Top Organ Chorale Prelude Collections

January 24, 2023 Melody Lipke

Preludes center your congregation’s hearts and minds on treasured hymn texts and tunes that inspire reflection and encourage their faith. Chorale preludes in particular draw upon a rich heritage while setting a dignified and majestic tone for the worship service. From complex and established to more emphatic and modern, these chorale prelude collections offer something special to your congregation. 

The Lutheran Chorale

The significance of the chorale encompasses not only Lutheran heritage, but quality musical composition and Christ-centered texts. The music of chorales was intentionally written with congregational singing in mind, as they provide a steady musical structure that is easy to learn and recognize. While the chorale tune is widely accessible, chorale texts teach core Scriptural concepts that witness about Christ. Because the texts focus on central theological teachings, they can serve a catechetical purpose for new Christians and reinforce biblical concepts for those established in their faith. Hymn tunes have the power to connect a melody to a certain text, establishing and reinforcing theological concepts with music. In this way, the union of a chorale text and tune provide meaning through congregational singing and family worship, as well as private devotion and remembrance. 

Chorale Preludes of Dietrich Buxtehude

The Chorale Preludes of Dietrich Buxtehude are a time-honored standard in chorale preludes. These complex compositions allow an experienced organist to play recognizable chorales such as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright"  in a decorative classical style. This commemorative edition includes historical information about each prelude including the stop lists of the organs Buxtehude played in Germany, which inform the registration selections for the preludes in this collection. 

Chorale Preludes of Georg Philipp Telemann

Another classic chorale collection includes the historic Chorale Preludes of Georg Philipp Telemann, who was a contemporary of J.S. Bach. These historic compositional classics have been selected in correspondence with the hymns of Lutheran Service Book. Telemann typically set each tune twice, so the nineteen chorale preludes in the collection provide multiple setting options for a relevant chorale tune. These revered works should join your shelves as a church music standard. 

Hymn Inventions: Nine Chorale Preludes for the Church Year

The Hymn Inventions collections include four separate volumes with nine different preludes each. These preludes provide a fresh take on classic chorale tunes and can be used both as preludes and hymn introductions. Composer Sam Eatherton centralizes the chorale tunes while including decorative harmonic and rhythmic choices that innovate the classic tunes. The style ranges from the majestic fanfare of “Up through Endless Ranks of Angels” in Volume 4 to the reflective “Christ, Mighty Savior” found in Volume 1. With each of the volumes focusing on different chorales, collecting all the volumes of Hymn Inventions provides a range of richly ornamented chorales for use throughout the Church Year. 

Hymn Tune Innovations: Eight Easy Chorale Preludes for All Seasons

For the organist looking to expand their skills through engaging chorale prelude collections, Hymn Tune Innovations: Eight Easy Chorale Preludes for All Seasons by contemporary composer Benjamin Culli is an excellent choice. The five different sets include eight preludes each that are convenient for seasoned organists and more approachable for newer organists.  Culli crafts each prelude composition so that the chorale tune is centralized and highlighted by the surrounding harmonies. Each set offers a range of chorale compositions for different seasons of the Church Year. Set 2 of Hymn Tune Innovations particularly focuses on chorale tunes that can be used in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. These accessible and stately collections are wonderful to have on hand for any organist.

Chorales Proclaim Truth

Organ chorale preludes impart a worshipful tone as a vehicle for core truths about Jesus Christ. When using chorale tunes as the heart of the chorale preludes, the cherished hymns recall the biblically profound texts that connect to the tunes. From complex to accessible, the chorale prelude serves to set a stately tone and remind congregational listeners of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and His good news for His people through Word and Sacrament. These powerful Scriptural truths resonate through the vibrant chorale preludes that have witnessed to congregations for centuries and will continue to witness to your own congregation.

 Find a new organ chorale prelude to play at your church this month by clicking the button below. 

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