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Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
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Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for Feast of Annunciation of Mary


Readings: Epistle: Isaiah 7: 10-16; Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

Motets and Chorales for the Feast of Annunciation of Mary


Cantata BWV 1: Annunciation Works, Chorales, Meanings

William Hoffman wrote (December 1, 2012):
Bach's Annunciation performance calendar is a fascinating study of his motives, methods, and opportunities for music he presented on the Feast of the Annunciation. It shows eight different cantatas involving only two original works, BWV 182 (double duty for Palm Sunday, six performances) and Chorale Cantata BWV 1, with one lost cantata (Anh. 199), and a Picander text for Annunciation 1729 that Bach did not set. Meanwhile, there are five works of colleagues with strong Annunciation associations: a lost Johann Ludwig Bach cantata probably presented in 1726, a Johann Friedrich Fasch work probably presented in 1732, two Gottfried Heinrich Stözel cantatas performed in the second half of the 1730s, and a Georg Philipp Telemann piece once attributed to Bach and possibly performed by him with no established date.

The diversity of music for the Annunciation and Conception of Jesus, with appropriate biblical and poetic texts and popular chorales, suggests that while Bach left little original music, he did present acceptable works of well-known colleagues that explored various facets of this crucial Lutheran festival that fell during the austere Leipzig closed period of Lent. Themes and teachings range from the Messianic prophecies, Jesus' conception and birth, and Christ's Passion and death, to the dual nature, the so-called Christus Paradox of truly man and truly God embodied in Christian belief. Other themes are the "Wedding of the Soul and Jesus" and the importance of the Nicene Creed passage that begins the affirmation of Jesus Christ.

Annunciation Cantatas

1. Cantata BWV 182 "Himmelskönig, sei willkommen" (Heavenly King, be welcomed) was premiered in Weimar, on March 25, 1714, when the Feast of the Annunication fell on Palm Sunday. It was Bach's most-often repeated cantata, documented reperformances at least five times: 1717-23 (twice, not in Weimar), 1724, 1728, and after 1728. Details are found at BCW, Cantata BWV 182,

2. Cantata BWV Anh 199, "Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger" (Behold, a virgin is pregnant) which was introduced in Leipzig probably at Annunciation, March 25, 1724 (Tuesday) on a double bill with a new version of Cantata BWV 182. The music is lost but the surviving text shows music with two popular chorales, "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How brightly shines the morning star) and "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" (Praise be to you, Jesus Christ). Details are found at BCW,

3. Chorale Cantata BWV 1, "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" was introduced at on March 25, 1725 (Palm Sunday), when the Feast of Annunciation again fell on Palm Sunday). Details are found at BCW,

4. A presumed J. L. Bach Cantata, "Ich habe meinen Konig eingesetzt auf Zion, meinem heiligen Berg." (I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion, Psalm 2:6), for the Feast of the Annunciation, is not extant. The biblical dictum is the opening Old Testament chorus in the Rudolstadt cantata cycle text (1704/26). Psalm 2, is best known for four movements in Handel's <Messiah>: No. 40, bass aria, "Why do the nations so furiously rage together" (Verses 1-2); No. 41, chorus, "Let us break their bonds asunder" (Stanza 3); No. 42, tenor recitative, "He that dwelleth in Heaven" (Stanza 4); and No. 43, tenor aria, "Thou shalt break them" (Stanza 9). A Stözel cantata with the same dictum, "Ich habe meinen Konig eingesetzt," was composed in 1713 for Advent Sunday but the music is not extant

J. L. Bach probably set the Rudolstadt text and Sebastian performed the cantata since it would have been the seventh in 12 consecutive cantatas Bach presented in 1726, beginning with the Feast of the Purification (February 2), JLB-9, "Mache dich auf werde mich" (Change yourself, become light). Sebastian also performed Cantatas JLB-17, "Siehe, ich will meinen Engle senden" for the Feast of John the Baptist (June 24), and JLB 13, "Der Herr wird ein Neues im Lande erschaffen" for the Feast of the Visitation (July 2).

[4a. There was no cantata presented on Annunciation, Tuesday, March 25, 1727, since Bach was completing the music for the first performance of his St. Matthew Passion on Good Friday, April 11.]

5. Picander Cycle Cantata P-27, "Der Herr ist mit mir" (The Lord is with me/on my side, Psalm 118:6) was appropriate for the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1729 (Friday). It closes with No. 6, the Christmas chorale, "Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich" (Praise God, you Christians, all together, Stanza 1). No performance of any music is documented.

6. J. F. Fasch's Cantata Fwv D:G 3, "Gottes und Marien Kind" (God's and Mary's Child) probably was performed by Bach on Tuesday, March 25, 1732. The extant source is score copy of Johann Ludwig Dietel (Bach Main Copyist F), according Andreas Glöckner, "Neuerkenntnisse zu JSBs Auffürungskalendar 1729-35" (New Knowledge of JSB's Performance Calendar), <Bach Jahrbuch 1981>: 67).

7-8. G. H. Stözel's two cantatas cycles were probably performed by Bach in the second half of the 1730s. On Annunciation, March 25, 1736, Bach probably performed a Stözel two-part cantata, "Er soll Nazarener heißen" (He shall be called Nazarene, Matthew 2:23), for the "Fest Mariae Empfängnis" (Festival of Mary's Immaculate Conception), that is not extant, as part of the cycle "Saitenspiele testeddes Hertzens" (Music Playing of the Heart), text by Benjamin Schmolck, with two chorale settings not identified. Again on March 25, perhaps 1737, Bach also may have performed a Stözel two-part cantata, "Ich habe dich zu Lichte der Heiden gemacht" (I have made thee the light to the heathens, Isaiah 49:6) from the cantata cycle "Das Namenbuch Christi," (Book of Names of Christ), using a Schmolck text. No musical source with the presumed chorales is extant.

9. Telemann Cantata BWV Anh 156 "Herr Christ der einge Gottessohn" (Lord Jesus Christ, God's only son), formerly attributed to Bach, is catalogued TVWV 1:732. It is not known if it were performed by J.S. Bach.

Annunciation Chorale Usages

Bach's Feast of Annunciation chorale usages and associations embrace connecting hymns related to similar thematic events in the church year. This is because there were no chorales assigned specifically to the Feast of the Annunciation in Bach's Leipzig hymn book, <Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> (NLGB) of 1682. In Bach's time in Weimar and Leipzig, the strongest associated Annunciation hymns were:

1. "Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod" (Jesus suffering, pain and death), Paul Stockman's 1636 Passion hymn of "Jesus Suffering and Death" with the dual nature of Incarnation and Passion, that in Bach's time was sung on Palm Sunday preceding Holy Week and Good Friday and found in Bach presentations of the Passions of John, Luke, and Mark, BWV 245-47. Another related Passion chorale is "Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott" (Lord Jesus Christ, truly man and God) set as Chorale Cantata BWV 127 for Estomihi Sunday, February 11, 1725, the work that preceded Bach's Chorale Cantata BWV 1 for Annunciation on March 25.

2. "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How brightly shines the morning star), Otto Niccolai's 1599 <omne tempore wedding hymn of the human Soul and the divine Jesus under the hymnbook heading "God's Word and the Christian Church," that isBach's most versatile chorale in cantatas for Advent, Ascension, Trinity 20, and Pentecost and now is associated with Christmas.

3. "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" (Praise be to you, Jesus Christ), Martin Luther's 1524 Christmas hymn that Bach used in Christmas Cantatas BWV and the Christmas Oratorio.

4. "Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn" is a Catechism Justification chorale (NLGB No. 231 (Zahn melody 4297a). Bach's uses of only of Stanzas 1 and 5 are in Cantata BWV 22/5 (S.5, Estomihi), Chorale Cantata BWV 96 (S.1, 5; Trinity 18), BWV 132/6 (S.5, Advent 4), and BWV 164/6 (S.5, Trinity 13). See BCW, "Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 13th Sunday after Trinity" [

Feast of the Annunciation/Conception/Incarnation

Since the Reformation, the three special Marian Festivals honoring the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother, were celebrated as festivals of Jesus Christ and were observed with festive main service music during Bach's Leipzig tenure. In particular, the Lucan Gospel readings are part of the Vespers evening and Compline night prayer services of the Canonical Hours or Offices. The Feast of the Purification of Mary (February 2) became the Feast of the Presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple (Darstellung [status of] Jesu) concluding with Simeon's canticle (Luke 2:29-32): "Now, Lord, let thy servant depart" (<Nunc dimittis>). The Feast of Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary (March 25) became the Feast of the Conception of Jesus (Luke 1:31) (born nine months later on December 25), "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS." The Feast of Mary's Visitation (July 2) to her sister, Elizabeth, became the Magnificat (Luke 1:46), the Canticle of Praise, "My soul doth magnify the Lord."

Previous BCW Discussion on Annunciation

Ed Myskowski (BCW) wrote (March 26, 2007):

The First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Today the Church [RC] celebrates that day when the Archangel Gabriel requested Our Lady to be the Mother of God. Mary accepts and declares herself to be the handmaid of the Lord.

The Annunciation is one of the three most ancient feasts of Our Lady (with Purification and Visitation). The feast probably dates from the Council of Ephesus in 431, when Our Lady was proclaimed the Mother of God. This proclamation was because of a heresy which denied Mary's Divine Motherhood. It was also the Council of Ephesus which added the following words to the Hail Mary: "Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen."

This feast has been known by many names over the years including: "the Feast of the Incarnation," "the beginning of the Redemption," "the Conception of Christ" and "the Announcing of the Christ." <end quote>
BCW, Events in the Church Year, Part 3,

(March 26, 2007):
Marian Feasts and Cantatas (March 26, 2007)

Paul T. McCain wrote: "Lutheranism, unlike other Protestant branches, did not reject the historic and traditional Marian feast days."
Douglas Cowling wrote:
"It appears that Luther, ever attuned to popular sentiment, reduced the five traditional Marian feasts to two, the Annunciation (March 25) and the Visitation (July 2) -- Bach was required to provide cantatas on the two days even when they occurred on weekdays. Luther had no problem with these feasts because they were scripturally-based. The other three, the Conception (Dec 8), Nativity (Sept 8) and Assumption (August 15) were basically suppressed primarily because they had become a polemic locus in Catholic-Lutheran debate about the person of the Virgin Mary. It has been suggested that St. Michael the Archangel on Sept 29 was given special emphasis to compensate for the popular devotion and fairs associated with August 15. It also seems to have collected the devotional piety around the harvest. The cantatas written by Bach for Michelmas are certainly among the grandest he ever wrote."

Ed Myskowski wrote (March 26, 2007):
"Incidentally, BWV 182, which is listed in some places as Palm Sunday/Annunciation was written in 1714 at Weimar for exactly the same coincidence as occurred in 1725 [and 1736]: Palm Sunday on Mar. 25, but in the case of BWV 182 the text is specific to Palm Sunday. Just the opposite applies for BWV 127. It appears that the only surviving cantata specific to the Annunciation is BWV 127 (Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott, (Lord Jesus Christ, truly man and God), suggesting (to me, anyway) that it must have had a lot of subsequent performances, depending on the resolution of the question of exactly when music was permitted for Mar. 25, the Annunciation, and what alternate music may have been lost" [].

Lukan Series of Announcements, Canticles of Praise

"Annunciation" means "announcement." The term in the readings refers specifically to the so-called Marian Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, in the Catholic tradition, the announcement of the Incarnation of the Virgin Mary. The term annunciation, or announcement, also is applied to various announcements or activities and related canticles of praise in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. Specifically, the Catholic Bible, Catholic Church Extension, contains the following sequence: Gabriel's Announcement of the conception of John the Baptist to his father, Zechariah (1:11-21); Gabriel's announcement six months later (March 25) to Mary of the conception of Jesus to (1:26-38); Mary's immediate Visitation to Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah Canticle (1:46-56) and <Magnificat>; Zechariah's prophetic Canticle on the birth of John the Baptist (June 24, 1:67-79); the Angel's Announcement to the Shepherds of the Birth of Jesus (Christmas, December 25, 2:8-14); and Jesus' Presentation (announcement, February 2, 40 days after Christmas) in the Temple with Simeon's Canticle, 2:22-32.

While Mary's Visitation to Elizabeth and <Magnificat> occurred immediately after her conception (March 25), the event originally was celebrated on July 2. Here is the dating: "The old date of July 2 goes back to 1389 when Pope Urban VI established it as a feast to be kept throughout the Western Church. It was moved to May 31 in 1969 by Pope Paul VI in the revision of the calendar. The date chosen was May 31st, which was already the minor commemoration of Mary as Queen of the Apostles. It would round out the month of May, which is particularly set aside for devotion to the Virgin. It would also bring the celebration in line with the timing of Christmas (six months before) and Annunciation (three months after) for Mary and for Elizabeth, it would coincide with the conception (six months after) and nativity (three months before) of John the Baptist," says Father Timothy Matkin, "Timoetheos Prologizes" (

Palm Sunday coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, three times when Bach presented service cantatas: 1714, Cantata BWV 182; 1725, Chorale Cantata BWV 1; and 1736, possible repeat of Cantata BWV 182 (second version).

"Mariä Verkündigung" (Feast of Annunciation of Mary)
Gospel Readings: Epistle: Isaiah 7:10-16 (Behold, a virgin shall conceive; Gospel: Luke 1:26-38 (Gabriel prophesies to Mary, Elizabeth), BCW,

Incarnation, Passion, Christus Paradox

Cantata BWV 182, BCW Discussion (Part 3) in the Week of May 23, 2010
Douglas Cowling wrote (May 23, 2010):

The juxtaposition of the themes of the Incarnation and the Passion inspired Bach's imagination, not unlike the 17th century English mystic, John Donne who wrote a poem, "The Annunciation and Passion," on the occurrenof Good Friday and the Annunciaton (see below).

" ... this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away"

The concept of the "Christus Paradox" is best expressed in the 20th century hymn, "Let all mortal flesh keep silence," set to the Byzantine Greek Liturgy of St. James and the 17th century French carol, "Picardy" (Wikipedia, "Christus Paradox" is a 1991 "Chorale Variations for SATB and organ, with the text of the late Sylvia Dunstan (incipit, "You, Lord, are both Lamb and Shepherd") and "Picardy" music arranged by Alfred Fedak (GIA Publications G5463).

Throughout Christian history, writers have explored the richness of what they perceive as the uniqueness of Jesus Christ through the study of Christology. Central to this concept are the two paradoxical doctrines of Jesus' nature in the gospels as Son of God (fully divine) and Son of Man (fully human) and the three states of Christ in the <kenosis> (emptying) parabola (descent-ascent) hymn of Phillippians 2:5-11 or Col. 1:15-20: pre-incarnational glory, death, and resurrection, says noted theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. in the article "Christus Paradox" (Calvin College, Grand Rapids MI, nd). Other paradoxical images include Jesus as lamb and shepherd, prince and slave, steward and servant.

Apostles, Nicene Creeds

While the concept of the Immaculate Conception and the Veneration of the Virgin Mary remain conflicting issues among Christians, the basic principle is established and affirmed in the two Christian Creeds generally affirmed by Catholics and mainstream Protestants.

+The Apostles Creed says, "I believe . . . in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary"; and

+The Nicene Creed says: "I believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,/ Begotten of his Father before all worlds,/ God of God, Light of Light,/ Very God of very God,/ Begotten, not made, / Being of one substance with the Father, / By whom all things were made; / Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven,/ And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, / And was made man . . ."

In Latin, the last part of the Nicene Creed text above reads: "Et incarnatus est de Spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine. Et homo factus est" (And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man). In Bach's setting of the Nicene Creed in the <B-Minor Mass>, this passage is a five-part chorus in old motet style but the source of the presumed contrafaction has not been found. Bach harmonized Luther's original, vernacular setting of the Creed, "Wir glauben all an einem Gott (We all believe in One God) the second stanza (Jesus Christ), BWV 437, with 32 measures in D Major in his complex style of the 1730s with full voicing, elaborate rhythm and chromaticism. The relevant text is: "Von Maria, der Jungfrauen, ist ein warer Mensch geboren durch den heiligen Geist" (Of Mary, the virgin, he is true man born through the Holy Spirit).

Cantata BWV 182

Two versions of Cantata BWV 182 exist: the Weimar shorter one in B-Flat Major for Palm Sunday and the longer one in G Major in Leipzig for the Feast of Annunciation. Of the documented six performances, the first three involve the Weimar setting and the last three in Leipzig. "The NBA KB I/8.1-2 [p. 123] indicates how different parts and different arrangement/selection of movements from this cantata BWV 182 resulted in at least six different performances during Bach's lifetime [Cantata BWV 182, Details, BCW]:
1st performance: March 25, 1714 - Weimar (B-Flat Major version]
2nd performance: 1717-1723 - Weimar (undatable, possibly performed away from the Weimar Court Chapel)
3rd performance: 1717-1723 - Weimar (undatable)
4th performance: March 25, 1724 - Leipzig [G Major version]
5th performance: March 21, 1728 - Leipzig (and possibly another performance using this particular arrangement later on in Leipzig)
6th performance: After 1728 with the date being uncertain - Leipzig (again using the 1728 version).
[Douglas Cowling wrote BCW, Cantata BWV 182 Third Discussion (May 23, 2010): If there was a sixth performance of the cantata after 1728, it could well have been in 1736 when Palm Sunday and Annunciation occurred again.]

The second and third performances of Cantata BWV 182 between 1717 and 1723 are still not documented but collateral evidence suggests that its music may have been performed at sacred services in the Köthen Court St. Agnes Church, required annually on December 10, Prince Leopold's birthday, and January 1 New Year's festival. Meanwhile, Bach presented newly-composed serenades for the court presentations on the same dates and these are documented. Further, surviving parts show that Bach reperformed all or sections of Weimar sacred Cantatas BWV 21, "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" (second version), and BWV 172, "Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten (C Major version). Like Cantata BWV 182, these two works are among Bach's most elaborate cantatas, and also may have served as works for his 1719 probe for the position of organist at Jakobikirche in Hamburg that Bach declined. This is documented in Stephen Daw's Appendix C, "List of music attributed to Bach's Köthen period (December 1717 to May 1723) on positive documentary and/or historical grounds" (pp. 217ff) in Friedrich Smend's <Bach in Köthen> (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1985.

The full version has eight movements involving a sinfonia, two choruses, a bass recitative-arioso, three successive arias (BAT), and a chorale chorus fantasia. The movements and their status are:
1. Sinfonia (tutti orchestra): sonata-concerto form (composed in Weimar);
2. Chorus (two-part da-capo form), "Heaven's King, be welcomed" (composed in Weimar, repeated as Mvt. 7);
3. Recitative-arioso (bass), "Behold, I come (Psalm 40:7-8, voice of Savior) (composed in Weimar;
4. Aria (free da-capo, bass & strings), "Mighty love, Great God's Son" (composed in Weimar);
5. Aria (alto, recorder, bc), "Put thyself under the Savior" (?revised in Leipzig);
6. Aria (free da-capo; tenor, bc), "Jesus, let me go with Thee" (?revised in Leipzig);
7. Chorale chorus (tutti), "Jesus, Thy Passion is joy" (Pachelbel form, composed in Leipzig, replaced repeat of opening chorus);
8. Chorus (da-capo, tutti), "So let us go in the Salem of Joy" (?originally composed for performances 2-3).

Movement 7 chorale: In Leipzig Bach set Paul Stockman's Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod" (Jesus, suffering, pain and death); Stanza 33, "Jesu, deine Passion/ Ist mir lauter Freude," (Jesus, your passion/ is for me pure joy") 1636. It is found in the NLGB as No. 77 under Passion hymns of "Jesus suffering and death." The melody (Zahn 6288) is by Melchior Vulpius (1609), "Jesu Kreutz, Leiden und Pein" (Jesus' Cross, Suffering and Pain). The same stanza and melody is found in the soprano canto insertion into the bass aria, "Himmel reiße, Welt erbebe" (Heaven tear, world shake; in the 1725 second version of the St. John Passion, BWV 245a(=245II/11(a) from Bach's1717 Weimar/Gotha Passion, as well as the closing pain chorale (No. 5) in the1726 Estomihi Cantata BWV 159, "Sehet, wir gehen hinauf gen Jerusalem). Other uses are the St. Luke Passion, BWV 246, and the St. Mark Passion, BWV 247/21(S.8). Organ chorale prelude setting, BWV Anh. 57, is now attributed to Johann Caspar Vogler, Anh III 172, Emans 115)

Lost Cantata BWV Anh. 199

Cantata BWV Anh 199, "Siehe, eine Jungfrau ist schwanger" (Leipzig, 1724? [double bill with BWV 182] survives only in the text; the music is lost [Details, BCW,}. Only the printed text survives, along with the text of Cantata BWV 22 for Quinquagesima Estomihi Sunday (February 20, 1724) in the collection of S. W. Dehn (1799-1856), found in Leningrad in 1938. It is quite possible that the librettist was the same as for Cantata 22, which originally served as the first part of Bach's successful Leipzig probe in early 1723. The poet has been designated as "Author A" by Albert Schweitzer and could be St. Thomas Pastor Christian Weiss Sr., Bach's probe host. The full text is found in Wolf Hobohm's "Neue `Texte zu Leipziger Kirchen-Musik" (<Bach Jahrbuch> 1973: 16-17).

The opening dictum, "Behold, a virgin is pregnant, is from Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." It is found as an alto recitative (No. 8) in Handel's "Messiah."

1. Chorus, "Siehe, ein Jungfrau ist schwanger, und wird einen Sohn gebähren, dein wird sie heissen Immanuel."

2. Aria, "Ihr frohen Lippen reget euch!" (Ye joyful lips, raise yourselves)

3. Chorale: Ei meine Perl', du werte Kron',
Wahr'r Gottes- und Mariensohn,
Ein hochgeborner König!
Mein Herz heißt dich ein Lilium,
Dein süßes Evangelium
Ist lauter Milch und Honig.
Ei mein Blümlein,
Hosianna, himmlisch Manna,
Das wir essen,
Deiner kann ich nicht vergessen!

Ah my pearl, my precious crown,
true son of God and Mary,
a king of most noble birth!
My heart calls you a lily,
your sweet gospel
is pure milk and honey.
Ah my dear flower,
hosanna, heavenly manna,
that we eat,
I cannot forget you!
[Philipp Nicolai: verse 2 of "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (details, see below, Cantata BWV 1);
English translation Francis Browne, BCW]

4. Recitative, "Wir Menschen waren weyland tod in Sünden" (We mortals were previously dead in sins)

5. Aria, "Nur, der Immanuel/ Schafft, daß das Freuden-Oel" (Only Emmanuel makes the oil of joy)

6. Chorale
Das hat er alles uns getan,
Sein' groß' Lieb' zu zeigen an.
Des freu' sich alle Christenheit
Und dank' ihm des in Ewigkeit.

He has done all this for us
to show his great love,
at this all Christendom rejoices
and thanks him for this in eternity.
[Martin Luther: verse 7 of "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" (Praise be to you, Jesus Christ) (Mvt. 6), NLGB No. 16, Christmas (Zahn melody1947); other Christmas usages: Cantata BWV 64/2 (S.7, Xmas 3), 91/6=64/2 alternate setting(S. 7, Xmas 1), 248/28; also BWV 604 (OB), 697 (Kirnberger), 722-23 (Misc.).]

Chorale Cantata BWV 1

Chorale Cantata BWV 1 is based on Otto Nicolai's "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How brightly shines the morning star) No. 6 (S.7): "Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh" (How full I am therefore of heartfelt joy. It is found in the NLGB 313 (God's Word & Christian Church), based on Psalm 45, "Ode for a Royal Wedding," and the Song of Salomon. It uses Zahn melody 8359b) and also is assigned to the Second Sunday after Epiphany (Hymn of the Day) and the 20th Sunday after Trinity (Communion Hymn).

"Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" with its utilitarian and cyclic influences is one of Bach's most utilized chorales in various formats. Its primary usage is for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, Stiller (<JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig>: 246) points out, when it was "the hymn of the day in Leipzig and also enjoyed high priority in the Dresden hymn schedules around 1750." In the <NLGB> of 1682 it also is designated to be sung on the final 27th Sunday after Trinity. As hymn No. 313, it is found in the <omnes tempore> section, "Word of God & Christian Church," where it is described as the "wedding song of the heavenly Bridegroom of Jesus Christ," based on Psalm 45, <Ercutavit cor meum> (My heart is stirring with a noble song) to King David, as well as Solomon's Old Testament book, Song of Songs.

The author of both the seven-stanza text and the melody is Philipp Niccolai, dating to 1597. Francis Browne's BCW English translation is found in Bach utilized all the verses and the melody is found in Cantatas: BWV 1/1, BWV 1/6, BWV 36/4, BWV 37/3, BWV 49/6, BWV 61/6, BWV 172/6, BWV Anh 199/3 for Annunciation, Advent, Ascension, Trinity 20, and Pentecost respectively; in plain Chorale BWV 436; and in Miscellaneous Organ-chorale: BWV 739.
Further information is found at:ön_leuchtet_der_Morgenstern.

Picander Cantata Text Chorale

Picander cycle cantata text P-27 closes with No. 6, Christmas chorale "Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich" (S.1)=?BWV 375/6; (no music or performance on March 25, 1729 is documented):

Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich,
In seinem höchsten Thron,
Der heut schließt auf sein Himmelreich
Und schenkt uns seinen Sohn.

Praise God, you Christians, all together,
on his highest throne,
who today unlocks his heavenly kingdom
and bestows on us his son.
[English translation (all stanzas), Francis Browne, BCW

Other Bach uses: Cantata BWV 151, "Süßer Trost, mein Jesu kömtt" (Sweetest trust, my Jesus comes), Christmas 3, 1725; plain chorales

BWV Anh. 156: Elizabeth Kreuziger "Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn," No. 1 (plain chorale.
Cantata BWV Anh. 156 (Breitkopf Catalog 1761, JSB attribution), "Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn," is now attributed to Telemann as an Annunciation Cantata, TVWV 1:732. With text of Erdmann Neumeister IV (1714-17), it was presented in Frankfurt (March 25, 17??. It also was performed on the 19th Sunday after Trinity (October 8, 1724). The music was falsely attributed to Bach in the Leipzig Breitkopf publishers; catalog 1761, "del Sign. J.S. Bach"; score copy SPK AmB 43/11. Reference: NBA KB I/41, Cantatas "Varia" 2000, p. 129f, Andreas Glöckner, Bärenreiter, Basel, 2000), Schmeider Catalog 1951: 635f

Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn
Vaters in Ewigkeit,
Aus sein Herzen entsprossen,
Gleichwie geschrieben steht,
Er is der Morgensterne,
Sein Glänzen streckt er ferne
Vor andern Sternen klar;

Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God
the Father from eternity,
sprung from his heart,
as it stands written:
He is the morning star,
who makes his radiance shine far
beyond all other stars;
[Full English translation, Francis Browne, BCW]

"Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn" is a Catechism Justification chorale (NLGB No. 231 (Zahn melody 4297a). Bach uses only of Stanzas 1 and 5 are: Cantata BWV 22/5 (S.5, Estomihi), Chorale Cantata BWV 96 (S.1, 5; Trinity 18), BWV 132/6 (S.5, Advent 4), and BWV 164/6(S.5, Trinity 13). See BCW, "Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for 13th Sunday after Trinity" [

The other movements (Schmieder Thematic Catalog, Wiesbaden, Breitkopy & Härtel, 1973: 635f) are:

2. Aria (A, str), "Mourn not"

3. Recitative (B), "Thou whom God in the Savior chose"

4. Aria (S, str.), "Let us now in simplicity believe"

5. Chorus (tutti), "Christ comes from out of the Father in the flesh"


Cantata BWV 1: Annunciation Works, Addendum

William Hoffman wrote (December 1, 2012):

Picander Cantata Text Chorale

Picander cycle cantata text P-27 closes with No. 6, Christmas chorale "Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich" (S.1)=?BWV 376; (no music or performance on March 25, 1729 is documented):

Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich,
In seinem höchsten Thron,
Der heut schließt auf sein Himmelreich
Und schenkt uns seinen Sohn.

Praise God, you Christians, all together,
on his highest throne,
who today unlocks his heavenly kingdom
and bestows on us his son.
[English translation (all stanzas), Francis Browne, BCW

Other Bach uses: Cantata BWV 151 in G Major, "Süßer Trost, mein Jesu kömtt" (Sweetest trust, my Jesus comes), Christmas 3 (12/27/1725), closing plain chorale (Mvt. 5) in G Major, Richter 235; plain chorale BWV 375 (Christmas) in G Major; organ chorale prelude BWV 609, Orgelbüchlein No. 11 in G Major; and Miscellaneous organ chorale prelude in E Major, BWV 732a (alle breve 2/2, no bar lines; two lines [soprano with figures, figured bass] with improvised interludes between stanza lines).

Miscellaneous Chorales: Nicholas Hermann 1554 "Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugliech" (Praise God, you Christains, all together, Psalm 147), NLGB No. 31, "Christmas song for the newborn child" (Zahn melody198). Hänssler Bach Edition, Vol. 82, Chorales, "Incidental Festivals," lists plain chorale BWV 376 in A Major, and Miscellaneous organ chorale prelude BWV 732 in E Major, for Annunciation.


Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Table of Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year

Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015 | LCY 2016-2020
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible


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Last update: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 01:38