Basket empty
Website Orders are now up and
running and please see 'Latest News'
below for update on Phone Orders

Bach Motet No 1 (Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied) Vocal Score

J.S. Bach
"Singet dem Herrn" is one of the six motets written by JS Bach for unaccompanied choir. Opinions differ as to the reasons and circumstances of its composition (about which more below), but its outstanding musical craftsmanship is not in dispute. 

If you wish to buy Bach Singet Dem Herrn vocal score, please click Vocal Scores and then FILTER BY COMPOSER.

"Singet dem Herrn ein Neues Lied" ("Sing unto the Lord a new song") is widely considered the greatest of Bach's set of six motets. The purpose for which the motets were written is not known; however, the survival of Bach's autograph score and parts have in this instance allowed a dating of 1726 or 1727. Bach was under no obligation to provide motets for the Lutheran liturgy in Leipzig (which explains their small number in comparison with his huge output of cantatas), but it seems possible that all but the present work were written for funerals.

An alternative and persuasive argument has been advanced by the great Bach scholar Christoph Wolff, who believes that motets such as the present work were written for didactic purposes -- to teach Bach's many pupils varying aspects of compositional and performance technique. Such a theory fits this complex and extraordinarily inventive motet very well, for it is a technical tour de force that makes considerable demands on its performers. The text consists of a typical juxtaposition of biblical texts (Psalms 149 and 150) and the text of two hymns from the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries), here augmented by an anonymous poetic text. The motet is cast in three distinct sections, fast, slow, and fast. It opens with an eight-part chorus, which after a homophonic introduction proceeds to a section in which one four-part choir is used to accompany a fugal development by the other, an extraordinary and at the time unique device. The central slower section is also layered and divided into two four-part choruses, with the anonymous poetic text freely juxtaposed with the stricter lines of the chorale melody. The final section initially returns to the animated homophony of the opening, but subsequently evolves into a four-part fugue with the two choirs combined.

Unlike the cantatas, which quickly dropped from the repertoire after Bach's death, performances of the motets continued in Leipzig. In 1789, a performance of "Singet dem Herrn" was mounted for Mozart when he visited the city; after hearing the motet, he is said to have exclaimed, "That is really something from which one can learn a great deal!"

Click here to view items related to this and the other Bach Motets