Two sacred Songs op. 19

for medium voice and organ

  • No. 1 Passionslied

    Text: Christoph Christian Sturm

  • No. 2 Doch du ließest ihn im Grabe nicht

    Text: Charles Jennens

Komponiert in Wiesbaden, April 1898
urspr. Elsa von Bercken

Performance medium

Work collection
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Original work
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Reger-Werkausgabe Bd. II/7: Vokalwerke mit Orgelbegleitung und weiteren Instrumenten, S. 4–13.
Herausgeber Alexander Becker, Christopher Grafschmidt, Stefan König.
Unter Mitarbeit von Dennis Ried und Stefanie Steiner-Grage.
Verlag Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart; Verlags- und Plattennummer: CV 52.814.
Erscheinungsdatum Juni 2019.
Notensatz Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart.
Copyright 2019 by Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart and Max-Reger-Institut, Karlsruhe – CV 52.814.
Vervielfältigungen jeglicher Art sind gesetzlich verboten. / Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. / All rights reserved.
ISMN M-007-18850-4.
ISBN 978-3-89948-318-5.

1. Composition

When Karl Straube performed several movements from Reger’s Suite in E minor op. 16 in the presence of the composer on 1 April 1898 in the Paulskirche, Frankfurt, the concert also included the Passion hymn “In Todes Aengsten” from Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Sturms geistliche Gesänge mit Melodien Vol. 2 Wq 198; the following concert on 5 April the program also included the recitative and aria Doch du ließest ihn im Grabe nicht [But thou didst not leave his soul in hell] from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.1 Back in Wiesbaden, Reger immediately set to work on the two texts set by Bach and Handel. The date of completion of the first copy is 29 April 1898.2 According to the title heading on p. 1 (and a pasting over on p. 6) the manuscript initially comprised three songs; when Reger cut out the middle one is unclear. The choice of text of the two surviving songs as well as the chorales quoted in them – “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” (in both songs), »O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden« (in no. 1) and “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” (in no. 2) – are evidence of Reger’s life crisis at this time.

Composition · Publication · Early reception · “Widmung” (ger.)

2. Publication

Whether Reger sent the first copy of the two songs to Augener & Co. in London is doubtful – anyhow, directly before this the publisher had turned down the Piano Quintet in C minor WoO II/9 in harsh terms (see Karl Hallwachs, Erinnerungen [ger.]). At any rate Reger brought the manuscript with him when he moved to Weiden in June 1898, and following the end of his collaboration with Augener, immediately set about searching for a new publisher from there.3 For this purpose he made a further fair copy as the engraver’s copy of the songs (date of completion: 15 July 1898), which is less fully worked out than the first copy as regards the “red layer” of performance instruction markings by doing without phrasing (see Phrasierungsbezeichnung in der Erstschrift [ger.]).

According to a letter dated 16 August Reger initially negotiated with the Bremen publisher Praeger & Meier, and at the end of September he unsuccessfully approached the Leipzig publishers Max Brockhaus (see letter dated 18 September) and C.F. Peters (letter dated 28 September). On 11 January 1899 Reger then offered op. 19 to Breitkopf & Härtel: “I wrote the sacred songs because for church concerts, one does not exactly have the greatest choice of appropriate literature as ‘solo songs’.” (Letter) Finally, in February the Munich publisher Aibl-Verlag, with whom he had signed a contract for the first time in December 1898, accepted the work. The copyright agreement and royalty receipt for 30 marks were signed by Reger on 14 February 1899 in Weiden. The proofs do not survive, but op. 19 was advertised for June 1899 in Hofmeister’s Musikalisch-literarischer Monatsbericht.4

Composition · Publication · Early reception · “Widmung” (ger.)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

Reger had travelled to Straube’s first two concerts in Frankfurt on 29 March (the program did not include any works by Reger) and 1 April, but had to miss the concert on 5 April because of illness. Both song texts were, however, printed in the combined program book.
The first copy also contains a dedication to Elsa von Bercken, but this was probably a gift inscription and was added at a much later date (see the article “Widmung”).
See Lindner 1938, pp. 143f. und 164.
71 Jg., no. 6, p. 259. – On the other hand Reger had announced in a letter dated 17 March 1899 to Ernst Guder: “By the end of April at the latest the following will be published: op 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 30, 31, 32 […]”. The information can be verified for most of the works listed.

1. Reception

Both the songs were favourably received by the music critics. Alexander Wilhelm Gottschalg as editor of Urania counted them “amongst the most interesting publications in the genre in question. Not only are the texts unusually profoundly expressed, but the accompaniment too is exceptionally meaningful and supports the melody in a rare way.” (Review) Wilhelm Herold too in Siona reached a positive conclusion via a more differentiated assessment: “[…] both compositions have earned praise for a fine and stylistically-conceived structure, through which a characteristic mood is immediately created. But this mood remains a depressed and anxious one, although both songs end in the prophesy of Easter. The interest in the organ accompaniment outweighs the effect of the voice part, indeed the latter is not always singable, it is not even an organic part of the whole and is not supported by it […] Nevertheless both the songs tower above the average musical literature by some considerable distance.” (Review)

Composition · Publication · Early reception
Reviews (ger.)


Translation by Elizabeth Robinson.

1. Stemma

Die in Klammern gesetzten Quellen sind verschollen.
Die in Klammern gesetzten Quellen sind verschollen.

2. Quellenbewertung

Der Edition liegt als Leitquelle der Erstdruck zugrunde. Als autographe Quellen wurden die Erstschrift und die Stichvorlage herangezogen.
Der wesentlichste Unterschied zwischen den Quellen besteht darin, dass die Erstschrift durchgängig mit Phrasierungs- bzw. Artikluationsbögen bezeichnet ist. Daneben gibt es Varianten in den Vortragsangaben und auch auf der Ebene des schwarzen Notentexts. Die Abweichungen der Stichvorlage von der Erstschrift sind – von einfachen Schreibfehlern abgesehen – fast durchweg als Korrekturen oder zumindest als bewusste Änderungen anzusehen. Der Verzicht auf Bögen stellt dabei eine grundsätzliche Entscheidung dar (siehe Zur Phrasierung), die nicht auf isolierte Stellen zu beziehen ist. Auf den Nachweis einzelner Bögen durch eine Vielzahl von Einzelanmerkungen im Lesartenverzeichnis wurde deshalb verzichtet.

3. Sources

  • Erstschrift
  • Stichvorlage
  • Erstdruck

Weiterlesen in der RWA

Object reference

Max Reger: Two sacred Songs op. 19, in: Reger-Werkausgabe,, last check: 3rd June 2023.


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