Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Chorale Melodies: Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation

Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works
Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem (Puer natus in Bethlehem)

Melody & Text | Variant of the CM | Use of the CM by Bach | Use of the CM by other composers

 

Melody & Text: Zahn: 192b | EKG

Wilhelm Thomas and Konrad Amerln report, in their book “Das Weihnachtslied” (Bärenreiter, 1932), that it was customary to sing a trope at the end of the Benedicamus where the key words “Puer natus” appear in the 3rd mass in the service on the 1st day of Christmas. This tradition can be traced back into the 13th century. The trope introducing the addition of “Puer natus in Bethlehem” is seen by musicologists as an attempt to modernize and make more ‘folksy’ the chanting of the mass. This trope is included in a group of similar tropes such as “Puer nobis nascitur”, “In dulci jubilo” and “Resonet in laudibus”, more commonly known in German as “Joseph, lieber Joseph mein”.

The first German versified version appeared in 1439 as given by Heinrich von Laufenberg. An early record of the melody with the Latin text is by an unknown master as used in a 5-pt setting (including another chorale as well in a quasi-quodlibet form) from 1542:

The earliest combination of German text and the already existing melody is from 1545.

Some other early instances of the melody appear in settings by:

Michael Praetorius: 4-pt. setting (1609):

Samuel Scheidt: 4-pt. setting (Görlitz, 1650):

(see: further settings by Scheidt below)

Bach may have been acquainted with the Gotha hymnal from 1715 where the melody appears thus.

 

Variant of the CM: Zahn: 192a

A variant form of Zahn 192b given above is: Zahn 192a
The chorale text here is a paraphrased-verse chorale text by Martin Luther and is based upon Luke 2. The two chorale texts, “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her” and “Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar”, are quite similar in content just as the melody for “Puer natus in Bethlehem” has much in common with the melody for “Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar”.

A version of the chorale melody which Bach may have consulted and used (with some minor changes) is that found in the Gotha hymnal from 1715:

 

Use of the Chorale Melody by Bach:

Text: Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem | EKG:
Author: Anon (1543)

Ver

Work

Mvt.

Year

Br

RE

KE

Di

BC

Score

Music Examples

4

BWV 65

Mvt. 2

1724

12

302

12

-

F169
A27:5

PDF

Mvt. 2 (MG) [midi] | Mvt. 2 (Leusink) [ram]

BWV 65/2: Breitkopf 12 (Title: Puer natus in Bethlehem).

 

Untexted:

Ver

Work

Mvt.

Year

Br

RE

KE

Di

BC

Score

Music Examples

-

BWV 603

-

1713/15

-

-

-

-

K32

   

BWV 603: Puer natus in Bethlehem, Orgelbüchlein No. 5.

 

Variant of the CM:

Untexted:

Ver

Work

Mvt.

Year

Br

RE

KE

Di

BC

Score

Music Examples

-

BWV 607

-

1713/15

-

-

-

-

K39

   

BWV 603: Puer natus in Bethlehem, Orgelbüchlein No. 5.

 

Use of the Chorale Melody by other composers:

Johannes Stomius, vulgo Mulinus (1502-1562)
Puer natus in Bethlehem, 3-pt. vocal setting

Andreas Raselius [Raesel] (c1563-1602):
Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, Chorale Motet for 5 voices

David Palladius (Active years: 1572-1599):
Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, Chorale Motet for 5 voices

Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630):
Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem for 6 voices

Paul Siefert (1586-1666):
Chorale Variations for Instruments on Puer natus in Bethlehem

Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654):
Puer natus in Bethlehem for 8 voices
Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem for 6 voices and bc

Georg Victorinus (active years: 1591-1626):
Puer natus in Bethlehem, 4-pt. setting

Matthias Spiegler (1595 - after 1631):
Puer natus in Bethlehem, 4-pt. Chorale Motet for 2 Sopranos, 1 Tenor and 1 “Baritono”

Pater S. J. Jakob Gippenbusch (1612-1664):
Psalteriolum harmonicum published in Köln in 1642 contains Puer natus in Bethlehem, 4-pt. setting with bc (organ) accompaniment.

Anon (1625):
The collection Cento Davidicus from 1625 contains an anonymous 4-pt. setting of Puer natus in Bethlehem in both Latin and German.

Dietrich Buxtehude (c1637-1707):
Puer natus in Bethlehem, Chorale Prelude for Organ, BuxWV 217

Johann Schelle (1648-1701)
Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, Cantata for 2 Clarini, Timpani, 2 Violini, 2 Violette, 2 Cornetti, 2 Tromboni, 5 Voices and Organo.
While the
Martin Luther text is generally associated with Puer natus in Bethlehem, and one might assume that Schelle based his cantata using that text on that tune, he actually used the tune, Vom Himmel hoch, which shares a meter with the previous tune. Thus, the text fits both tunes. For further reference, see the Concordia Publishing House modern edition of the work, edited by Dale F. Voelker and published in 1990 (Concoredia 97-6001).
Contributed by Mark Alan Filbert, MM, MSM, Cantor - Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado, USA (December 20, 2008)

Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663-1712):
Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar, Cantata for S, A., T., B., 4 voices. in ripieno, 4 Clarini, Tamburi, 2 Violini, 3 Violette, Bassoon, bc. (at the latest by 1697)

Georg Friedrich Kauffmann (1679-1735):
Puer natus in Bethlehem, Chorale Prelude for Organ (Leipzig, 1733)

Gregor Joseph Werner (1693-1766):
Puer natus in Bethlehem for 4pt. Chorus, Violin and Viola da Gamba

 

Sources: NBA, vols. III/2.1 & 2.2 in particular [Bärenreiter, 1954 to present] and the BWV ("Bach Werke Verzeichnis") [Breitkopf & Härtel, 1998]
The PDF files of the Chorales were contributed by Margaret Greentree J.S. Bach Chorales
Software: Capella 2004 Software, version 5.1.
Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (January 2006)

Chorales BWV 250-438
Recordings | General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Chorales in Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Hidden Chorale Melody Allusions | Passion Chorale
Individual Recordings:
Hilliard - Morimur | Chorales - Matt | Chorales - Rilling | Preludi ai Corali - Quartetto Italiani di Viola Da Gamba
References:
Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438
Texts & English Translations of Chorales:
Sorted by Title
Chorale Melodies:
Sorted by Title | Explanation
MIDI files of the Chorales:
Cantatas BWV 1-197 | Other Vocal Works BWV 225-248 | Chorales BWV 250-438
Articles:
The Origin of the Texts of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Origin of the Melodies of the Chorales [Schweitzer] | The Chorale in the Church Service [Schweitzer] | Choral / Chorale [Terry]
Hymnals used by Bach | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Links to other Sites about the Chorales

Chorale Melodies: Sorted by Title | 371 4-Part Chorales sorted by Breitkopf Number | Explanation

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ύApril 24, 2006 ύ22:44:26