Thomas Braatz wrote (February 27, 2003):
The Autograph Score:
After Bach’s death C.P.E. Bach inherited. It was listed among the items in C.P.E. Bach’s estate in 1790. Next it was listed as belonging to the Berliner Singakademie which put it up for sale in 1854. The BB, the present owner, acquired in 1855.
The title on top of the 1st page of the score reads:
J.J. Concerto Feria 2. Nativ: Xsti.
In the score the word ‘Choral’ appears only twice and the only recitative is marked with ‘Recit.’ The text of the final chorale is marked only with the beginning words in the tenor part: “Jesu nim dich p.” At the end only a ‘Fine’ appears.
The Set of Original Parts:
These come from the Bach collection of Georg Poelchau. In 1844 they were acquired by the BB where they are located today.
Most of the parts were copied by Johann Andreas Kuhnau.
The 17 parts are distributed as follows:
1) Canto: Kuhnau
2) Alto: Kuhnau
3) Tenore: Kuhnau
4) Basso.: Kuhnau
5) Corno 1.: Kuhnau
6) Corno 2.: Kuhnau
7) Hautbois Imo.: Kuhnau
8) Hautbois 2do.: Kuhnau
9) Violino Imo.: Kuhnau
10) Violino Imo.: (Doublet) Kuhnau (Keys); Christian Gottlob Meißner (Notes)
11) Violino 2do.: (Doublet) Anon. Io.
12) Violino 2do.: Kuhnau
13) Viola Kuhnau
14) Continuo. (with figured bass, partly completed by J.S. Bach) Kuhnau + 3 others
15) CONTINUO. (transposed – figured bass partly completed by J.S.Bach) Kuhnau?
16) Continuo. (Doublet – without figured bass) Anonymous copyist In.
17) Continuo. (Doublet – without figured bass) Anonymous copyist
Mvt. 6 of the mass “Cum Sancto Spiritu” (BWV 233 – Missa in F major) is a parody of the introductory choral mvt. of this cantata BWV 40.
The librettist is unknown. The text of Mvt. 1 comes from 1 John 3:8 [“But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil”]; Mvt. 3 is verse 3 of the chorale “Wir Christenleut” by Kaspar Füger (1592); Mvt. 6 is the 2nd verse of the chorale “Schwing dich auf zu deinem Gott” by Paul Gerhardt (1653); and Mvt. 8 is the 4th verse of the chorale “Freuet euch, ihr Christen alle” by Christian Keymann (1646).
Dürr adds to the textual references: Mvt. 2 the words, “Das Wort ward Fleisch und wohnet in der Welt” relates to John 1:14 [“So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us.”] Mvt. 5 “Die Schlange, so im Paradies auf alle Adamskinder das Gift der Sünde fallen ließ“ to Genesis 3 where in verse15 the words appear: „Ich will Feindschaft setzen zwischen dir und dem Weibe und zwischen deinem Samen und ihrem Samen. Derselbe soll dir den Kopf zertreten…“ [From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."] which in Bach’s time were understood to point to the coming of Christ. Mvt. 4 & Mvt. 6 also use the image of the snake or serpent whose head was crushed by Christ. The phrase in Mvt. 7 “Jesus…nimmt sich seiner Küchlein an” uses an image that related to the Gospel for St. Stephen’s Day which is also the 2nd Day of Christmas (Matthew 23: 37) “Wie oft habe ich deine Kinder versammeln wollen, wie eine Henne versammelt ihre Küchlein unter ihre Flügel; und ihr habt nicht gewollt!” [ "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me.”]
Time of Composition:
According to Dürr’s analysis of handwriting and paper (watermarks, etc.), this cantata was first performed in Leipzig on the 2nd Day of Christmas in 1723. The existence of the part 17 above points to another performance of this cantata between 1746 and 1750.
The Notation of the Horn Parts:
The concertante horn parts in Mvt. 1 & Mvt. 7 in both the score and the parts are notated as transposed to C major. Although not more specifically indicated by Bach, the most likely assumption is that these are horns in F, since both mvts. are in F major. The parts will then sound a fifth lower than Bach notated them. But in the chorale mvts. (Mvt. 3, Mvt. 6, and Mvt. 8) the 1st horn has to play along with the sopranos the actually sounding notes while the 2nd horn rests. The question remains whether different instruments were used in this case (tromba da tirarsi or zink.) [According to the Csibas horns in F are 12 ft. long and they see no need for a different instrument to play colla parte with the sopranos in the chorales.