.” The new tune ended up being used very little by churches, possibly due to the growing acceptance of nun lasst uns gott, dem herren made popular by Crüger. Even Ebeling himself offered the option to sing the text with this tune in his book.