To comfort and sustain us The HYMN OF THE DAY, “To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord” (406), published in 1541, completed Martin Luther’s project of writing a hymn for each chief part of the Small Catechism. In seven stanzas, the hymn summarizes the account of Jesus’ baptism and the Scriptural teaching on baptism as summarized in the catechism. The English translation is by Elizabeth Quitmeyer (1911-1988).
The tune was originally composed by Johann Walter in 1524 for Luther’s hymn on Psalm 67, “May God Bestow on Us His Grace” (823). When a new tune began to be used with that text, “To Jordan Came” became associated with this tune and was called “Christ, unser Herr.”
The PRELUDE is a setting (BWV 684) of this hymn by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) from his collection Clavier Übung III. This collection contains two chorale preludes on each of the catechism chorales: a shorter setting to correspond to the Small Catechism; and a longer setting to correspond to the Large Catechism. In this setting, the hands play contrasting motives on the manuals that are meant to evoke the sound of flowing water, while the melody is played with the feet on the pedals with a 4’ reed stop.