O Mensch, Bewein' Dein Sünde Gross (arr Grainger)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (setting Percy Aldridge Grainger; ed. Michael Brand and Keith Brion)

The title translates from the German roughly as "Oh, man, now weep for thy great sin."

This work bears the designation BWV 622

General Info

Year: 1724? / 1937-1942 / 1987
Duration: c. 6:20
Difficulty: III-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Publisher: G & M Brand
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $20.00

Instrumentation (Flexible)

Grainger's concept of elastic scoring allowed him to adapt the music to all of the maddeningly possible (or impossible) instrumental combinations one encounters in educational situations. In his early music settings, each musical voice is assigned a "tone strand:" Strand A for the soprano line, Strand B for the alto line, etc. through the bass line. These parts may then be played by a variety of instrumental combinations.

- Note from score


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The chorale-prelude O Mensch... is taken from Bach's Orgelbüchlein collection. Grainger created the setting between 1937 and 1942. While not unusual today, his beautiful realization of the ornamentation was revolutionary in the 1940s.

- Program Note from score

O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (O man, bewail thy sins so great) is a Lutheran Passion hymn with a text written by Sebald Heyden in 1530. The author reflects the Passion, based on the Four Evangelists, originally in 23 stanzas. The lyrics were written for an older melody, Es sind doch selig alle, die im rechten Glauben wandeln (Zahn No. 8303). The first and last stanzas have appeared in 11 hymnals. Catherine Winkworth translated it as "O man, thy grievous sin bemoan".

Johann Sebastian Bach composed a chorale prelude from Orgelbüchlein, BWV 622. In the second version of his St John Passion, he began the work with a chorale fantasia on the first stanza of the hymn, which he later modified to conclude Part I of his St Matthew Passion as movement 29.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Chorale-Prelude: O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde Groß, BWV 402 (1713-16/1937-42) is from Bach’s Orgel-Büchlein, a collection of forty-six chorales composed between 1713 and 1716. The title has a number of translations: “O Man, Bewail (or Lament, Weep For) The Grievous (or Great) Fall (or Sin).” Bach described the Orgel-Büchlein as “a little organ book in which young organists are guided concerning the different ways of performing a chorale, at the same time practicing their use of the pedal since the latter, in the offered chorales, is throughout obligatory. For the glory of God on High and for the instruction of my fellow man.” O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde Groß is the most widely performed chorale of the collection.

Percy Grainger, the extraordinary twentieth-century composer, had a great passion and respect for Bach, saying, “Of all the composers who have ever existed, Grieg and Bach are the ones I love most.” He created this setting between 1937 and 1942 during his summer teaching at Interlochen. While not unusual today, his beautiful realization of the ornamentation was revolutionary in the 1940s.

- Program Note from University of North Texas University Band concert program, 6 November 2019


State Ratings

  • Florida: IV
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Massachusetts: IV
  • Texas: IV. Complete
  • Virginia: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Maryland (College Park) University Banda (Craig Potter, conductor) - 3 December 2021
  • University of Texas Arlington Symphonic Winds (Christopher Evans, conductor) - 9 December 2020
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Wayne Olfert, conductor) - 19 October 2020
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Symphony (Debra Traficante, conductor) – 5 March 2020
  • University of North Texas (Denton) University Band (Jochen McEvoy, conductor) – 6 November 2019
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds (Anthony Marinello, III, conductor) – 5 October 2018
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg) Wind Ensemble (Kevin Geraldi, conductor) – 29 April 2018
  • Banda cittadina di Brescia (Italy) (Sergio Negretti, conductor) - 2016
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David Waybright, conductor) – 19 January 2015
  • Central Washington University (Ellensburg) Wind Ensemble (Larry Gookin, conductor) – 17 March 2006 (CBDNA 2006 Western/Northwestern Division Conference, Reno, Nev.)

Works for Winds by This Composer

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