Bach’s Canonic Variations for organ (BWV 769) are based on the Christmas hymn, Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her (From Heaven above to Earth I come). Martin Luther composed the words and melody in 1539. Bach also set this famous hymn in his Christmas Oratorio, in the Magnificat and in several early chorale preludes.
The Canonic Variations were offered to solidify Bach’s entry to the Society for Musical Sciences in Leipzig in 1747. Soon afterwards, the work was engraved in copper.
Hear these incredible variations performed here by Helmut Walcha on the Silbermann Organ in the Church of St. Pierre le Jeune, Strassbourg.