This brief but brilliant work is taken from Helmut Walcha's "Fünfundzwanzig Choralvorspiele", published by C. F. Peeters in 1954.
Helmut Walcha (October 27, 1907 in Leipzig – August 11, 1991 in Frankfurt) was a blind German organist who specialized in the works of the Dutch and German baroque masters and is known for his recordings of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Born in Leipzig, Walcha was blinded at age 19 after vaccination for smallpox. Despite his disability, he entered the Leipzig Conservatory and became an assistant at the Thomaskirche to Günther Ramin, who was professor of organ at the conservatory and cantor at St. Thomas'. In 1929, Walcha accepted a position in Frankfurt am Main at the Friedenskirche and remained in Frankfurt for the rest of his life. From 1933 to 1938 he taught at the Hoch Conservatory. In 1938 he was appointed professor of organ at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt and organist of the Dreikönigskirche in 1946. He retired from public performance in 1981.
Walcha also composed for the organ. He published four volumes of original chorale preludes, published by C. F. Peters, as well as arrangements for organ of orchestral works written by others.
He lectured on organ music and composition (illustrated by his own playing) at the Hoch Conservatory and the Frankfurt Musikhochschule. One other contribution to music scholarship is his attempted completion of the final (unfinished) fugue of The Art of Fugue.
This work glitters with the brilliant lights of the Epiphany. Walcha calls for the principal chorus on the manuals and reeds in the pedal for the cantus. I interpreted "principal chorus" to include mixtures, and you'll just how brilliant and appropriate the Hereford mixtures sound!
Americans will know this tune as "Neander" and will mostly likely associate it with the Easter text, "He is risen!"
A photo of Walcha is included, as well as photos of the Friedenskirche and the Dreikönigskirche.