Christmas Oratorio
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Christmas Oratorio
First page of the first part of the Christmas Oratorio

The Christmas Oratorio (German: Weihnachts-Oratorium), , is an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach intended for performance in church during the Christmas season. It was written for the Christmas season of 1734 and incorporates music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas written during 1733 and 1734 and a largely lost church cantata, BWV 248a. The date is confirmed in Bach's autograph manuscript. The next performance was not until 17 December 1857 by the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin under Eduard Grell. The Christmas Oratorio is a particularly sophisticated example of parody music. The author of the text is unknown, although a likely collaborator was Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander).

The work belongs to a group of three oratorios written in 1734 and 1735 for major feasts, the other two works being the Ascension Oratorio (BWV 11) and the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249). All three of these oratorios to some degree parody earlier compositions. The Christmas Oratorio is by far the longest and most complex work of the three.[1]

The Christmas Oratorio is in six parts, each part being intended for performance on one of the major feast days of the Christmas period. The piece is often presented as a whole or split into two equal parts. The total running time for the entire work is nearly three hours.

The first part (for Christmas Day) describes the Birth of Jesus, the second (for December 26) the annunciation to the shepherds, the third (for December 27) the adoration of the shepherds, the fourth (for New Year's Day) the circumcision and naming of Jesus, the fifth (for the first Sunday after New Year) the journey of the Magi, and the sixth (for Epiphany) the adoration of the Magi.

History

First two pages of the libretto of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, as printed in 1734.[2]

In the liturgical calendar of the German reformation era in Saxony, the Christmas season started on 25 December (Christmas Day) and ended on 6 January (Epiphany). It was preceded by Advent, and followed by the period of the Sundays after Epiphany. It included at least three feast days that called for festive music during religious services: apart from Christmas (Nativity of Christ) and Epiphany (Visit of the Magi) the period also included New Year's Day (1 January), in Bach's time still often referred to as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. Also 26 and 27 December (second and third day of Christmas) were commonly considered feast days, with festive music in church. If a Sunday fell between 27 December and 1 January, also on this first Sunday after Christmas a church service with music was held, and similar for a Sunday between 1 and 6 January (second Sunday after Christmas, or: first Sunday after New Year).

1714-1729

Before Bach composed his Christmas Oratorio for the 1734-35 Christmas season in Leipzig, he had already composed Christmas cantatas and other church music for all seven occasions of the Christmas season:

Four of these third cycle cantatas for the Christmas season, BWV 110, 57, 151 and 16, were on a text from Georg Christian Lehms's Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer cantata libretto cycle, which had been published in 1711.[24][25] In the second half of the 1720s Bach often collaborated with Picander as a librettist for his cantatas. The Shepherd Cantata, BWV 249a, first performed on 23 February 1725, one of Bach's secular cantatas, is an early example of such cantata.[26] Bach reused the music of this cantata in the 1725 first version of his Easter Oratorio.[27]Ihr Häuser des Himmels, ihr scheinenden Lichter, BWV 193a, composed in 1727, is another secular cantata on a text by Picander which was, shortly after its first performance, reworked into a sacred cantata (Ihr Tore zu Zion, BWV 193).[28] In 1728-29 Picander published a cantata libretto cycle, leading to at least two further Christmas season cantatas by Bach:

A Christmas oratorio presented as a cycle of six cantatas, to be performed on several days during the Christmas period, was not uncommon in Bach's day: Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, whose church music was not unknown to Bach and Leipzig churchgoers,[31] had composed such Christmas oratorios in 1719 and 1728.[32][33][34]

1730s

Models from earlier compositions

In the early 1730s, Bach composed a number of secular cantatas, including:

Movements from the BWV 213, 214 and 215 cantatas form the basis of several movements of the Christmas Oratorio.[36][37][38] In addition to these sources, the sixth cantata is based on a largely lost church cantata, BWV 248a, of which at least the opening chorus is based on the lost secular cantata BWV 1160.[35][39] The trio aria in Part V "Ach, wenn wird die Zeit erscheinen?" is believed to be from a similarly lost source, and the chorus from the same section "Wo ist der neugeborne König" is from the 1731 St Mark Passion, BWV 247.[40]

Cantata movements reused in Christmas Oratorio[41][42]
Cantata Movement Type BWV 248 Movement
BWV 213/1 Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen Chorus (SATB) 36 (IV/1) Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben
BWV 213/3 Schlafe, mein Liebster, und pflege der Ruh Aria (s->a) 19 (II/10) Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh
BWV 213/5 Treues Echo dieser Orten Aria (a->s) 39 (IV/4) Flößt, mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen
BWV 213/7 Auf meinen Flügeln sollst du schweben Aria (t) 41 (IV/6) Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben
BWV 213/9 Ich will dich nicht hören Aria (a) 04 (I/4) Bereite, dich, Zion
BWV 213/11 Ich bin deine, du bist meine Duet (at->sb) 29 (III/6) Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen
BWV 214/1 Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten Chorus (SATB) 01 (I/1) Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage
BWV 214/5 Fromme Musen! meine Glieder Aria (a->t) 15 (II/6) Frohe Hirten, eilt, ach eilet
BWV 214/7 Kron und Preis gekrönter Damen Aria (b) 08 (I/8) Großer Herr, o starker König
BWV 214/9 Blühet, ihr Linden in Sachsen, wie Zedern Chorus (SATB) 24 (III/1&13) Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen
BWV 215/7 Durch die von Eifer entflammten Waffen Aria (s->b) 47 (V/5) Erleucht auch meine finstre Sinnen
BWV 247/43 Pfui dich, wie fein zerbrichst du den Tempel Chorus (SATB) 45 (V/3) Wo ist der neugeborne König der Juden
BWV 248a/1 -- Chorus (SATB) 54 (VI/1) Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben
BWV 248a/2 -- Recitative (->s) 56 (VI/3) Du Falscher, suche nur den Herrn zu fällen
BWV 248a/3 -- Aria (->s) 57 (VI/4) Nur ein Wink von seinen Händen
BWV 248a/4 -- Recitative (->t) 61 (VI/8) So geht! Genug, mein Schatz geht nicht von hier
BWV 248a/5 -- Aria (->t) 62 (VI/9) Nun mögt ihr stolzen Feinde schrecken
BWV 248a/6 -- Recitative (->satb) 63 (VI/10) Was will der Höllen Schrecken nun
BWV 248a/7 -- Chorus (SATB) 64 (VI/11) Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen
? -- Trio (->sat) 51 (V/9) Ach! wann wird die Zeit erscheinen?

Chorales

Like for most of his German-language church music, Bach used Lutheran hymns, and their Lutheran chorale tunes, in his Christmas Oratorio.[43][44][45] The first chorale tune appears in the 5th movement of Part I: it is the tune known as Herzlich tut mich verlangen, that is, the same hymn tune which Bach used in his St Matthew Passion for setting several stanzas of Paul Gerhardt's "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" ("O Sacred Head, Now Wounded"). The same melody reappears in the last movement of the oratorio (No. 64, closing chorale of Part VI). In the oratorio there is, however, no association with the pain and suffering evoked in the Passion.[46]

Martin Luther's 1539 "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her" melody appears in three chorales: twice on a text by Paul Gerhardt in Part II of the oratorio, and the first time, in the closing chorale of Part I, with the 13th stanza of Luther's hymn as text. A well-known English version of that stanza is "Oh, my dear heart, young Jesus sweet", the first stanza of "Balulalow", as, for instance, sung by Sting:[47][48]

Ach mein herzliebes Jesulein,
Mach dir ein rein sanft Bettelein,
Zu ruhn in meines Herzens Schrein,
Dass ich nimmer vergesse dein!

Oh, my deir hert, young Jesus sweit,
Prepare thy creddil in my spreit,
And I sall rock thee in my hert,
And never mair from thee depart.

--lyrics of Christmas Oratorio, Part I --Popular rhymes of Scotland, p. 13

The Christmas Oratorio is exceptional in that it contains a few hymn settings, or versions of hymn tunes, for which there is no known earlier source than Bach's composition:[49][50]

There are very few known hymn tunes by Bach (he used Lutheran hymn tunes in the large majority of his sacred compositions, but rarely one of his own invention): apart from what can be found in the Christmas Oratorio, there appears to be one, partly inspired by a pre-existing melody, in the motet Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229 (composed before 1731-32),[56] and at least one entirely by Bach, "Vergiss mein nicht, vergiss mein nicht", BWV 505, in Schemellis Gesangbuch (published in 1736).[57]

Chorales in Christmas Oratorio[54]
Author Date Hymn; Stanza Stanza incipit Melody Composer Date Zahn BWV 248
Gerhardt 1653 Wie soll ich dich empfangen 01 Wie soll ich dich empfangen Herzlich tut mich verlangen Hassler 1601 5385a[58] 05 (I/5)
Luther 1524 Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ 06 Er ist auf Erden kommen arm Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ Luther 1524 1947 07 (I/7)
Luther 1535 Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her 13 Ach mein herzliebes Jesulein Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her Luther 1539 0346[59] 09 (I/9)
Rist 1641 Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist 09 Brich an, o schönes Morgenlicht Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist Schop/Crüger 1648 5741b[60] 12 (II/3)
Gerhardt 1667 Schaut, schaut, was ist für Wunder dar 08 Schaut hin! dort liegt im finstern Stall Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her Luther 1539 0346[61] 17 (II/8)
Gerhardt 1656 Wir singen dir, Immanuel 02 Wir singen dir in deinem Heer Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her Luther 1539 0346[62] 23 (II/14)
Luther 1524 Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ 07 Dies hat er alles uns getan Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ Luther 1524 1947[63] 28 (III/5)
Gerhardt 1653 Fröhlich soll mein Herze springen 15 Ich will dich mit Fleiß bewahren Warum sollt ich mich denn grämen Ebeling/Bach 1734 6462[53] 33 (III/10)
Runge [s:de] 1653 Laßt Furcht und Pein 04 Seid froh, dieweil Wir Christenleut habn jetzund Freud Füger 1593 2072[64] 35 (III/12)
Rist 1642 Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben 01a Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben -- Bach 1734 -- 38 (IV/3)
Rist 1642 Jesu, du mein liebstes Leben 01b Jesu, meine Freud und Wonne -- Bach 1734 -- 40 (IV/5)
Rist 1642 Hilf, Herr Jesu, laß gelingen 15 Jesus richte mein Beginnen Hilf, Herr Jesu, laß gelingen Bach 1734 Vol. VI p. 566[55] 42 (IV/7)
Weissel 1642 Nun, liebe Seel, nun ist es Zeit 05 Dein Glanz all' Finsternis verzehrt In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr (Nürnberg) 1581 2461c[65] 46 (V/4)
Franck 1655 Ihr Gestirn, ihr hohlen Lüfte 09 Zwar ist solche Herzensstube Gott des Himmels und der Erden Albert/(Darmstadt) 1687 3614b[66] 53 (V/11)
Gerhardt 1656 Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier 01 Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein (Wittenberg) 1529 4429a[67] 59 (VI/6)
Werner 1648 Ihr Christen auserkoren 04 Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen Herzlich tut mich verlangen Hassler 1601 5385a[68] 64 (VI/11)

Gospel narrative

Like for his other oratorios, and his Passion settings, Bach employed a narrative based on the Gospel in his Christmas Oratorio. The Gospel narrative of this oratorio followed, to a certain extent, the respective Gospel readings of the church services where the six cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio were to be performed for the first time. The six services of the Christmas season 1734-35 where the oratorio's cantatas were to be performed had these Gospel readings:

  1. Christmas Day: Luke 2:1-14 (theme: Nativity, Annunciation to the shepherds and the angels' song).
  2. Second Day of Christmas: Luke 2:15-20 (theme: Adoration of the Shepherds).
  3. Third Day of Christmas: John 1:1-14 - prologue of the Gospel of John, also known as Hymn to the Word.
  4. New Year's Day: Luke 2:21 (theme: Circumcision of Jesus)
  5. Sunday after New Year: Matthew 2:13-23 (theme: the Flight into Egypt)
  6. Epiphany: Matthew 2:1-12 (theme: Wise Men From the East)

As usual in most of his oratorios, and all of his Passions, the Evangelist character enunciated the Gospel text in sung recitatives, except the passages in direct speech, which were sung by soloists or choral groups representing the characters who spoke these texts according to the Gospel narrative. The Gospel text included by Bach in his six Christmas Oratorio cantatas consists of:

  1. Luke 2:1, 3-7, i.e. part of the Christmas Day reading.
  2. Luke 2:8-14, i.e. second half of the Christmas Day reading.
  3. Luke 2:15-20, i.e. text of the Second Day of Christmas Gospel reading.
  4. Luke 2:21, i.e. the New Year's Day Gospel reading
  5. Matthew 2:1-6, i.e. part of the Gospel reading for the Epiphany feast
  6. Matthew 2:7-12, i.e. second half of the Gospel reading for Epiphany

The Gospel readings for the Third Day of Christmas (Prologue of the Gospel of John), and for the Sunday after New Year (the Flight to Egypt) are not directly used in the Christmas Oratorio. In detail:

Gospel readings in Christmas Oratorio
Day Reading BWV 248 Occasion Movement
Christmas 1 Luke 2:1 02 (I/2a) Christmas 1 Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit
Luke 2:2 --
Luke 2:3-6 02 (I/2b) Christmas 1 Und jedermann ging
Luke 2:7 06 (I/6) Und sie gebar ihren ersten Sohn
Luke 2:8-9 11 (II/2) Christmas 2 Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend
Luke 2:10-11 13 (II/4) Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen
Luke 2:12 16 (II/7) Und das habt zum Zeichen
Luke 2:13 20 (II/11) Und alsobald war da bei dem Engel
Luke 2:14 21 (II/12) Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe
Christmas 2 Luke 2:15a 25 (III/2) Christmas 3 Und da die Engel von ihnen gen Himmel fuhren
Luke 2:15b 26 (III/3) Lasset uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem
Luke 2:16-19 30 (III/7) Und sie kamen eilend
Luke 2:20 34 (III/11) Und die Hirten kehrten wieder um
Christmas 3 John 1:1-14 --
New Year Luke 2:21 37 (IV/2) New Year Und da acht Tage um waren
New Year I Matthew 2:13-23 --
Epiphany Matthew 2:1 44 (V/2) New Year I Da Jesus geboren war zu Bethlehem
Matthew 2:2 45 (V/3) Wo ist der neugeborne König der Juden
Matthew 2:3 48 (V/6) Da das der König Herodes hörte
Matthew 2:4-6 50 (V/8) Und ließ versammeln alle Hohenpriester
Matthew 2:7-8 55 (VI/2) Epiphany Da berief Herodes die Weisen heimlich
Matthew 2:9-11 58 (VI/5) Als sie nun den König gehöret hatten
Matthew 2:12 60 (VI/7) Und Gott befahl ihnen im Traum

First performance

The oratorio was written for performance on six feast days of Christmas during the winter of 1734 and 1735. The original score also contains details of when each part was performed. It was incorporated within services of the two most important churches in Leipzig, St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. As can be seen below, the work was only performed in its entirety at the St. Nicholas Church.

First performances:

  • 25 December 1734: Part I - 'early in the morning' at St. Nicholas; 'in the afternoon' at St. Thomas
  • 26 December 1734: Part II - morning at St. Thomas; afternoon at St. Nicholas
  • 27 December 1734: Part III - morning at St. Nicholas
  • 1 January 1735: Part IV - morning at St. Thomas; afternoon at St. Nicholas
  • 2 January 1735: Part V - morning at St Nicholas
  • 6 January 1735: Part VI - morning at St. Thomas; afternoon at St. Nicholas

Text

Conrad von Soest: Birth of Christ (1404)
Georges de La Tour: Adoration of the Shepherds (1644)
Giotto: Angels at the Nativity (c. 1300)
Rembrandt: Circumcision of Christ (1661)
Magi before Herod; France, early 15th century
Rogier van der Weyden: Adoration of the Magi (c. 1430-60)
Rembrandt: Flight into Egypt (1627)

The ease with which the new text fits the existing music is one of the indications of how successful a parody the Christmas Oratorio is of its sources. Musicologist Alfred Dürr[69] and others, such as Christoph Wolff[70] have suggested that Bach's sometime collaborator Picander (the pen name of Christian Friedrich Henrici) wrote the new text, working closely with Bach to ensure a perfect fit with the re-used music. It may have even been the case that the Christmas Oratorio was already planned when Bach wrote the secular cantatas BWV 213, 214 and 215, given that the original works were written fairly close to the oratorio and the seamless way with which the new words fit the existing music.[70]

Nevertheless, on two occasions Bach abandoned the original plan and was compelled to write new music for the Christmas Oratorio. The alto aria in Part III, "Schließe, mein Herze" was originally to have been set to the music for the aria "Durch die von Eifer entflammten Waffen" from BWV 215. On this occasion, however, the parody technique proved to be unsuccessful and Bach composed the aria afresh. Instead, he used the model from BWV 215 for the bass aria "Erleucht' auch meine finstre Sinnen" in Part V. Similarly, the opening chorus to Part V, "Ehre sei dir Gott!" was almost certainly intended to be set to the music of the chorus "Lust der Völker, Lust der Deinen" from BWV 213, given the close correspondence between the texts of the two pieces. The third major new piece of writing (with the notable exception of the recitatives), the sublime pastoral Sinfonia which opens Part II, was composed from scratch for the new work.

In addition to the new compositions listed above, special mention must go to the recitatives, which knit together the oratorio into a coherent whole. In particular, Bach made particularly effective use of recitative when combining it with chorales in no. 7 of part I ("Er ist auf Erden kommen arm") and even more ingeniously in the recitatives nos. 38 and 40 which frame the "Echo Aria" ("Flößt, mein Heiland"), no. 39 in part IV.

Until 1999 the only complete English version of the Christmas Oratorio was that prepared in 1874 by John Troutbeck for the music publisher Novello.[71] A new edition has been worked up by Neil Jenkins.

Narrative structure

The structure of the story is defined to a large extent by the particular requirements of the church calendar for Christmas 1734/35. Bach abandoned his usual practice when writing church cantatas of basing the content upon the Gospel reading for that day in order to achieve a coherent narrative structure. Were he to have followed the calendar, the story would have unfolded as follows:

  1. Birth and Annunciation to the Shepherds
  2. The Adoration of the Shepherds
  3. Prologue to the Gospel of John
  4. Circumcision and Naming of Jesus
  5. The Flight into Egypt
  6. The Coming and Adoration of the Magi

This would have resulted in the Holy Family fleeing before the Magi had arrived, which was unsuitable for an oratorio evidently planned as a coherent whole. Bach removed the content for the Third Day of Christmas (December 27), John's Gospel, and split the story of the two groups of visitors--Shepherds and Magi--into two. This resulted in a more understandable exposition of the Christmas story:

  1. The Birth
  2. The Annunciation to the Shepherds
  3. The Adoration of the Shepherds
  4. The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus
  5. The Journey of the Magi
  6. The Adoration of the Magi

The Flight into Egypt takes place after the end of the sixth part.

That Bach saw the six parts as comprising a greater, unified whole is evident both from the surviving printed text and from the structure of the music itself. The edition has not only a title--Weihnachts-Oratorium--connecting together the six sections, but these sections are also numbered consecutively. As John Butt has mentioned,[72] this points, as in the Mass in B minor, to a unity beyond the performance constraints of the church year.

Music

Bach expresses the unity of the whole work within the music itself, in part through his use of key signatures. Parts I and III are written in the keys of D major, part II in its subdominant key G major. Parts I and III are similarly scored for exuberant trumpets, while the Pastoral Part II (referring to the Shepherds) is, by contrast, scored for woodwind instruments and does not include an opening chorus. Part IV is written in F major (the relative key to D minor) and marks the furthest musical point away from the oratorio's opening key, scored for horns. Bach then embarks upon a journey back to the opening key, via the dominant A major of Part V to the jubilant re-assertion of D major in the final part, lending an overall arc to the piece. To reinforce this connection, between the beginning and the end of the work, Bach re-uses the chorale melody of Part I's "Wie soll ich dich empfangen" in the final chorus of Part VI, "Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen"; this choral melody is the same as of "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden", which Bach used five times in his St Matthew Passion.

The music represents a particularly sophisticated expression of the parody technique, by which existing music is adapted to a new purpose. Bach took the majority of the choruses and arias from works which had been written some time earlier. Most of this music was 'secular', that is written in praise of royalty or notable local figures, outside the tradition of performance within the church.[1]

Instrumentation

The scoring below[72] refers to parts, rather than necessarily to individual players. Adherents of theories specifying small numbers of performers (even to 'One Voice Per Part') may however choose to use numbers approaching one instrument per named part.

Part I
3 trumpets, timpani, 2 transverse flutes, 2 oboes, 2 oboes d'amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo group[I 1][I 2]
Part II
2 flutes, 2 oboes d'amore, 2 oboes da caccia, 2 violins, viola, continuo
Part III
3 trumpets, timpani, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 oboes d'amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo
Part IV
2 horns, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, continuo
Part V
2 oboes d'amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo
Part VI
3 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 oboes d'amore, 2 violins, viola, continuo
Notes
  1. ^ The continuo part is open to interpretation in matters of scoring. Examples: for his 1973 recording, Nikolaus Harnoncourt employed bassoon, violoncello, violone (double bass) and organ;[73]Peter Schreier (1987) used violoncello, double bass, bassoon, organ and harpsichord;[74]René Jacobs in 1997 chose violoncello, double bass, lute, bassoon, organ and harpsichord;[75] and Jos van Veldhoven in 2003 opted for violoncello, double bass, bassoon, organ, harpsichord and theorbo.[76]
  2. ^ The different types of oboes referred to above are mostly called for at different points in each section. However, numbers 10, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19 and 21 in Part II call for 2 oboe d'amore and 2 oboe da caccia. This scoring was intended to symbolise the shepherds who are the subject of the second part. It is a reference to the pastoral music tradition of shepherds playing shawm-like instruments at Christmas. Similarly, the pastoral sinfony in Handel's Messiah (1741) is known as the 'Pifa' after the Italian piffero or piffaro, similar to the shawm and an ancestor of the oboe.

Parts and numbers

Each section combines choruses (a pastoral Sinfonia opens Part II instead of a chorus), chorales and from the soloists recitatives, ariosos and arias.

By notational convention the recitatives are in common time.

Part I

Part I: For the First Day of Christmas
No.   Key Time First line Scoring Source - Audio
1 Chorus D major 3/8 Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, strings (violin I, II, viola) and continuo (cello, violone, organ and bassoon) BWV 214: Chorus, Tönet, ihr Pauken!
2 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit Continuo Luke 2:1-6
3 Recitative (alto) Nun wird mein liebster Bräutigam 2 oboe d'amore, continuo
4 Aria (alto) A min 3/8 Bereite dich, Zion, mit zärtlichen Trieben Oboe d'amore I, violin I, continuo BWV 213: Aria, Ich will dich nicht hören
5 Chorale E-Phrygian[77][78] Common Wie soll ich dich empfangen 2 flutes, 2 oboes, strings and continuo "Wie soll ich dich empfangen", v. 1 (Paul Gerhardt, 1653); Zahn 5385a (Hans Leo Hassler, 1601)[79]
6 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und sie gebar ihren ersten Sohn Continuo Luke 2:7
7 Chorale (sopranos)

Recitative (bass)

G major 3/4
Common
Er ist auf Erden kommen arm

Wer will die Liebe recht erhöhn

2 oboe d'amore, continuo "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ", v. 6 (Martin Luther, 1524); Zahn 1947 (Wittenberg 1524)[80][81]
8 Aria (bass) D major 2/4 Großer Herr und starker König Trumpet I, flute I, strings, continuo BWV 214: Aria, Kron und Preis gekrönter Damen
9 Chorale D major Common Ach mein herzliebes Jesulein! 3 trumpets, timpani, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, strings and continuo (cello, violone, organ and bassoon) "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her", v. 13 (Martin Luther, 1535); Zahn 346 (Martin Luther, 1539)[82]

Part II

Part II: For the Second Day of Christmas
No.   Key Time First line Scoring Source - Audio
10 Sinfonia G major 12/8 -- 2 flutes, 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo
11 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend Continuo Luke 2:8-9
12 Chorale G major Common Brich an, o schönes Morgenlicht 2 flutes, 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist", v. 9 (Johann Rist, 1641); Zahn 5741 (Johann Schop, 1641)[83]
13 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor; Angel, soprano) Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen
Fürchtet euch nicht
Strings, continuo Luke 2:10-11
14 Recitative (bass) Was Gott dem Abraham verheißen 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo
15 Aria (tenor) E minor 3/8 Frohe Hirten, eilt, ach eilet Flute I, continuo BWV 214: Aria, Fromme Musen! meine Glieder
16 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor)[II 1] Und das habt zum Zeichen Continuo Luke 2:12
17 Chorale C major Common Schaut hin! dort liegt im finstern Stall 2 flutes, 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo "Schaut, schaut, was ist für Wunder dar", v. 8 (Paul Gerhardt, 1667); Zahn 346 (Martin Luther, 1539)[84]
18 Recitative (bass) So geht denn hin! 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, continuo
19 Aria (alto) G maj/ 2/4 Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh' Flute I (colla parte an octave above the alto soloist throughout), 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo BWV 213: Aria, Schlafe, mein Liebster, und pflege der Ruh
20 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und alsobald war da bei dem Engel Continuo Luke 2:13
21 Chorus G major Split Common (2/2) Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe 2 flutes, 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo Luke 2:14
22 Recitative (bass) So recht, ihr Engel, jauchzt und singet Continuo
23 Chorale G major 12/8 Wir singen dir in deinem Heer 2 flutes, 2 oboe d'amore, 2 oboe da caccia, strings, continuo "Wir singen dir, Immanuel", v. 2 (Paul Gerhardt, 1656); Zahn 346 (Martin Luther, 1539)[85]
  1. ^ In some performances sung by the Angel (soprano).

Part III

Part III: For the Third Day of Christmas
No.   Key Time First line Scoring Source - Audio
24 Chorus D major 3/8 Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen Trumpet I, II, III, timpani, flute I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo BWV 214: Chorus, Blühet, ihr Linden in Sachsen, wie Zedern
25 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und da die Engel von ihnen gen Himmel fuhren Continuo Luke 2:15
26 Chorus A major 3/4 Lasset uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem Flute I, II, oboe d'amore I, II, strings, continuo
27 Recitative (bass) Er hat sein Volk getröst't Flute I, II, continuo
28 Chorale D major Common Dies hat er alles uns getan Flute I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ", v. 7 (Martin Luther, 1524); Zahn 1947 (Wittenberg 1524)[80][81]
29 Duet (soprano, bass) A major 3/8 Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen Oboe d'amore I, II, continuo BWV 213: Aria, Ich bin deine, du bist meine
30 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und sie kamen eilend Continuo Luke 2:16-19
31 Aria (alto) D maj/ 2/4 Schließe, mein Herze, dies selige Wunder Violin solo, continuo
32 Recitative (alto) Ja, ja! mein Herz soll es bewahren Flute I, II, continuo
33 Chorale G major Common Ich will dich mit Fleiß bewahren Flute I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo "Fröhlich soll mein Herze springen", v. 15 (Paul Gerhardt, 1653); Zahn 6461 (Georg Ebeling, 1666)[86]
34 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und die Hirten kehrten wieder um Continuo Luke 2:20
35 Chorale F minor Common Seid froh, dieweil Flute I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo "Laßt Furcht und Pein", v. 4 (Christoph Runge, 1653); Zahn 2072 (Kaspar Füger, 1593)[87]
24 Chorus da capo D major 3/8 Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen Trumpet I, II, III, timpani, flute I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo BWV 214: Chorus, Blühet, ihr Linden in Sachsen, wie Zedern

Part IV

Part IV: For New Year's Day (Feast of the Circumcision)
No.   Key Time First line Scoring Source
36 Chorus 3/8 Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben Horns I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo BWV 213: Chorus, Lasst uns sorgen, lasst uns wachen
37 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und da acht Tage um waren Continuo Luke 2:21
38 Recitative (bass)
Arioso (sopr./bass)
Immanuel, o süßes Wort
Strings, continuo  
39 Aria (soprano & 'Echo' soprano) C major 6/8 Flößt, mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen Oboe I solo, continuo BWV 213: Aria, Treues Echo dieser Orten
40 Recitative (bass)
Arioso (soprano)
Wohlan! dein Name soll allein
Jesu, meine Freud' und Wonne
Strings, continuo  
41 Aria (tenor) D minor Common Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben Violin I, II, continuo BWV 213: Aria, Auf meinen Flügeln sollst du schweben
42 Chorale F major 3/4 Jesus richte mein Beginnen Horns I, II, oboe I, II, strings, continuo Words: Johann von Rist, 1642

Part V

Part V: For the First Sunday in the New Year[V 1]
No.   Key Time First line Scoring Source
43 Chorus A maj/ 3/4 Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen Oboe d'amore I, II, strings, continuo  
44 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Da Jesus geboren war zu Bethlehem Continuo Matthew 2:1
45 Chorus
Recitative (alto)
Chorus
D major Common Wo ist der neugeborne König der Juden[V 2]
Sucht ihn in meiner Brust
Wir haben seinen Stern gesehen
Oboe d'amore I, II, strings, continuo BWV 247: St Mark Passion, Chorus,
Pfui dich, wie fein zerbrichst du den Tempel[40]
46 Chorale A major Common Dein Glanz all' Finsternis verzehrt Oboe d'amore I, II, strings, continuo Words: Georg Weissel, 1642
47 Aria (bass) F minor 2/4 Erleucht' auch meine finstre Sinnen Oboe d'amore I solo, organ senza continuo BWV 215: Aria, Durch die von Eifer entflammeten Waffen
48 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Da das der König Herodes hörte Continuo Matthew 2:3
49 Recitative (alto) Warum wollt ihr erschrecken Strings, continuo  
50 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und ließ versammeln alle Hohenpriester Continuo Matthew 2:4-6
51 Trio (sopr., alto, ten.) B minor 2/4 Ach! wann wird die Zeit erscheinen? Violin I solo, continuo unknown
52 Recitative (alto) Mein Liebster herrschet schon Continuo  
53 Chorale A major Common Zwar ist solche Herzensstube Oboe d'amore I, II, strings, continuo Words: Johann Franck, 1655
  1. ^ Part V is meant to be performed on the Sunday between New Year's Day and Epiphany on 6 January; in some years there is no such day, e.g in 2017, 2018 & 2019.
  2. ^ Matthew 2:2

Part VI

Part VI: For the Feast of Epiphany
No.   Key Time First line Scoring Source
54 Chorus D major 3/8 Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben Trumpet I, II, III, timpani, oboe I, II, strings, continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata)
55 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor; Herod, bass) Da berief Herodes die Weisen heimlich

Ziehet hin und forschet fleißig
Continuo Matthew 2:7-8
56 Recitative (soprano) Du Falscher, suche nur den Herrn zu fällen Strings, continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata)
57 Aria (soprano) A maj/ 3/4 Nur ein Wink von seinen Händen Oboe d'amore I, strings, continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata)
58 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Als sie nun den König gehöret hatten Continuo Matthew 2:9-11
59 Chorale G major Common Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier Oboe I, II, strings, continuo Words: Paul Gerhardt, 1656
60 Recitative (Evangelist, tenor) Und Gott befahl ihnen im Traum' Continuo Matthew 2:12
61 Recitative (tenor) So geht! Genug, mein Schatz geht nicht von hier Oboe d'amore I, II, continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata)
62 Aria (tenor) B minor 2/4 Nun mögt ihr stolzen Feinde schrecken Oboe d'amore I, II, continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata)
63 Recitative (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) Was will der Höllen Schrecken nun Continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata)
64 Chorale D major Common Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen Trumpet I, II, III, timpani, oboe I, II, strings, continuo BWV 248a (lost church cantata); Words: Georg Werner, 1648

Reception

The first English-language monography on the Christmas Oratorio was published in 2004.[88] It was a translation of a 2002 Dutch-language study by Ignace Bossuyt [fr; nl].[89]

Recordings

References

  1. ^ a b Markus Rathey. 2016. Bach's Major Vocal Works. Music, Drama, Liturgy, Yale University Press
  2. ^ Bach Digital Source D-LEm I. B. 2a
  3. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 00079
  4. ^ Bach Digital Work 00186
  5. ^ Bach Digital Works 00303 and 00297
  6. ^ Bach Digital Work 00055
  7. ^ Bach Digital Work 00080
  8. ^ Bach Digital Work 00230
  9. ^ Bach Digital Work 00187
  10. ^ Bach Digital Work 00081
  11. ^ Bach Digital Work 00116
  12. ^ Bach Digital Work 11391
  13. ^ Bach Digital Work 00148
  14. ^ Bach Digital Work 00163
  15. ^ Bach Digital Work 00149
  16. ^ Bach Digital Work 00056
  17. ^ Bach Digital Work 00150
  18. ^ Bach Digital Work 00135
  19. ^ Bach Digital Work 00072
  20. ^ Bach Digital Work 00185
  21. ^ Bach Digital Work 00035
  22. ^ Bach Digital Work 00018
  23. ^ Bach Digital Work 00074
  24. ^ Dürr & Jones 2006, pp. pp. 36-43.
  25. ^ Georg Christian Lehms. Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer in einem gantzen Jahr-Gange Andächtiger Betrachtungen/ über die gewöhnlichen Sonn- und Festtags-Texte GOtt zu Ehren und der Darmstättischen Schloß-Capelle zu seiner Früh- und Mittags-Erbauung. Darmstadt: 1711.
  26. ^ Bach Digital Work 00318
  27. ^ Bach Digital Work 00317
  28. ^ Bach Digital Works 00235 and 00234
  29. ^ Bach Digital Work 00245
  30. ^ Bach Digital Works 00206 and 00255
  31. ^ Glöckner 2009.
  32. ^ (in German) Irmgard Scheitler. Deutschsprachige Oratorienlibretti: von den Anfängen bis 1730. Schöningh, 2005. ISBN 3506729551, pp. 338-345
  33. ^ Samantha Owens, Barbara M. Reul, Janice B. Stockigt Music at German Courts, 1715-1760: Changing Artistic Priorities. Boydell & Brewer, 2011 (reprint 2015). ISBN 9781783270583, p. 204
  34. ^ Texte zu einem Weihnachts-Oratorium 1728 - Texte zu einem Weihnachts-Oratorium 1728 at the Wayback Machine (archived 17 September 2016) at www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/mielorth/stoelzel
  35. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 01318
  36. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 00269
  37. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 00270
  38. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 00271
  39. ^ Bach Digital Work 00315
  40. ^ a b Werner Breig, sleeve notes to John Eliot Gardiner's recording of the Christmas Oratorio (Deutsche Grammophon Archiv, 4232322, 1987)
  41. ^ Hofmann 2005.
  42. ^ Wessel 2015, p. 47.
  43. ^ Sortable Index of the Chorales by J.S. Bach at www.bach-chorales.com
  44. ^ Bach Digital Work 11270
  45. ^ Terry 1915.
  46. ^ Dürr & Jones 2006, p. 105.
  47. ^ Robert Chambers. Popular rhymes of Scotland, pp. 12-13 (1870)
  48. ^ Sting (2009). If on a Winter's Night..., track 11.
  49. ^ a b Zahn IV, p. 78.
  50. ^ a b Zahn VI, p. 566-567.
  51. ^ BWV 248(3).33(10) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  52. ^ Zahn IV, p. 75.
  53. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 11264
  54. ^ a b Rathey 2016, p. 127.
  55. ^ a b Bach Digital Work 11266
  56. ^ Melamed 1995, pp. 38-39 and 102.
  57. ^ Dürr & Kobayashi 1998, p. 304.
  58. ^ Bach Digital Work 11279
  59. ^ Bach Digital Work 11280
  60. ^ Bach Digital Work 11260
  61. ^ Bach Digital Work 11261
  62. ^ Bach Digital Work 11281
  63. ^ Bach Digital Work 11262
  64. ^ Bach Digital Work 11263
  65. ^ Bach Digital Work 11265
  66. ^ Bach Digital Work 11267
  67. ^ Bach Digital Work 11268
  68. ^ Bach Digital Work 11269
  69. ^ Alfred Dürr, sleeve notes to Nikolaus Harnoncourt's first recording of the Christmas Oratorio (Warner Das Alte Werk, 2564698540, 1972, p. 10) and repeated in the notes to Harnoncourt's 2nd recording of the work (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 88697112252, 2007, p. 22)
  70. ^ a b Christoph Wolff, sleeve notes to Ton Koopman's recording of the Christmas Oratorio (Warner Erato, 0630-14635-2, 1997)
  71. ^ Background note by Neil Jenkins on his translation of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, 1999
  72. ^ a b Sleeve notes to Philip Pickett's recording of the Christmas Oratorio (Decca, 458 838, 1997)
  73. ^ Das Alte Werk (Warner), 2564698540 (1973, re-released 2008)
  74. ^ Decca (Philips), 4759155 (1987, re-released 2007)
  75. ^ Harmonia Mundi, HMX 2901630.31 (1997, re-released 2004)
  76. ^ Channel Classics Records, CCS SA 20103 (2003)
  77. ^ Dürr, Alfred (2005). The Cantatas of J. S. Bach. Translated by Richard D. P. Jones. Oxford University Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-19-816707-5.
  78. ^ Rolf Wischnath (2015). "Eine Predigt über den Prediger: Zu Johann Sebastian Bachs Weihnachtsoratorium". In Marco Hofheinz; Georg Plasger; Annegreth Schilling (eds.). Verbindlich werden: Reformierte Existenz in ökumenischer Begegnung (in German). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 122. ISBN 9783788729097.
  79. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(1)/5 at www.bach-chorales.com.
  80. ^ a b BWV2a (1998), p. 474.
  81. ^ a b Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(3)/28(5) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  82. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(1)/9 at www.bach-chorales.com.
  83. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(2)/12(3) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  84. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(2)/17(8) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  85. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(2)/23(14) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  86. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(3)/33(10) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  87. ^ Luke Dahn (2018). BWV 248(3)/35(12) at www.bach-chorales.com.
  88. ^ Butt 2006.
  89. ^ Bossuyt 2004, p. 9.

Cited sources

External links


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