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Cantata BWV 62
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland [II]
Provenance

Thomas Braatz wrote (December 4, 2002):
BWV 62 - Provenance:

The autograph score is in the BB where it was acquired in 1904 from the collection of Bach manuscripts of the Kammersänger Joseph Hauser, who had inherited from Franz Hauser after the latter’s death in 1870. Franz Hauser had acquired it in May, 1833 from Kantor G. Schuster, who was a nephew of Christian Friedrich Penzel, his uncle, who in turn, during his years in Leipzig, may have received it from Doles, a student of Bach’s and one of Bach’s successors in Leipzig. Originally it may have been part of W. F. Bach’s inheritance, but must have returned to Leipzig rather quickly.

Generally the score is quite readable, but must have been written very hurriedly, judging from Bach’s handwriting. The title on the cover page is not by Bach, but the title on top of the 1st page of the score is in his hand and reads as follows:

J. J. Docia 1 Adventy Xsti. Nun kom der Heyden Heyland.

[Since Bach’s abbreviated style has become rather cryptic, I will try to explain what is going on here. Francis Browne was kind enough to double check my notes for any errors or omissions and to offer his suggestions which I incorporated in my explanations, some of which remain theoretical.]

[‘J. J.’ = ‘Jesu Juva’ [Latin] = ‘Jesus help [me!]’ This is generally found as the very 1st item at the very top of the 1st page of the score. It seems to be Bach’s invocation which is preparatory to actually beginning the process of composing. Most Bach scholars see this as evidence of Bach’s faith, but a very few dissenters have indicated that this was simply a empty formula, a common convention also used by other composers in a similar way. These dissenters have, as far as I know, never offered solid evidence in support of this contention. If anyone reading this has come upon such evidence, I, for one, would like to see it and attempt to verify it.

‘Doica’ is only one of a number of different ways that Bach uses to abbreviate the Latin word, ‘Dominica’ = ‘The Day of the Lord’ = ‘Sunday’

‘1 Adventy’ = The 1st [Sunday] of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, a moveable date that occurs 4 Sundays before the week of Christmas which is a fixed date’ always on the 25th of December. [The ‘y’ at the end of ‘Advent’ looks more like an upside=down ‘h’ = I do not know what this signifies. Is there anyone out there who does?]

‘Xsti.’ = The 1st and foremost choice here is that the ‘X’ represents a Greek ‘X’ = ‘chi’ which is the 1st Greek letter of the word ‘Christos.’ The ‘r’ and ‘i’ are dropped and only the suffix ‘sti’ remains. Somehow, and at some point in time, Germans looked at this word more in the Latin form (influence of the Gutenberg Bible?) ‘Christus’ and then assigned a Latin genitive ending: ‘vox Christi’ = ‘the voice of Christ’; ‘das Blut Christi’ = ‘the blood of Christ’ or as given here: ‘Advent Christi’ = ‘the Advent of Christ’

The ‘X’ may have had other significance for Bach who frequently demonstrates a proclivity toward several levels of meaning. The ‘X’ can be read as a ‘Kreuz’ = ‘cross’ which, occurring here during the Advent season, would carry a special significance for Bach who incorporated a passion chorale into the Christmas Oratorio, and for whom the ‘X’ musically also meant a ‘double cross’ = ‘double sharp,’ a musical symbol which ‘raises’ the note to a higher pitch just as Christ’s cross had been raised in order to complete the crucifixion. This type of punning on various levels is fairly common in Bach’s mode of thinking.

Nun kom der Heyden Heyland’ = {literally: Now come of the heathens healer – Now come, [you] healer of the heathens} ‘kom’ should, of course, be written ‘komm,’ but Bach frequently abbreviates the form to ‘kom’ with a horizontal line just above the ‘m.’ A number of copies of the score, one as early as 1761, show this word abbreviated with the single horizontal line above the ‘m.’ Somehow Bach, in a hurry, forgot to add this line. The spellings of ‘Heyden’ and ‘Heyland’ were common in Bach’s time but went out of favor in the 19th century. Spellings such as these ('ey' instead of 'ei') are still found ‘frozen in time’ in certain family names that were never changed to modernize them.

Bach does not indicate the instrumentation on the score.

At the end of the 1st mvt., he wrote “Aria sequitur” thus indicating in advance which mvt. would follow. At the end of mvt. 2 (Tenor Aria), he wrote “Recit seqt” to prepare for the recitative. Above Mvt. 4 Bach wrote: “Aria Baßo Solo”, before mvt. 5 “Recit.” and above the final mvt. “Choral.”

At the end, Bach wrote, “Fine SDG” = ‘The End, Soli Deo Gloria” = “Glory to God alone” The ‘SDG’ is the famous subscript that Bach used as a sign of gratitude when the score had been completed. This subscript may have been used by other composers as well. Does anyone know of any examples? The question still remains: Did Bach include this as a rather worn-out formula such as a conclusion to a letter (“Sincerely yours,” etc.) or did he truly identify with the meaning of these words? Perhaps here the context of Bach’s life should decide this matter and not whether some other composer used this formula in a similar way.

The Set of Original Parts

This set of 15 separate parts went the usual way from Anna Magdalena Bach to the St. Thomas School soon after Bach’s death. They are now in the Bach-Archive in Leipzig. The parts are:

Soprano
Alto
Tenore
Basso
Violino Primo
Violino Primo (Doublet)
Violino 2do
Violino 2do (Doublet)
Viola
Hautbois 1mo
Hautbois 2do
Violone
Corno
Continuo (not transposed)
Continuo (transposed with figured bass)

6 copyists (anonymous) were used. Their work is of varying quality, some very skilled, others very less dependable.

1st Performance:

This cantata was composed for its 1st performance for the 1st of Advent on December 3rd of 1724.

The Text:

The librettist is unknown. There is some indication that certain rhymes resemble the type that Picander used.

The librettist used the 1st and last verses of the Luther hymn, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland.”

Luther added his text to and based it upon an already existing chorale and its melody. It first appeared in Luther's version in 1524 (Wittenberg) in “Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn” (editor - Johann Walter,) but the melody is much older and can be traced to “Intende, qui regis Israel” the 2nd vs. of which is “Veni, redemptor gentium.” The earliest documentation is in the form of a handwritten document from circa 1120 in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

Verses 2-7 are paraphrased by the librettist, sometimes with only a few vague references to the original chorale text.

 

Cantata BWV 62: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

References: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-300 | Chorales BWV 301-350 | Chorales BWV 351-400 | Chorales BWV 401-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Vocal Works BWV Anh | BGA | NBA | BC: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | Sources
Discussions of BWV Numbering System: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýSeptember 29, 2011 ý10:31:55