Sleepers, Awake! (arr Patterson)

From Wind Repertory Project
Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (arr Merlin Patterson)

Subtitle: Chorale Prelude: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

General Info

Year: 1731 / 1995
Duration: c. 4:55
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Choir
Publisher: Manhattan Beach Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $125.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


Full Score
Flute(one doubling Piccolo)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Sleepers Awake! is one of J.S. Bach's most exquisite works, both in its cantata and chorale-prelude versions, and though some may not recognize it by name (or have heard the originals), many are nevertheless familiar with its hauntingly beautiful melodies. Much of this present-day fame is the result of the LP recording made by Eugene Ormandy conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra. His orchestral version was for many record collectors their first hearing of the music. Today, this band version delivers anew the same gift to students and audiences, providing them firsthand experience of some of the greatest music ever composed.

The Lutheran hymn-tune of Philipp Nocolai is central to Bach's two versions of Sleepers Awake!, the first in 1731 in Cantata BWV 140, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, and the next in 1746 as the first chorale prelude for organ in the Schubler Chorales BWV 645-650. Bach's texture is three-fold: a florid, motivic upper voice; the hymn tune below it; and a firm, supportive bass. Bach's brilliant working out of these elements yields a work of compelling grandeur and power.

To Dr. Ralph W. Mills, Director of Bands Emeritus, Sam Houston State University, my teacher, mentor and friend.

- Program Note from score

Cantata 140 was written in 1731 for the 27th Sunday after Trinity (the first week of Advent) and is based on a chorale by Philipp Nicolai (1556–1608) and takes as its text the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The fourth movement of the cantata is beautiful in its simplicity and consists of only three melodic lines: unison violins and violas play a graceful melody over the chorale tune (sung by the tenors of the choir in the original and played in this arrangement by trumpets and trombones) and a basso continuo. It is an example of Bach’s counterpoint at its elegant and imaginative best, all the more remarkable in the knowledge it was part of a frenetic cantata output, written during a period when he had grown disillusioned with his social and musical position in Leipzig.

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band concert program, 30 November 2016


State Ratings

  • Louisiana: IV
  • Texas: IV. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • New Orleans (La.) Concert Band (Charles Taylor, conductor) – 16 December 2018

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