Plaintive Is the Song I Sing


Performance Notes:

Tune Information:

NUN KOMM DER HEIDEN HEILAND is a chorale derived from a chant. Among the simplest of the Lutheran repertoire, it is framed by identical lines–l and 4.

The tune dates from a twelfth- or thirteenth-century Einsiedeln manuscript. Presumably by Johann Walther, the adaptation of the tune was published in the 1524 Erfurt Enchiridia. Johann S. Bach used the tune for preludes in the Clavierübung and Orgelbüchlein and in his cantatas 36 and 62.

The harmonization in the Psalter Hymnal (and in Psalms for All Seasons) comes from Seth Calvisius's Hymni Sacri (1594). Originally named Seth Kalwitz, Calvisius (b. Gorsleben, Thuringia, Germany, 1556; d. Leipzig, Germany, 1615) became known as the leading music theoretician of his time. He was educated at the universities of Helmstedt and Leipzig and spent much of his life teaching and writing about music history and theory. He taught at the Fürstenschule in Schulpforta from 1582 to 1594 and at the University of Leipzig from 1594 until his death. He also served as cantor at several churches. In addition to his theoretical work, Calvisius wrote psalm and hymn tunes and anthems, and he edited the first hymn book published in Leipzig, Harmonia cantionum ecclesiasticarum (1597).

Other Resources:

  • Visit for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND/VENI REDEMPTOR GENTIUM

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]
  • Sedio, Mark. Let It Rip! At the Piano. vol. 2 Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]
Song Audio: 
Psalm 7
Song Number: 
Projection and Reprint Information: 
  • Words: Permitted with a license from or from If you do not own one of these licenses, please contact the copyright holder for permission.
  • Music: The Music is in the Public Domain; you do not need permission to project or reprint the Music.
Public Domain