Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127


Systematic Discussions of Bach’s Other Vocal Works
Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 - Cantata 6

Discussions in the Week of November 14, 2004

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 16, 2004):
XO part 6, 1st mvt

In the piece officially scheduled for this week's discussion, namely the 6th part of Christmas Oratorio: I especially like the harmonic motto stuck Bach has in there to organize the first movement. Each time it gets to a big cadence, the basso continuo switches from its prevailing motion (eighths) and becomes quickly repeated notes (sixteenths).

For example, the last five bars of that movement: the harmony holds steady through three bars, G# diminished seventh chord (G#-B-D-F) while the bass line walks down through B, A, G# in its repeated notes. Over that A it's therefore a really strong dissonance, the accented passing clash against that G#-B-D-F happening in the rest of the orchestra. A nice illustration of the movement's text, which is about withstanding the attacking talons of proud enemies. Bach saves this crunchiest bit, at each big cadence, to be right before that resolution...intensifying the drama and the triumph of that steadfast faith, keeping clear which key we're going to in each place.

So, at these spots, he hits the deceptive 6th degree of the scale, walks the bass line back down with its different and unexpected change of figuration (i.e. being bowed twice as fast), then getting to I-6-4, V, and I right down to the very last moment. Brilliant stuff, the way he delays the expected dominant harmony for so long! Victory snatched from the jaws of impending defeat. Such a contrast with the main themes of the movement, which are so firmly the simple dominant and tonic, so unproblematic.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 16, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Another striking feature is the canon-like treatment of the opening material; two subjects are first simultaneously presented by the 1st trumpet and upper strings, then the 2nd and 3rd trumpets, fortified with continuo and timpani, imitate that material, thus setting the music off on its powerful and stirring progress.

Also notice how the opening 16th note subject (strings bar 2), when it appears in the 1st trumpet (bar five), stays "on the same spot" for three bars, whereas when this subject appears in other instrumental and (especially) vocal parts throughout the movement, it moves down a bar at a time.

Doug Cowling wrote (November 16, 2004):
Neil Halliday wrote:
< I've always felt that there was link between this chorus and and final chorale-fantasy which opens with a similar trumpet figure. And there are number of features which remind us that the work is both a set of six cantatas and a single oratorio. The "farewell" of the four soloists in the last recitative parallels the penultimate movement of the St. Matthew Passion. >
More arresting is the repetition of the "Passion Chorale" which is the first chorale in Part One and which closes the work transfigured in D major. As far as I've been able to discover, the chorale did not have the Passion sighnficance that it has for us but rather was a common communion chorale for the Lutherans. Has any ever tracked this chorale through the cantatas to see if it has a particular symbolize for Bach? I know it appears at the end of an alto funeral cantata whose title escapes me at the moment. Lovely scrunchy harmonies with a flute solo above.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 16, 2004):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>More arresting is the repetition of the "Passion Chorale" which is the first chorale in Part One and which closes the work transfigured in D major. As far as I've been able to discover, the chorale did not have the Passion significance that it has for us but rather was a common communion chorale for the Lutherans. Has any ever tracked this chorale through the cantatas to see if it has a particular symbolize for Bach? I know it appears at the end of an alto funeral cantata whose title escapes me at the moment.<<
The final use of the 'Passion Chorale' as the last mvt. of the WO BWV 248/64 is based upon the 4th verse of the hymn text for "Ihr Christen auserkoren" by Georg Werner (1648.) Just how this hymn became associated with the melody of the 'Passion Chorale' I do not know, but this type of thing does happen rather frequently with other chorale melodies and texts as well. Alfred Dürr describes as 'unusual' the inclusion of a Phrygian-mode melody "Herzlich tut mich verlangen" in a mvt. that beams forth in the purest D major key. The melody, under the latter name, is also found in BWV 153/5. It is of interest that CPE Bach, in his collections of 4-pt chorales gives the melody as "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" specifically for the setting of BWV 248/64. Dürr refers to BWV 248/5 as having the same melody ("Herzlich tut mich verlangen"), but interestingly CPE Bach gives the caption of chorale from this same mvt. as "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" (the Passion Chorale.) Perhaps there is some esoteric connection with this passion hymn melody after all, even though Dürr does not think so. Dürr, in his book on the cantatas [Bärenreiter, 1971, p. 134] says essentially the following: Bach probably intended the 'bracketing' ["Verklammerung"] of the entire oratorio by using the same melody twice, at the beginning and at the end. Dürr thinks that it is less likely that Bach intended to point toward the passion of Jesus by using this melody, because the Leipzig congregation at that time had not yet established in their minds such a tight connection between the melody and Paul Gerhardt's passion-tide hymn "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden. The same melody was used just as frequently with the text for "Wie soll ich dich empfangen" so that it would be difficult for the congregation to quickly make or even suspect the association that Bach might have been wanting to establish with the Gerhardt's passion-tide hymn text. [The problem with this is that Bach never set this melody with this text, "Wie soll ich dich empfangen" anywhere else and none of the collections of Bach's 4-pt. chorales reference this text associated with this melody. Strange, isn't it?]

What we find are a number of different 4-pt. harmonizations of the chorale melody listed under "Befiehl du deine Wege" BWV 161/6 and BWV 270, 271, and 272. The other instances of this chorale melody occur in the SMP as BWV 244/15(/17)44, 54, 62.

The untexted use of this melody in BWV 127/1, as reported first by Friedrich Smend, shows that Bach definitely had the 'Passion Chorale' in mind and could expect members of the congregation to recognize it even though the words "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" were not being sung.

The question remains whether there was a stronger association with the 'Passion Chorale' than with the other possible text associations. Did Bach enjoy or make use of the 'double entendre' in the instance of BWV 248? Was it simply a matter of knowing which part of the liturgical year was being experienced at the time or which event or festival was being celebrated at the time?

I, personally, like to think that Bach, in BWV 248, was accomplishing a number of goals at the same time, one of which might have allowed for a hint/indication of the events still to come at the end of Jesus' life.

John Pike wrote (November 16, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < I, personally, like to think that Bach, in BWV 248, was accomplishing a number of goals at the same time, one of which might have allowed for a hint/indication of the events still to come at the end of Jesus' life.

I agree. The link between the Christmas story and the crucifixion is central. Jesus' main purposes in coming to earth were to teach and to die for our sins. Regardless of how much the Leipzig congregation understood the linkage, I suspect it was a definite decision by Bach to make a very strong linkage between the Christmas and crucifixion stories, much as writers of many carols have done.

Contiof this discussion, see: Passion Chorale [Other Vocal Works]

 

Discussions in the Week of November 1, 2009

William Hoffman wrote (November 1, 2009):
BWV 248VI: Intro

BWV 248VI

Main cantata page: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV248.htm
Text, English, interlinear: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV248-6-Eng3.htm
Readings: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Epiphany.htm
Commentary (Crouch): http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/works/bachjs/cantatas/248-VI.php
Score (BGA): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV248-6-BGA.pdf


Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 - Revised & Updated Discography
Aryeh Oron wrote (July 28, 2009): Following the revised discographies of SMP, SJP, MBM & SRP I am glad to inform you of the revised & updated discography of the Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 (XO).
For the already existing recordings I have added exact recording date (not only month/year) and link/s to source of info/possible purchase sources. I have done the deepest possible search over the web and discovered many dozens of unfamiliar recordings. For each new recording I have built performer page (or updated existing performer page) and bio page for each artist (conduct, vocal & instrumental ensembles, vocal soloists) who took part in the recording. I have added hundreds bios and updated many others.
The number of musicians' (& poets') bios on the BCW in now over 6,300. The 7 pages (a page for a decade) of the XO discography are linked from:http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV248.htm144 complete recordings (all 6 Cantatas) of XO and/or complete Cantatas from XO are now presented in the discography pages (in the previous version there were 99).Despite my efforts, the info presented for some of the recordings is only partial. Therefore, I would appreciate any help in making this discography (as well as other discographies on the BCW) even more comprehensive, updated and accurate by adding recordings, correcting errors and completing missing details.

EPIPHANY: 248VI, Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben (chorus, parody)
1/6/1735 (Christmas Oratorio Nos. 54-64; borrowed material (Nos. 1, 3, 4, 8-11 from lost church cantata, BWV 248a)
Text: Nos. 1-5, 7-10, probably Picander
Chorales: 6. Gerhardt "Ich steh' an deiner Krippen hier (S.1, mel. "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein"); 11 Werner "Ihr Christen auserkoren" (S.1, mel. Herzlich tut, mich verlangen)
Gospel: Mat. 2: 7-12, Magi
Literature: BG V2 (Rust 1856), NBA KB II/6 (Blankenburg, Dürr 1966); Eulenberg (Schering 1922), Baerenreiter (Dürr 1961), Dürr Cantatas:172-82 (2005)
Forces: SATB, 4 vv, 3 tp, timp, 2 ob d'a, str, bc
Movements: chorus (1), recs. (2, 5, 7), ariosi (3, 8, 10), arias (4, 9), chorale (6), chorale chorus (11)
1(54). Chs. (tutti): Lord, when the stiff-necked foes do rage (3/8, free d.c., passepied-menuett [Finke-Hecklinger])
2(55). Rec. (T): Then Herod, when he had . . . called the Wise Men (7-8)
3(56). Aso. (S, str): You traitor, try then to lay the Lord low
4(57). Aria (S, ob d'a, str): A mere wave of his hand makes men powerless (2 pt., 3/4 dance (Neumann HbKJSB)
5(58). Rec. (T): When they had heard the king (9-11)
6(59). Cle. (4vv, obs, str): I stand here by the manger
7(60). Rec. (T): And being warned of God (12)
8(61). Aso. (T, obs d'a): Go hence . . . my treasure, goeth
9(62). Aria (T, obs d'a): You stiff-necked foes cannot make me fearful (2/4, bouree-like [Little-Jenne] free d.c., concerto)
10(63). Aso.(SATB): What can the torments of hell do now?
11(64). Cle. Chs. (tutti): Now are you well-avenged (4/4, bouree-like [Little-Jenne])

The overall structure is symmetrical -- almost palindrome or mirror -- as in sections of Bach's Passion Oratorio settings of John and Matthew. It has a large opening and closing choruses, central plain congregational chorale, and first and second parts with narrative and lyric commentary of two arioso-aria pairs. The lyric verse of madrigalian chorus, ariosi and arias "re-interprets the Christian triumph over the failure of Herod's plotting as an all-inclusive recognition: now that God has become man, hell can no longer do us any harm" (Dürr Cantatas). The central chorale (No. 6[59]) establishes the context of the Dürr says.

Dürr assumes that the madrigalian movements "must have been remodeled in various ways." In his Preface to the Baerenreiter edition (1961) from the NBA, Dürr says: "The alterations which this revision necessitated perhaps made Picander unwilling to publish the (XO) text under his own name."

1(54). Dictum: "Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben" (Lord, when our insolent enemies snort").* The opening festive chorus (3/8 passepied-menuett; trumpets, drums, minus flutes found in Parts 1 and 3), is an elaborate "multi-sectional structure of imposing grandeur" - closely related to a great fugue" (Dürr Cantatas). The first trumpet takes a prominent role, as in the closing, elaborate chorale.

*The dictum reference to "stolzen Feinde" (insolent enemies) is repeated in both arias, having rich Old Testament allusions, says Michael Marrisen in his insightful study, <Bach's Oratorios: The Parallel German-English Texts with Annotation> (OUP, 2008). The "insolent enemies" comes from Psalm 86:14, "the insolent rise up against me," and derives from the Hebrew word `zed," meaning both "presumptuous" and "insolent." The word "schnauben" (snort), says Marissen, relates to Jeremiah 8:16, "concerning the enemy approach, `One heard their horses snorting'."

2(55). Narrative Recitative (tenor). "Then Herod, when he had . . . called the Wise Men" (Mat. 2:7-8), tells them to seek out the Christ child and "when you find it, report this to me, so that I, too, may worship it" (Marissen), with a cadential ornamentation on the final word "anbete" (worship).

3(56). First Arioso (soprano & strings). "You traitor, try then to lay the Lord low." The soprano's unabashed, direct condemnation of Herod features unsettling, unrelenting, chromatic extensions. In an extensive biblical-historical footnote, Marissen concludes: "there is a great deal of depravity among the Herodians, and the Christmas Oratorio librettist may have used the language of Mark 6 because of this: just like Herodias has it in later for John (the Baptist, Mark 6:19), so does Herod now for Jesus."

4(57). First aria, (soprano, oboe d'amore and strings). "A mere wave of his hand makes men powerless." The soprano's mood shifts dramatically to one of comfort and joy as "the Most High has to utter just one word to put a stop to the insolence of his enemies." The music has a "pronounced dance character with a clear, periodic phrase structure. Indeed the ritornellos (A, B, C) can easily be united to absorbed Bach's form an instrumental movement for strings and oboe d'amore. . . would take the form A-BC-ABC" (Dürr Cantatas). With its ¾ tempo, it could have the influence of a gavotte, although neither Finkee-Hecklinger nor Little-Jenne comment on the aria. The rhythmic uplifts and pauses on the weak beats suggest Lombard rhythm which invested Bach's vocal music throughout the 1730s, according to Gerhardt Herz (<Essays on JSB>: 252f).

Marissen points out again the textual reference to "the insolence of his enemies" so that "the plan of mortals" will be "cut short," a reference to Psalm 33:10, where "The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to nought, and cuts short the plans of the peoples."

5(58). Narrative Recitative (tenor). "When they had heard the king" (Mat. 2:9-11, the Adoration of the Magi). In contrast to the text of the narrative in the first recitative, with Herod's treachery and vengeance portrayed by the bass soloist, the Evangelist hesings a straightforward, compelling lullaby.

6(59). Chorale. "Ich steh' an deiner Krippen hier" (Stanza 1) is found in the Schemelli Gesangbuch (1736), No. 14, "For the Birth of Jesus Christ." The six-stanza text is by Paul Gerhardt (1653). It can be found in the CPO recording (57 songs, 1995). In NBA KB III/2.1 (1991), the Songbook, BWV 439-507 (69 melodies), the song is BWV 469. Thomas Braatz, BCW discussion, June 1, 2006, points out that, according to the NBA, pp. 103-148, Bach's involvement in the melody was "For revisions only (corrections, additions of only a few notes, key signatures, fermatas, rests)." Braatz also observes: "Of the 69 melodies, 21 of them appear for the first time in the Schemelli hymnal. These theoretically could be by Bach."

The melody of this chorale is "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein"), found in organ chorale prelude BWV 734. "The melody is said to be derived by Luther from a song `Wach auf, wach auf du schoene' (Terry 1921 p. 270), associated with both hymns. In the Christmas Oratorio it is set to an Epiphany text [Paul Gerhardt]. Listed in the Orgelbuechlein [for the Lord's Supper], set in BWV 755 [chorale prelude], and used without text in Cantata BWV 70 (Sunday before Advent 1723)" [No. 8, trumpet solo "Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit," alternate title, cf BWV 307 [Ringwalt text] (ref. Williams, <Organ Music of JSB>, p. 476f)

7(60). Recitative (tenor). "And being warned of God" (12). The narrator's simple, direct biblical account leads directly to:

8(61). Second Arioso (tenor, oboes d'amore): "Go hence . . . my treasure, goeth." The tenor's proclamatory arioso punctuated with instrumental interjections reveals a panoply of emotions involving relief, conviction, tenderness, love, and assurance. Marissen shows how certain biblical words support these. "I will also not let him [free] from me./ His arm will embrace me out of love" relates to Song of Songs 3:4, "I hold him and will not let him go," and Luke 1:51,"He exercised dominion with his arm." The conclusion -- "and if I anxiously beseech you:/ `Lord, save [me]!,' then let me see salvation!" - refers to Psalm 55:2,5, "God . . . do not hide yourself from my beseeching" and Psalm 118.25, "O Lord, save [us] . . . ."

This four-movement sequence, parodied directly from the final four movements of its sacred predecessor, has the musical ingredients of an Italian opera dramatic concluding scena: solo arioso and aria, quartet commentary, and extended conclusion.

9(62). Second Aria (tenor, oboes d'amore & bassoon): "Now you insolent enemies might horrify." (2/4, bouree-like [Little-Jenne] free da capo., concerto). The swaying, pulsating music, with an occasional hold, is similar to the tenor aria with the same wind trio accompaniment, "Ach windet euch," in the 1725 version of the St. John Passion Oratorio. Textually, the aria begins with the third reference to the dictum, the "insolent enemies."

10(63). Arioso (SATB): "What can the torments of hell do now?" This brief imitative vocal quartet summarizes the triumph against the opening theme's enemies, leading to a joyous, celebratory conclusion.

11(64). "Ihr Christen auserkoren" (Stanza 1), the "closing chorale, as the conclusion of the entire oratorio, surpasses all the preceding chorale movements in splendor and dimensions," says Dürr. The melody is the "Passion Chorale," "Herzlich tut mich verlangen." The substitute text is by Georg Werner (1648).

The previous BCW discussion focused on the Passion Chorale: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/VD/BWV248-Part6.htm and continued as: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/Passion-Chorale.htm (Nov. 14-18, 2004).

Textually, the closing movement, citing the "Feinde" (enemies) again, "identifies the four eschatological enemies of humankind in the fifth line, "death, devil, sin, hell," points out Marissen in <Bach's Oratorios>. Bach's harmonization of the chorale melody, as in the previous setting (No. 6[59]), shows Bach's seasoned mastery, notably the rhythmic strength and seeming polyphonic, imitative complexity in the lower three voices

My commentary on the original version (source) of Part 6, BWV 248a, BC D8:

With the Christmas season fast approaching and wanting to produce a sixth part for his Christmas Oratorio, ending with the Feast of Epiphany, Bach turned to a recent festive sacred cantata of unknown origin, BWV 248a, and adapted it wholesale through parody: opening chorus, three accompanied recitatives, two arias, and the closing chorale chorus. He composed three interspersed narrative movements and a central four-part chorale, providing a basic structure similar to the other five-parts of the oratorio.

The original cantata is explored in depth in Klaus Häfner's article, "Zum Problem der Entstehungsgeschichte von BWV 248a" (The Problem of the Origin History of BWV 248a), Die Musikforschung 30 (1977), pp. 304-8. The evidence survives in four doublet parts -- found in the Christmas Oratorio performing parts set -- for two violins, continuo (organ), and basso continuo transposed elaboration in Bach's hand. The copyist of the three other duplicate parts was Rudolph Straube, one of the nine copyists for BWV 215 (early October 1734). Since the organ part has a closing chorale movement, it is a sacred work. The scoring of the XO Part 6 includes three trumpets, as do three other XO Parts, 1, 3 and 5, suggesting a festive occasion for the original sacred cantata. The opening chorus is a parody of the opening chorus of a lost Congratulatory Cantata for the Birthday of Saxon Court Minister in Leipzig, Joachim Friedrich Graft von Flemming., BWV Anh. 10, performed on August 31, 1731.

Häfner suggests a possible origin of BWV 248a in a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, July 6, 1734, at the Nikolas Church. There is no record of any music being presented at service, although the occasion and the music of BWV 248a is reminiscent of Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum" of 1743. Häfner considers less likely as the occasion a wedding service or the Town Council Service in late August 1743. He also suggests the possibility of another Dresden-related event, the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, also at the Thomas Church. This event also was considered as the possible site for the first performance of the B-Minor Missa (Kyrie-Gloria), BWV 232I. There also is no record of the music at this service. This occasion was rejected by George Stauffer in his 2003 study of that Mass (p. 36f), in favor of the performance on July 27, 1733, before the Dresden Royal hCourt. Ulrich Siegele's 1995 article on the parody process in the XO, for the Ludwig Finscher Festschrift, suggests a special 1734 Michaelmas Fair church performance of BWV 248a at the same time as BWV 215 in honor of the visiting Saxon Court.

(N.B. Luther's German Te Deum is most appropriate for New Year's Day. I also suggest that the lost Cantata BWV 248a could have been performed for the annual Town Council inauguration, August 25, 1734. No other Bach cantata is documented for that date.)

Like BWV 215/8 (arioso for tenor, bass and soprano) "Lass doch, o teurer Landesvater"), the penultimate movement in BWV 248VI, No. 10 is an elaborate, accompanied recitative for multiple voices, reminiscent of the same movement type and placement in the SMP, BWV 244/77(67). Although these ensembles have overtones of an opera seria scena-finale, Bach's purpose seems more an intimate, concise summation preparatory to the closing chorus.

Source (9/28/08): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV215-D2.htm

In retrospect, it seems that the ever-calculating Bach deliberately created the earlier work, probably designed for a service of allegiance or thanksgiving for the Dresden Court, enraptured of Italian Opera. Bach then easily converted the music in totality through parody to the closing of his Christmas Oratorio, adding the biblical narrative to confirm its status as an oratorio, and the central chorale to bolster its structure and further engage the congregation. We could assume that Picander was the poet of the initial cantata but, like the XO, did not have the two texts published under his name because of the extensive changes Bach made. In the end, Bach had his cake and consumed it, too. It was a truly serendipitous situation as only Bach could realize it!

Neil Halliday wrote (November 3, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
> 4(57). First aria, (soprano, oboe d'amore and strings). "A mere wave of his hand makes men powerless." .....The music has a "pronounced dance character with a clear, periodic phrase structure.....With its ¾ tempo, it could have the influence of a gavotte, although neither Finkee-Hecklinger nor Little-Jenne comment on the aria. The rhythmic uplifts and pauses on the weak beats suggest Lombard rhythm which invested Bach's vocal music throughout the 1730s, according to Gerhardt Herz (<Essays on JSB>: 252f).<
This aria does have a remarkable rhythmic ambiguity (despite the "clear, periodic phrase structure"). It can be conducted right through in 4/4 time with the music beginning on the first beat, rather than in 3/4 time beginning on the third beat as written.

[For example, the opening ritornello is 12 (13) bars long, consisting of 3 sections of four bars length in 3/4 time, or the same 3 sections can be considered as three bars in length, in 4/4 time (with displaced bar lines).]

Deliberate design on Bach's part, to suggest the powerlessness of men's conceits vis a vis the power of God who vanquishes evil with a mere wave of His arm? (But this theory might stumble given that the movement is a parody, original text unknown).

------------

Münchinger has better tempos than Richter in the opening and closing choruses, livlier in the first and more measured in the grand closing chorale.

Also, Richter has mistakenly (IMO) given the charming little penultimate SATB recitative to the full choir.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 3, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
>Marissen points out again the textual reference to "the insolence of his enemies" so that "the >plan of mortals" will be "cut short," a reference to Psalm 33:10, where "The Lord brings the >counsel of the heathen to nought, and cuts short the plans of the peoples." <
A lot of other things happen in Psalm 33, not least of which (33:2-3):
<Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings
Sing to him a new song, play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts> (end quote)

From a literary perspective, Psalm 33 reads like a pastiche of unrelated ideas. I hae made my choice.

Neil Halliday replied to Will:
>Deliberate design on Bach's part, to suggest the powerlessness of men's conceits vis a vis the power of God who vanquishes evil with a mere wave of His arm? (But this theory might stumble given that the movement is a parody, original text unknown). <
I agree that the term parody has a definite musical meaning with respect to the parody mass, as well as a long tradition with respect to Bachs reuse of his own materials. That does not make it correct. More like a bad habit, tough to break.

<the power of God who vanquishes evil with a mere wave of His arm?>

Could He not do it a bit more often, then? Theory stumbles , indeed, from my perspective, reworking (parody) or not.

Neil Halliday wrote (November 3, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>Could He not do it a bit more often, then? Theory stumbles , indeed, from my perspective, reworking (parody) or not.<
I always view the texts from Bach's perspective, on this list. That we moderns might have our doubts is immaterial (IMO) when discussing Bach's setting of the texts.

Is the traditional meaning of the term 'parody' (in classical music) "wrong"? It's a bit like the argument over the term 'recorder'. We might as well go along with these traditional English idiocies - there are more important changes to make in the world.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 3, 2009):
I agree with both of the points Neil made in response to my post, with a few additional comments:

NH:
>I always view the texts from Bach's perspective, on this list. <
I do, as well. I did not write very carefully. The point I meant to emphasize is that it is something of a stretch to connect melody to text, when the melody has been re-used and new text fitted to it. However, it is not out of the question that Bach may have envisioned this entire process in advance, in some instances. I believe this is what Neil meant by the theory may stumble, and I was attempting to agree with that point (while hurrying to add some humor re Larry Kings ex-wives, including the pre-coming out Billy-Jean).

NH:
>Is the traditional meaning of the term 'parody' (in classical music) "wrong"? It's a bit like >the argument over the term 'recorder'. <
These two issues are in the category of a tempest in a teapot, but also leading to spirited and sometimes interesting and/or amusing discussion. From the perspective of derivation, they are precisely opposite in nature.

(1) The use of recorder to refer to a type of flute has no etymologic support. It is simply a habit in English, but of early (16th C. documented) origin and now well established. Therefore, not confusing when one needs to refer to a dictionary. The OED first called the usage obsolete, but removed this designation with the supplement, and provided 20th C. examples of usage. If you look up recorder in any conventional dictionary you will get a clear definition, and often a picture of a flute-like musical instrument.

(2) The use of parody for re-using melodic material with new text derives from the Renaissance term parody mass, an etymolically correct usage. Unfortunately, the implications of the word parody have changed greatly in the intervening years, now implying some form of burlesque and/or humor in the copy. I believe that is the only meaning you will get by looking it up in conventional dictionaries, at least those I have at hand, including the virtually comprehensive OED.

Also handy on my shelves, the Harvard Dictionary of Music has a separate entry for parody, but mainly with reference to parody mass or related techniques prior to 1600. The initial definition:
<(1) In present-day usage, a satirical imitation, such as may be created in music either by replacing the original text with a comic one or by changing the music itself in a comic manner.> (end quote)
Specifically, no mention of parody to describe Bachs reworking or re-use of his own (or others) music, with added or altered text, for which they cross-reference contrafactum (as I previously reported), after this inital comment:
<(2) In early practice, replacement of the text, with (or more often) without the implication of caricature.> (end quote)
Note the especially vague early!

Only when we refer to the entry for contrafactum do we find:
<In 17th- and 18-century French usage the transfer of texts was called parodie [...] These parodies were instrumental pieces (dances) to which a poetic text was added. The songs of Lullys operas especially were often provided with new texts, occasionally parodistic, i.e. caricaturing, a procedure frequently termed parody rather than contrafactum by modern writers. Quite a few contrafacta are in the works of Bach (e.g. B-minor Mass (BWV 232)) and Handel.> (end quote)

The Norton Grove Concise Encyclopedia of Music includes the following, under parody, after discussing the derivation of parody mass:
<The term is also used for such works as the short masses of Bach, which re-use earlier material, but are better described as reworkings or arrangements.> (end qu)

Bottom line: if you need to look up recorder, you will get a straight answer. If you need to look up parody, you will either undertake a small research project, or get it wrong (perhaps both). I would put it in the category of professional jargon for music big-wigs, where plain folk would use rework, as suggested by Grove (and supported by Julian Mincham, as I recall).

William Hoffman wrote (November 4, 2009):
BWV 248VI: Fugitive Note

A Glimpse into Bach's Workshop

Beyond Michael Mairssen's intensive study of the biblical sources in BWV 248VI, is the following information from BCW sources showing some interesting connections to the chorale Bach used for the Second Day of Christmas, with its connection to Epiphany.

BWV 696 (1700/1717), Christum wir sollen loben schon/Was fürchst du Feind, Herodes, sehr (alternate title) [1]
[1] This is Martin Luther's adaptation into German of another part of the same Latin hymn referred to above:

Was fürchtst du, Feind Herodes, sehr,
daß uns geborn kommt Christ der Herr?
Er sucht kein sterblich Königreich,
der zu uns bringt sein Himmelreich.
Chorale Melodies, Prepared by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron (May 2006) http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Christum-wir.htm

...`A solis ortus cardine,' which recounts the life of Christ from the Incarnation to the Ascension and is found in liturgical manuscripts from the 10th century onwards
The latter text was often divided into sections for different liturgical occasions: the first seven strophes were used for Christmas, the next four (beginning `Hostis Herodes impie') for Epiphany, and the following four (beginning `Katerva matrum personat') for the Feast of the Holy Innocents. From: "Johann Sebastian Bach: Christum wir sollen loben schon - BWV 121," By Kim Patrick Clow - May 9, 2009.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV121-Kim.pdf

Organ chorale prelude BWV 696 comes from the Kirnberger Collection, compiled by Bach's student and son-in-law. Obviously, the compiler in putting in the alternate title had some knowledge of Luther's adaptation (1524) of the original Latin hymn, or at least Bach's sources. From collateral evidence, we may infer that Bach knew the chorale to 1700/17, and specifically to 1713/15 (latter date ref. setting BWV 611, Orgelbüchlein setting). At Christmas 1724, Bach presented chorale Cantata BWV 121, using the Luther melody and Christmas text. Ten years later, while Bach was searching out chorales for the Christmas Oratorio, he may have conveyed the Luther Epiphany verse translation and possibly the entire original Latin hymn to his poet. Thus, we not only have the biblical influences in the BWV 248VI text but the chorale ones as well. Bach cast a wide net to achieve a well-order church music.

Thank you, Thomas, Aryeh, and Kim!

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 7, 2009):
If I have read correctly, this is both the last week of Will (hawaiivannared) Hoffmans current series of introductions (with a return for SJP in 2010), and of our structured discussions of the Christmas Oratorio (XO), which have spanned nine months of the current liturgical format. Even allowing for interruptions for two major choral works, that gives a rough impression of how much of Bachs total output was related to the Christmas season. Coincidentally (or not), Aryeh has recently completed updating the discography of the XO, with a surprising number of releases since 2000. Intros to the XO began with Francis Brownes enthusiastic endorsement of Gardiners DVD release, documenting the effective beginning of the year 2000 Pilgrimage concerts, with ongoing CD releases nearing completion. Thanks to all three for advancing the BCW commentary and database.

Somehow, it does not feel like we have done justice to the XO in discussion; I know I certainly have not. OTOH, for comparison, in the first round there was zero commentary re BWV 248IV. As I write that, I realize that the XO has bridged the gap between the second and third discussion rounds; this is only the second time it has been formally scheduled. It is on topic, in any case, but I would suggest that we keep it as an open topic of weekly discussion through the approaching Xmas season. I hope to do so, especially for comparison of some of the recorded sets.

I anticipate writing a related post shortly, re Gardiner Vol. 13 in relation to the liturgic discussion.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 7, 2009):
I wrote last night:
< Thanks to all three for advancing the BCW commentary and database. >
I overlooked that the 2009 discussion of BWV 248I was introduced by Doug Cowling, and that the Francis Browne recommendation of the Gardiner DVD came a bit later. So make that thanks to all four, including Doug. Apologies if there are any other oversights who deserve equal mention.

Russel Telfer wrote (November 7, 2009):
I'd like to thank Neil Halliday and many others for their posts which I have read with interest.

I thought I ought to write on the subject of BWV 248 before it becomes last week's news (tho 'tis already Sunday in Australia). Our Dorset group has rehearsed all six cantatas during the last two years. The most recent was, not surprisingly, 248VI, as you have billed it.

The Christmas Oratorio continues to amaze me. Music is an enduring pleasure, but none more enduring than these high voltage "high day" cantatas - something that I sensed early in life. This was because my mother was a competent amateur pianist, Bach lover and choral society "fixer". Quite a good combination. So I didn't happen upon this music, as some have done, I didn't have to go out and find it, it was there on the doorstep, or as it happens, pretty well in the bedroom. A bit of good luck, methinks.

There is also the fact that there are moments when the XO merges emotionally - as it seems to me - with the Passions and even the MBM. One minute you can be listening to BWV 248 and the next minute you're reminded
of the roughest pre-Crucifixion passages in the Passions. In my view Bach covers the entire palette of emotion: dejection, grief, to exultation and ecstasy.

Neil Halliday also quoted Ed:
Ed:
< I agree that the term parody has a definite musical meaning with respect to the parody mass, as well as a long tradition with respect to Bach's reuse of his own materials. That does not make it correct. More like a bad
habit, tough to break.>
and Neil (?):
< Is the traditional meaning of the term 'parody' (in classical music) "wrong"? It's a bit like the argument over the term 'recorder'. We might as well go along with these traditional English idiocies - there are more important changes to make in the world. >
Unfortunately "parody" does have two strands of meaning, and the mickey-taking one is the stronger. The weaker, but more serious meaning, does not have any good synonyms that we could go to instead.

In the Bachian sense we are talking about adapting a given piece and giving it a different dress: sacred in place of secular or vice versa. There are other words: adaptation, arrangement, even recomposition.

You can be sure that over time the English language (in all anglophone countries) will change. It always has. Some words have become more respectable, and others seriously less. It is up to us, as users of the language, to find a word that meets our purpose for what we want to say. I would not use "parody" even though it is now technically correct. The word "adaptation" strikes me as perfectly safe, and if you are engaged in this issue, find a better one!

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 8, 2009):
Parody [was: BWV 248VI]

Russell Telfer vwrote:
< Unfortunately "parody" does have two strands of meaning, and the mickey-taking one is the stronger. The weaker, but more serious meaning, does not have any good synonyms that we could go to instead. >
(1) Mickey-taking? New jargon to me. From what culture does it originate? I dcatch your drift, however.

(2) Weaker? Stronger? As the financiers say, bad money drives out good. To some of us, any money is better than none.

We do have a good and precise synonym: contrafactum. I left the marketing to Doug, a couple weeks back. Any progress?

As Cole Porter wrote:
In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything goes.

If only Bach had texts like that to set, eh!?

I invite any and all to Salem MA USA to hear the contrafactum, in the format of cabaret-porn, which routinely goes on to that tune, among others. Anything goes, indeed.

Russell Telfer wrote (November 8, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (1) Mickey-taking? New jargon to me. From what culture does it originate? I do catch your drift, however. >
Oops. I may have strayed into political incorrectness. English usage. I shan't explain it, but you caught my drift.

Then ...
< (2) Weaker? Stronger? As the financiers say, bad money drives out good. To some of us, any money is >better than none. >
You're right. I think Gresham's Law does apply quite strongly in language. But surprisingly, generations later, a few sullied words manage to become respectable again.

And ...
< We do have a good and precise synonym: contrafactum. I left the marketing to Doug, a couple weeks back. Any progress? >
I don't feel comfortable with "contrafactum" right now, but if it becomes generally acceptable, I'll buy it. Someone else suggested "derivation". I prefer "adaptation" because it leaves open the magnitude of the change: it could be just changing the words or the part writing; it could be adding a new and original section.

Evan Cortens wrote (November 8, 2009):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< Someone else suggested "derivation". I prefer "adaptation" because it leaves open the magnitude of the change: it could be just changing the words or the part writing; it could be adding a new and original section. >
Unfortunately, I think this is precisely the problem with "adaptation." How do we distinguish in terminology Bach's reworking of an oboe concerto for the harpsichord (e.g., BWV 1053), which I would call an adaptation, from a wholesale reuse of a vocal work, with only the words changed, which I call a parody?

Like I said before, the use of the word parody doesn't bother me in the slightest; there's never been a negative connotation for me. Perhaps an undergraduate history class might giggle when this word is used, but I doubt anyone else familiar with it would.

Glen Armstrong wrote (November 9, 2009):
[To Russell Telfer] In all fairness to Russell with his use of, "mickey-taking", and his subsequent apology for a social indiscretion, I must say, it was very common in my younger days (in England) to hear,"Taking the mickey (out of someone)." I never dreamt it could have a nasty connotation: to me, it simply meant, teasing -- maybe a little diparagingly. The origin was unconsidered. With the current mystification, I checked, and it is based on a slight against the Irish ("Micks", who were all put in the same basket of prejudice as pugnacious and know-it-alls) who needed taking down a peg or three. -- Maybe a slur against Roman Catholics?) Anyway, I had no idea of this ugliness, nor, I have no doubt, had Russell.
I hate loose ends.

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 9, 2009):
Glen Armstrong wrote:
< I hate loose ends. >
I hate loose anything. Well, perhaps the occasional ...

Never mind. Dare I say, Thanks Mate? There, I have said it.

Russell Telfer wrote (November 10, 2009):
Evan Cortens wrote:
(re my comment: 'Someone else suggested "derivation". I prefer "adaptation." ' )
< Like I said before, the use of the word parody doesn't bother me in the slightest; there's never been a negative connotation for me. >
I think we can politely agree to differ here. You don't have a problem with "parody." Neither do I except semantically. Up to now I've never associated the word "parody" with serious re-uses, only humorous and possibly derogatory ones.

Between persons or between cultures, there can be colossal gaps in the perception of words and what they imply. It's one good reason for talking!

Evan Cortens wrote (November 10, 2009):
Russell Telfer wrote:
< Between persons or between cultures, there can be colossal gaps in the perception of words and what they imply. It's one good reason for talking! >
Very true!

 

Discussions in the Week of January 14, 2018 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (January 17, 2018):
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248VI: Epiphany Festival

Part VI Adoration of Magi

For the final festival in the Christmas Oratorio, Bach composed a virtual parody from a lost sacred work (BWV 248a) composed within the previous year, now BWV 248VI, "Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben" (Lord, when our arrogant enemies snort with rage). It is a 25-minute, 11-movement symmetrical form of opening chorus and two parts with five movements each (narrative, accompagnato arioso, aria, recitative secco and chorale setting). In lieu of chorale tropes with accompagnato ariosi, Bach employs the more progressive, operatic vocal pairing of a commentary free-poetry accompagnato, followed by a reflective poetic aria in the Italian opera style, here soprano (Nos. 56-3 and 57-4) and tenor (Nos. 61-8 and 62-9), and two Bar-form chorales with mid 17th century pre-pietists texts of Paul Gerhardt and Georg Werner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj2h-ehWhEA), set to popular melodies, No. 59-6, Martin Luther's "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" (Now rejoice dear Christians all), and No. 64-11, the Passion chorale known as "O sacred head, now wounded"1

Of particular note are three chorale melodies with strong Yuletide and Passion associations combining Incarnation and Atonement, strengthening the theological meanings of the Epiphany Festival Cantata VI on the Adoration of the Magi. Although the hymn is not found here, Luther's double title, "Christum wir sollen loben schon" (We should now praise Christ) and Was fürchst du Feind, Herodes, sehr" (What are you so afraid, Enemy Herod), it was a model for the text and mood of this last music (see below, "Luther Epiphany Hymn"). The Epiphany Song, Paul Gerhardt's "Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier" (I stand here and your crib) uses the Luther melody in his incarnation ballad, "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" (Now rejoice dear Christians all), see below, "Gerhardt Manger Chorale." The final recitative quartet and closing chorale chorus (see below, "Passion Reference, Closing Chorale"), with its use of the Passion chorale, "O sacred head now wounded), still evoke strong opinion regarding Bach's motives for using it in a Christmas setting (see below, "Passion Reference, Closing Chorale").

Part VI of the Christmas Oratorio was premiered on Wednesday, 6 January 1735, for the fest of the Epiphany, beginning at the early main service at St. Thomas before the sermon (not extant) on the day's Gospel, Matt. 2:1-12 (Magi Adoration), presumably by Pastor Christian Weise, and at the afternoon vesper service of the Nicholaikirche before the sermon (not extant) of substitute subdeacon Karl Gottlob Hoffmann (1703-1774) on the day's Epistle (Isaiah 60:1-6, The Gentiles shall come to thy light), says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 The readings in Martin Luther's 1545 translation and the 1611 English kjv version are found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Read/Epiphany.htm. The main service introit psalm in Bach's time was No. 8, Domine, Dominus noster (O Lord, our Lord, KJV, text http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-Chapter-8/), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 367). It was set as a polyphonic motet of Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso, Jakob Hassler, and Josquin Desprez, and possibly performed by Bach’s choir.

Christmas Oratorio, Part VI, movement, scoring, text, keyt, meter (German text, Francis Browne English translation, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/BWV248-6-Eng3P.htm):

[54] 1. Chorus free da-capo, ritornelli complex with fugue, canon and free polyphony, choral insertion [SATB; Tromba I-III, Timpani, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. "Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben, / So gib, dass wir im festen Glauben / Nach deiner Macht und Hülfe sehn!" (Lord, when our arrogant enemies snort with rage / Then grant that we in firm faith / May look to your power and help!); B. "Wir wollen dir allein vertrauen, / So können wir den scharfen Klauen / Des Feindes unversehrt entgehn." (We want to trust you alone, / Then we can escape the sharp claws / Of the enemy unhurt.); D Major, 3/8 passepied-menuett style.
[55] 2. Recitative secco (narrative Matt. 2:7-8) [Tenor, Bass] - Evangelist (T), Herod (B), Continuo (Organ): Evangelist: "Da berief Herodes die Weisen heimlich / und erlernet mit Fleiß von ihnen, wenn der Stern erschienen wäre? / und weiset sie gen Bethlehem und sprach:" (Tenor: Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly / And carefully learned from them when the star had appeared / And he directed them to Bethlehem and said); Herodes: "Ziehet hin und forschet fleißig nach dem Kindlein, / und wenn ihr's findet, sagt mir's wieder, / dass ich auch komme und es anbete." (Bass: Go there and enquire carefully about the little child, / And when you have found him come back and tell me / So that I also may go and worship him.); A to D Major; 4/4.
[56] 3. Recitative accompagnato [Soprano; Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: "Du Falscher, suche nur den Herrn zu fällen, / Nimm alle falsche List, / Dem Heiland nachzustellen; / Der, dessen Kraft kein Mensch ermißt, / Bleibt doch in sichrer Hand. / Dein Herz, dein falsches Herz ist schon, / Nebst aller seiner List, des Höchsten Sohn, / Den du zu stürzen suchst, sehr wohl bekannt." (You cheat, you only seek the Lord to bring him down / You use all your false cunning / To hunt after the saviour; / But he whose power no man can measure / Still remains in safe hands. / Your heart, your false heart is already, / With all your treachery, by the son of the Highest, / Whom you seek to cast down, very well-known.); b minor to A Major; 4/4.
[57] 4. Aria bi-partite, ritornelli complex [Soprano; Oboe d'amore I, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. "Nur ein Wink von seinen Händen / Stürzt ohnmächtger Menschen Macht." (Just a wave of your hand / Casts down the powerless strength of men." B. "Hier wird alle Kraft verlacht! / Spricht der Höchste nur ein Wort, / Seiner Feinde Stolz zu enden, / O, so müssen sich sofort / Sterblicher Gedanken wenden." (Here all might is derided / If the highest speaks one word / To put an end to the pride of his enemies, / Oh, then at once must / Thoughts of mortals be changed.); A Major; 3/4 polonaise style.
[58] 5. Recitative secco (Narrative Matt. 2:9-11) [Tenor, Continuo]: Evangelist: "Als sie nun den König gehöre hatten, zogen sie hin. / Und siehe, der Stern, den sie im Morgenlande gesehen hatten, / ging für ihnen hin, bis dass er kam und stund oben über, / da das Kindlein war. / Da sie den Stern sahen, wurden sie hoch erfreuet / und gingen in das Haus und funden das Kindlein mit Maria, seiner Mutter, / und fielen nieder und beteten es an und täten ihre Schätze / auf und schenkten ihm Gold, Weihrauch und Myrrhen." ( Evangelist: And when they had heard the King, they went away. /And see, the star, which they had seen in the East / Went before them, until it came and stood over the place / Where the little child was. / When they saw the star, they rejoiced greatly / And went into the house and found the child with Mary, his mother, / And they fell down and worshipped him and opened their treasures / And gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh.); f-sharp minor to G Major; 4/4.
[59] 6. Chorale plain, Bar Form [SATB; Oboe I/II e Violino I col Soprano, Violino II coll'Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo]: A. "Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier / O Jesulein, mein Leben;" (I stand here and your crib / O Little Jesus, my life;); A'. "Ich komme, bring und schenke dir, / Was du mir hast gegeben." (I come, bring and give you / What you have given to me.); B. "Nimm hin! es ist mein Geist und Sinn, / Herz, Seel und Mut, nimm alles hin, / Und lass dirs wohlgefallen!" (Take it! It is my spirit and mind, / Heart, soul and courage, take it all / And may it be pleasing to you!); G Major; 4/4.
[60] 7. Recitative secco (Narrative Matt. 2-12 [Tenor, Continuo]: Evangelist: "Und Gott befahl ihnen im Traum, dass sie sich nicht sollten wieder zu Herodes lenken, / und zogen durch einen andern Weg wieder in ihr Land." (Evangelist: And God ordered them in a dream that they should not return to Herod, / And so they departed by another way back to their own country.); e to f-sharp minor; 4/4.
[61] 8. Recitative accompagnato [Tenor; Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo]: "So geht! Genug, mein Schatz geht nicht von hier, / Er bleibet da bei mir, / Ich will ihn auch nicht von mir lassen. / Sein Arm wird mich aus Lieb / Mit sanftmutsvollem Trieb / Und größter Zärtlichkeit umfassen; / Er soll mein Bräutigam verbleiben, / Ich will ihm Brust und Herz verschreiben. / Ich weiß gewiss, er liebet mich, / Mein Herz liebt ihn auch inniglich / Und wird ihn ewig ehren. / Was könnte mich nun für ein Feind / Bei solchem Glück versehren! / Du, Jesu, bist und bleibst mein Freund; / Und werd ich ängstlich zu dir flehn: / Herr, hilf!, so lass mich Hülfe sehn!" (Go then! It is enough that my treasure does not depart from here, / He stays here by me, / I will not let him leave me / His arm out of love / With desire full of gentleness / And with great tenderness will embrace me; / He will remain my bridegroom, / I will dedicate my heart and prayers to him / I know for certain that he loves me / My heart also loves him ardently / And will always honour him. / What sort of enemy could now / Do me harm when I am so fortunate! / You, Jesus, are and remain my friend / And if I beg you anxiously / “Lord, help!”, then let me see your help.); f-sharp to b minor; 4/4.
[62] 9. Aria free da-capo (B repeat), measured ritornelli complex [Tenor; Oboe d'amore I/II, Continuo]: A. "Nun mögt ihr stolzen Feinde schrecken; / Was könnt ihr mir für Furcht erwecken? / Mein Schatz, mein Hort ist hier bei mir." (Now, you arrogant enemies may try to scare me / What sort of fear can you arouse in me? /My treasure, my refuge, is here with me); B. Ihr mögt euch noch so grimmig stellen, / Droht nur, mich ganz und gar zu fällen, / Doch seht! mein Heiland wohnet hier." (Though you may appear ever so fierce / And threatened to cast me down once and for all / Yet see! My saviour lives here); b minor; 2/4 bouree-like style.
[63] 10. Recitative secco, imitation [SATB; Continuo]: "Was will der Höllen Schrecken nun, / Was will uns Welt und Sünde tun, / Da wir in Jesu Händen ruhn?" (What will the terror of hell do now, / What will the world and send do for us / Since we rest in the hands of Jesus]; D Major; 4/4.
[64] 11. Chorale with ritornelli complex [SATB; Tromba I-III, Timpani, Oboe I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. "Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen / An eurer Feinde Schar" (Now you are well avenged / On the host of your enemies); A'. "Denn Christus hat zerbrochen, / Was euch zuwider war.); B. Tod, Teufel, Sünd und Hölle / Sind ganz und gar geschwächt; / Bei Gott hat seine Stelle / Das menschliche Geschlecht." (Christ has broken in pieces / What was against you. / Death, Devil, Sin and hell / are weakened once and for all; / With God is the place / For the human race.); D Major; 4/4 bouree-like

Luther Epiphany Hymn

At Christmas 1724, Bach presented chorale Cantata BWV 121, "Christum wir sollen loben schon" (We should now praise Christ), using the Luther melody and Christmas text. Ten years later, while Bach was searching out chorales for the Christmas Oratorio, he may have conveyed the Luther Epiphany alternate verse setting, "Was fürchst du Feind, Herodes, sehr" (What are you so afraid, Enemy Herod), and possibly the entire original Latin hymn to his poet. Thus, we not only have the biblical influences in the BWV 248VI text but the chorale ones as well. Bach cast a wide net to achieve a well-order church music.

The Martin Luther chorale Bacused for the 1724 Second Day of Christmas, chorale Cantata BWV 121, "Christum wir sollen loben schon" has a connection to Epiphany with its second title, "Was fürchst du Feind, Herodes, sehr." Its text is based on the early Latin hymn, A solis ortus cardine (From the point where the sun rises), which recounts the life of Christ from the Incarnation to the Ascension and is found in liturgical manuscripts from the 10th century onwards. The Latin original and Luther versions and Francis Browne English translations are found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale002-Eng3.htm. The beginning is divided into sections for different liturgical occasions: the first seven strophes were used for Christmas, the next four (beginning `Hostis Herodes impie') for Epiphany, and the following four (beginning `Katerva matrum personat') for the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Herod's slaughter of the infants), as well as the Baptism of Jesus the Wedding Feast at Cana — all key elements in Epiphany Time. Melody information is found at http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Christum-wir.htm; additional information, https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_solis_ortus_cardine&prev=search.

After the initial 1524 congregational Advent-Christmas hymn, Luther in 1543 used the same melody(now Zahn 361) to a new text from the same Latin source (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Guide/BWV121-Kim.pdf), for the five stanza Epiphany setting, "Was fürchst du Feind, Herodes, sehr," in the Wittenberg hymnal (German text, https://hymnary.org/text/was_fuerchtest_du_feind_herodes_sehr; English translation http://www.lutheranchoralebook.com/texts/why-fearest-thou-foe-herod-so/). It is found in the NLGB as No. 50 for the Feast of Epiphany.

Bach set "Was fürchst du Feind, Herodes, sehr" as an organ chorale prelude fughetta, BWV 696 from the Kirnberger Collection (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XYDOrvVzFA, compiled by Bach student, Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783). Obviously, as the compiler of the copy while putting in the alternate title (1739-41), Kirnberger had some knowledge of Luther's adaptation (1524) of the original Latin hymn, or at least Bach's sources. From collateral evidence, we may infer that Bach knew the chorale about 1700/17, and specifically to 1713/15 (latter date ref. setting BWV 611, Orgelbüchlein setting, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyFXSrQ1yKs).

Enemy Plotting, Bridegroom Indwelling

The "plotting of the enemies" is the focus, as the opening movement proclaims, (Lord, when our arrogant enemies snort with rage), says Markus Rathey.3 Against this is "the eschatological hope that at the end of times the enemies of Christ and his followers will be overcome once and for all." The second focus is "the consoling presence of Christ in the believer's heart," he says (Ibid.: 351), found in the opening chorus "firm faith" and "trust in you," as well as the return of the bridegroom in the tenor accompagnato (No. 61-8), reaffirming the unio mystica (mystical union) with the believer, inhabitatio (indwelling) in the human heart, the perpetual second advent. There seems to be an anomaly as the text is usually sung by an alto voice as the bride, as in the first accompagnato, "Nun wird mein liebster Bräutigam" (Now my dearest bridegroom). "The highly emotional and agitated affect of the text — the confession of love and the expression of contempt for the enemy — inspires Bach to an equally agitated setting," says Rathey (Ibid.: 374), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLHqmInG458. Further, the succeeding tenor aria (No. 62-9), "Nun mögt ihr stolzen Feinde schrecken" (Now, you arrogant enemies, may try to scare me), is identical in structure and theme with the opening chorus.

Previously, in the soprano pairing of accompagnato and aria (Nos. 56-57, 3-4 Part VI), the dishonesty of Herod and his attempt to bring down the new, usurping King, is amplified in the aria where "the highest" puts "an end to the pride of his enemies." The symbolic three gifts of the Magi (Matt. 2:11, Nos. 58-5) are gold for royal office, the bitter taste of myrrh symbolic of Christ's sacrifice and high priestly office, and frankincense as the prayerful symbol of the divine nature of Christ, explains Rather (Ibid.: 370). These are accepted by the believers in the congregational chorale (No. 59-6), "Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier" (I stand here and your crib). The use of the associated melody, Luther's "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" (Now rejoice dear Christians all), emphasizes Luther's teaching of "Christ as the ground of faith" in his Doctrine of Justification: and the distinction between Law and Gospel, found in the Pauline Theology of his Letter to the Romans, says Robin A. Leaver.4 "The confessional nature of the hymn in epitomizing the essence of evangelical faith and life is reflected in the various headings in the hymnbooks during Luther's life": "grace of God and right faith," "total Christian Life," "how a sinner comes to grace," and "thanks for the highest blessings God in Christ has rendered us," says Leaver (Ibid.: 164f).

The final chorale chorus "now specifically names the source of evil," says Rathey (Ibid.: 361), reinforcing the tri-partite temporal (coming) structure of the entire oratorio with three enemies: Herod threatening Jesus in the first coming of Incarnation; the enemies of the faithful in the perpetual second coming of Jesus Christ in the spirit; and the arch-enemies at the end of time in Christ's third symbolic advent or coming in judgement.

Notes on Text

The theme of the Church Militant through Persecution and Tribulation, ending in eschatological atonement and victory, is emphasized throughout the final Epiphany Cantata in the Christmas Oratorio, with its opening chorus theme (No. 54-1), "Escape from murderous foe assured by God's help," says Melvin P. Unger in his study of textual allusions.5 The other non-narrative madrigalian and chorale movements are described by Unger as follows: No 56-3, soprano accompagnato, "Herod's deceitful heart is known to the Son"; No. 57-4, soprano aria, "Mortal Schemes easily overthrown by God"; No. 59-6, chorale, "Gift I bring to Christ in manger is my very self; No. 61-8, tenor accompagnato, "Jesus remains with me though the wise men depart"; No. 62-9, tenor aria, "Foe cannot hurt me if Jesus is with me"; No. 63-10, SATB recitative, "Hell can do nothing; we are in Jesus' hands"; No. 64-11, chorale chorus, "Foes have all been conquered in Christ."

In the opening chorus (No. 54-1), the dictum reference to "stolzen Feinde" (insolent enemies) is repeated in both arias, having rich Old Testament allusions, says Michael Marrisen in his insightful oratorio study of oratorio texts.6 The "insolent enemies" comes from Psalm 86:14, "the insolent rise up against me," and derives from the Hebrew word `zed," meaning both "presumptuous" and "insolent." The word "schnauben" (snort), says Marissen, relates to Jeremiah 8:16, "concerning the enemy approach, `One heard their horses snorting'."

In the first, soprano arioso (No. 56-3), "You cheat, you only seek the Lord to bring him down," an extensive biblical-historical footnote, Marissen concludes (Ibid.: 24): "there is a great deal of depravity among the Herodians, and the Christmas Oratorio librettist may have used the language of Mark 6 because of this: just like Herodias has it in later for John (the Baptist, Mark 6:19), so does Herod now for Jesus."

In the succeeding soprano ar(No. 57-4), "Just a wave of your hand / Casts down the powerless strength of men," the music has a "pronounced dance character with a clear, periodic phrase structure. Indeed the ritornellos (A, B, C) can easily be united to absorbed Bach's form an instrumental movement for strings and oboe d'amore. . . would take the form A-BC-ABC," says Alfred Dürr.7 With its ¾ tempo, it could have the influence of a polonaise . . . . The rhythmic uplifts and pauses on the weak beats suggest Lombard rhythm which invested Bach's vocal music throughout the 1730s, according to Gerhardt Herz.8 Marissen points out again (Ibid.) the textual reference to "the insolence of his enemies" so that "the plan of mortals" will be "cut short," a reference to Psalm 33:10, where "The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to nought, and cuts short the plans of the peoples."

Gerhardt Manger Chorale

The chorale (No. 59-6), "Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier" (I stand here and your crib), an Epiphany song of Paul Gerhardt which were first published in Johann Crüger's hymnal Praxis Pietatis Melica (Berlin 1653) to the Martin Luther melody, "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" (Now rejoice dear Christians all), an incarnation ballad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ich_steh_an_deiner_Krippen_hier).9 Bach used the Luther 1529 melody (Zahn 4429a) and Gerhardt text, the first of 15 stanzas, in the Christmas Oratorio, describing the bringing of gold, incense and myrrh, which represents for the believer "mein Geist und Sinn, Herz, Seel und Mut" (my spirit and mind, / Heart, soul and courage, BWV 248/59-6, http://www.bach-chorales.com/BWV0248_59.htm, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcQX56Q_Q90). It is the not in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682 but Bach's source could have been the Dresdener Gesangbuch of 1725 (No. 40), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 396).

The Gerhardt text also is found in the Schemelli Gesangbuch (1736), No. 195, "For the Birth of Jesus Christ," BWV 469, set to a different ?Bach melody (Zahn 4663) in c minor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2f3_jtOgpo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbaKO0N6DPI, melody http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/BWV469.htm).

"Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" was Luther's first congregational chorale, composed in 1523 with its emphasis on Luther's Doctrine of Justification and Theology of the Cross. The melody of this chorale is "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein" is found in organ chorale prelude BWV 734. "The melody is said to be derived by Luther from a song `Wach auf, wach auf du schoene' (http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/luther-the-hymns-of-martin-luther). Listed in the Orgelbüchlein for the Lord's Supper, No. 85, but not set, it is set in the Miscellaneous chorale prelude, BWV 755 and used without text in Cantata BWV 70 (Sunday before Advent 1723), in No. 8, trumpet solo, "Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit," the alternate title.

Final Four Movements

The final four-movement sequence (Nos.61-64), parodied directly from the final four movements of its sacred predecessor, has the musical ingredients of an Italian opera dramatic concluding scena: solo arioso and aria, quartet commentary, and extended conclusion. The tenor's proclamatory arioso (No. 61-8, "Go then! It is enough that my treasure does not depart from here," is punctuated with instrumental interjections and reveals a panoply of emotions involving relief, conviction, tenderness, love, and assurance. Marissen shows how certain biblical words support these. "I will also not let him [free] from me./ His arm will embrace me out of love" relates to Song of Songs 3:4, "I hold him and will not let him go," and Luke 1:51,"He exercised dominion with his arm." The conclusion -- "and if I anxiously beseech you:/ `Lord, save [me]!,' then let me see salvation!" - refers to Psalm 55:2,5, "God . . . do not hide yourself from my beseeching" and Psalm 118.25, "O Lord, save [us] . . . ."

In the succeeding tenor aria (No. 62-9), "Now, you arrogant enemies," the swaying, pulsating music, with an occasional hold, is similar to the tenor aria with the same wind trio accompaniment (two oboes and bassoon), "Ach windet euch" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFAn3n3Avgs), in the 1725 version of the St. John Passion Oratorio. Textually, the Epiphany aria begins with the third reference to the dictum, the "insolent enemies."

The "closing chorale, as the conclusion of the entire oratorio, surpasses all the preceding chorale movements in splendor and dimensions," says Dürr (Ibid.). The melody is the "Passion Chorale," "Herzlich tut mich verlangen." The substitute text is by Georg Werner (1648). Textually, the closing movement, citing the "Feinde" (enemies) again, "identifies the four eschatological enemies of humankind in the fifth line, "death, devil, sin, hell," points out Marissen. Bach's harmonization of the chorale melody, as in the previous setting (No. 6[59]), shows Bach's seasoned mastery, notably the rhythmic strength and seeming polyphonic, imitative complexity in the lower three voices.

Dürr assumes that the madrigalian movements "must have been remodeled in various ways." In his Preface to the Baerenreiter edition (1961) from the NBA, Dürr says: "The alterations which this revision necessitated perhaps made Picander unwilling to publish the (XO) text under his own name."

Passion Reference, Closing Chorale

"In the final recitative (No. 63-10), all four soloists enter with a theme [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LspOcxq43PA] that is closely related to the fanfare motive that breaks out at bar 19 in the alto aria 'Es ist vollbracht' of the St. John Passion" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_QAoanXntw, 3:33), observes Robin A. Leaver.10 "Here agin is another link between Incarnation and Atonement in the finale chorale, a celebratory setting of the melody, Herzlich tut mich verlangen, the 'Passion chorale'" (http://www.bach-chorales.com/BWV0248_64.htm, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzYCoGvJtwE). "That Bach deliberately intended a passion reference here has been called into question, since the melody was used with other hymn texts. But at least in Leipzig hymnals in Bach's time, the other hymn texts sung to the melody all had passion connections."

Bach sets this melody to the fourth verse, "Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen" (Now you are well avenged) of the Georg Werner (1580-1645) of his six 8-line stanza Christmas Song, "Ihr Christen auserkoren" (You chosen Christians),11 set to the melody, "Valet will ich dir geben," and published in the Hannoversches Gesangbuch 1657. Bach's text source may have been the Freibergere Gesangbuch of 1733, No. 132, says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 402).

"Werner was born in 1589 at Preussisch-Holland, near Elbing," says Charles S. Terry.12 "In 1614 he became master in a school at Konigsberg, and in 1621 was appointed deacon of the Lobenicht Church there. He died at Konigsberg in 1643. He edited the New Preussisches vollstandiges Gesangbuch (Konigsberg, 1650 [1643]), and contributed Hymns to Bernhard Derschau’s Ausserlesene Geistliche Lieder, Konigsberg, 1639. The Hymn “Ihr Christen auserkoren” was published in Johann Cruger’s Praxis Pietatis Melica (Berlin, 1647)."

Bach's uses of the Passion melody include BWVs 135.6, 153.5, 161.6, 244.15, 244.17, 244.44, 244.54, 244.62, 248.5, 270, 2. CPE Bach, in his collections of four-part chorales gives the melody as "Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder" specifically for the setting of BWV 248/64, and is so titled in Johann Ludwig Dietel's 1735 setting as No. 122. The melody is set to Paul Gerhardt's 1653 12-stanza penitential hymn, "Befiehl du deine Wege" (Entrust you way), and Bach sets Stanza 5, "Und ob gleich alle Teufel" (And even if all the devils), as a plain chorale in Cantata 153/5, "Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind" Behold, dear God, how my enemies), for the Sunday after New Year's 1724 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmMO45dN2p0). "Also well suited for the settings of the Sunday after New Year and its Cantata 153 is the Gerhardt hymn, "Befiehl du deine Wege," says Güther Stiller.13

Compositional Features, Commentary

Bach's Christmas Oratorio mixed style (stile misto) (mixed style, a blend of gallant arias, interpretive accompagnati solos, and motet-like polyphonic choruses, made it his "first, grandest, and most important" of his oratorios, based on parody, particularly in the final Epiphany Cantata great opening and closing choruses and central, dance-style soprano aria, observes Richard D. P. Jones in his study of Bach's compositional style.14 The opening chorus is one of the strongest, most massive and well-integrated of all Bach's cantata choruses" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQNodYPmNhk), combining fugue, ritornello, and reprise forms (Ibid.: 312f). The soprano aria (No. 57-4) is a complete, expanded binary dance in polonaise rhythm (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPFvKlUxSQM). The tenor aria (No. 62-9) is dance-like in 2/4, found throughout the oratorio (Nos. 8, 19, 31, 47, 51, 62), possibly bouree-like (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVi4DCBWe6Q). The recitative quartet (No. 63-10) "sums up the sentiments of Part VI" "in a quite (thematic, imitative) exceptional form" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrWelSHMqME), the only real parallel being the Christe in the Missa: Kyrie-Gloria in A Major, BWV 234 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoTWZP8Ycx0, 3:22). The closing chorale chorus (No. 64-11) is a "magnificent finale" to both Part VI and the entire oratorio (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucqnSxqzM9o).

"The overall tone of the Christmas Oratorio is immensely warm and light, meticulous in its contrapuntal detail, wide-ranging in its melodies and with startling moments of unexpected charm," such as the return of the pastorale oboe quartet at the end of Part 2 chorale (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9imn-c5xUyA), says Peter Williams.15 "The musical survey is so comprehensive as to make it clear that in both the new and old recycled movements Bach was endeavoring to find fresh approaches," says Williams. Given Bach's use of most of the aria and chorus movements from BWV 213 and 214 and their proximity to the Christmas Oratorio, it is possible that they "were already earmarked for parody at the time of their composition," says Jones (Ibid.: 309).

Within the liturgical context of the church year calendar, the six cantatas constitute a "a story with a continuous narrative" in "a great new work," says Martin Geck.16 Bach is "a composer who thinks theologically, using beautiful new secular music as a key to open a portal to a new genre of sacred music." Bach "employed the greatest artistic discretion, moreover, in the way he approached parody" in "music integrated in style and well suited to the festive, warm, and generally bright tone associated with Christmas."

The basic theme of the last cantata is "The victory over death and sin," says Ignace Bossuyt.17 The Passion chorale melody first played in the opening Nativity cantata to Paul Gerhardt's question, "Wie soll ich dich empfangen" (O Lord, how shall I meet You?, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPByMcoof6c), is answered in the closing chorale chorus, "confidently and definitively": "Christ the bridegroom has found his sure dwelling place in the hearts of all believers, Christ the Redeemer has triumphed o ver death, Fir each individual and for all humanity, redemption is at hand."

Of special note are various recording liner notes for the Christmas Oratorio: the 1982 notes of Matthias Hengeklbrock, "I stand beside your manger here," Nikolaus Harnoncourt Deutsche Grammophon video, https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Christmas-Weihnachtsoratorium-Peter-Schreier/dp/B000B8ISP0); Werner Breig 1987 notes, John Eliot Gardiner on Archiv (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV248-Gardiner.htm, V-4); the 2000 Andreas Bomba "Overcoming materialistic thinking: Bach's Christmas Oratorio," Helmut Rilling on Hänssler (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV248-Rilling.htm, V-2); and John Butt's 2016 notes on Linn records (http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-bach-christmas-oratorio.aspx, View the booklet in full here). Of special note is Uri Golomb's 2007, Bach's Oratorios, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Articles/Bach-Oratorios-Golomb.pdf.

Lost Sacred Cantata Source18

<<With the Christmas season fast approaching and wanting to produce a sixth part for his Christmas Oratorio, ending with the Feast of Epiphany, Bach turned to a recent festive sacred cantata of unknown origin, BWV 248a, and adapted it wholesale through parody: opening chorus, three accompanied recitatives, two arias, and the closing chorale chorus. He composed three interspersed narrative movements and a central four-part chorale, providing a basic structure similar to the other five-parts of the oratorio.

The original cantata was initially explored by Klaus Häfner.19 The evidence survives in four doublet parts -- found in the Christmas Oratorio performing parts set -- for two violins, continuo (organ), and basso continuo transposed elaboration in Bach's hand. The copyist of the three other duplicate parts was Rudolph Straube, one of the nine copyists for BWV 215 (early October 1734). Since the organ part has a closing chorale movement, it is a sacred work. The scoring of the XO Part 6 includes three trumpets, as do three other XO Parts, 1, 3 and 5, suggesting a festive occasion for the original sacred cantata.

The opening chorus is a parody of the opening chorus of a lost Congratulatory Cantata for the Birthday of Saxon Court Minister in Leipzig, Joachim Friedrich Graft von Flemming., BWV Anh. 10, "So kämpfet nur, ihr muntern Töne" (Contend ye then, ye tones so lively, by Z. Philip Ambrose), performed on 31 August 31 1731.20 The "meter and the affect do indeed fit this earlier text," says Rathey (Ibid.: 354), since some "of the movements might even have a history that predates the sacred version from 1734," he says.

Häfner had suggested a possible origin of BWV 248a in a Thanksgiving Service for the War of Polish Succession, 6 July 1734, at the Nikolas Church. There is no record of any music being presented at service, although the occasion and the music of BWV 248a is reminiscent of Handel's "Dettingen Te Deum" of 1743. Häfner considers less likely as the occasion a wedding service or the Town Council Service in late August 1734. He prefers the possibility of another Dresden-related event, the Festive Service of Allegiance to August III, April 21, 1733, also at the Thomas Church. This event also was considered as the possible site for first performance of the B-Minor Missa (Kyrie-Gloria), BWV 232I. There also is no record of the music at this service. A special 1734 Michaelmas Fair church performance of BWV 248a, was held on Wednesday, September 29, at almost the same time (Tuesday, October 5) as BWV 215 in honor of the visiting Saxon Court. Because the opening chorus of BWV 248VI is a "musical battle scene," says Rathey (Ibid.: 357), and the closing chorale allusion to atonement for sin says, a previous work for the feast of St. Michael is most appropriate, as well as the undocumented Thanksgiving service (6 July 1734), although technically, the war did not officially end until the peace negotiations in December 1735.21

Like BWV 215/8 (arioso for tenor, bass and soprano), "Lass doch, o teurer Landesvater" (Therefore grant, o dear father of your country), also the penultimate movement in BWV 248VI, No. 10 is an elaborate, accompanied recitative for multiple voices, reminiscent of the same movement type and placement in the SMP, BWV 244/77(67). Although these ensembles have overtones of an opera seria scena-finale, Bach's purpose seems more an intimate, concise summation preparatory to the closing chorus (source (9/28/08): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV215-D2.htm).

In retrospect, it seems that the ever-calculating Bach deliberately created the earlier work, probably designed for a service of allegiance or thanksgiving for the Dresden Court, enraptured of Italian Opera. Bach then easily converted the music in totality through parody to the closing of his Christmas Oratorio, adding the biblical narrative to confirm its status as an oratorio, and the central chorale to bolster its structure and further engage the congregation. We could assume that Picander was the poet of the initial cantata but, like the XO, did not have the texts published under his name because of the extensive changes Bach made. In the end, Bach had his cake and consumed it, too. It was a truly serendipitous situation as only Bach could realize it!>>

FOOTNOTES

1 Christmas Oratorio, Part 6, Details & Discography, BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Vocal/BWV248.htm. Score Vocal & Piano, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Scores/BWV248-6-V&P.pdf; Score BGA, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BGA/BWV248-6-BGA.pdf. References: BGA V/2 (BWV 248, Wilhelm Rust,1856), NBA KB II/6 (BWV 248, Walter Blankenburg/Alfred Dürr, 1962), Bach Compendium BC D 7, Zwang K 195).
2 Martin Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 389).
3 Markus Rathey, Chapter 11, "The Bridegroom and the Enemy (Part VI)," Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: Music, Theology, Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016: 349ff). The aria "is both a celebration of the victory over the enemy and an invocation of Jesus as the refuge," says Rathey (Ibid.: 378). "The inhabitatio Christi, the dwelling of Jesus in the human heart and the resting of man in the hands of Jesus, leads to victory in the eschatological battle," says Rathey (Ibid.: 379).
4 Robin A. Leaver, Chapter 11, "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein," in Luther's Liturgical Music: Principals and Implications (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmanns Publishing, 2007: 163).
5 Unger, Handbook to Bach Sacred Cantata Texts: An Interlinear Translation with Reference Guide to Biblical Quotations and Allusions (Lanham MD. Scarecrow Press, 1996: 727-732).
6 Cited in Michael Marissen: Bach's Oratorios: The Parallel German-English Texts With Annotations (Oxford University Press, 2008, 23ff).
7 Alfred Dürr, The Cantatas of J. S. Bach, ed. & trans. Richard D.P. Jones (Oxford & New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2005: 181f).
8 Gerhardt Hertz, "Lombard Rhythm in Bach's Vocal Music," in Herz, Essays on J. S. Bach, Studies in Musicology 73 (Ann Arbor MI: UMI Research Press, 1985: 252f). Also cited in Rathey (Ibid.: 252).
9 Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) biography, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Gerhardt.htm; German text (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale469-Eng3.htm; English (on-line) translation, http://www.lutheranchoralebook.com/texts/i-stand-before-thy-manger-fair/); "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein," English translation, http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh387.htm.
10 Robin A. Leaver, "Music as Proprium: The Christmas Oratorio," Chapter 7, "The mature vocal works and their theological and liturgical context," in Cambridge Companion to Bach, ed. John Butt (Cambridge Univ. Press 1997: 86ff). For details and Bach's uses of the melody see http://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/Befiehl-du-deine-Wege.htm, known as "Befiehl du deine Wege" (melody #1), by Hans Leo Hassler (1601) (Zahn 5385a).
For an opposing view, see Markus Rathey (https://books.google.com/books?id=UHDADAAAQBAJ&pg=PA360&lpg=PA360&dq=%22Ihr+Christen+auserkoren%22&source=bl&ots=gW-MUVx0dD&sig=ZXa0KQGIFCAIocZvwf0ytN6YMCA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiArez8s9PYAhVC9mMKHZh1B3kQ6AEIWTAJ#v=onepage&q=%22Ihr%20Christen%20auserkoren%22&f=false.
11 "Ihr Christen auserkoren" German text, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale070-Eng3.htm, English translation, https://hymnary.org/hymn/CWLH1993/19.
12 Charles S. Terry, Bach’s Chorals, Part I: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the “Passions” and Oratorios, (Cambridge University Press, 2018: 53ff), http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2055: 61).
13 Güther Stiller, Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, ed. Robin A. Leaver, trans. Herbert J. A. Bouman, etc. (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1984: 237).
14 Richard D. P. Jones, The Creative Development of Johann Sebastian Bach, Vol. II, 1717-1750, "Music to Delight the Spirit" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013: 307ff).
15 Peter Williams, Chapter 9, Leipzig, the middle years: other activities," in Bach: A Musical Biography (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2016: 359).
16 Martin Geck, "Secular Cantatas and the Christmas Oratorio," in Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work, trans. John Hargraves (Orlando FL: Harcourt Inc., 2006: 423).
17 Ignace Bossuyt, Johann Sebastian Bach Christmas Oratorio, trans. Stratton Bull (Leuven University Press, 2004: 158).
18 Original source: BWV 248, Discussions in the Week of November 1, 2009, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/VD/BWV248-Part6.htm.
19 Klaus Häfner, "Zum Problem der Entstehungsgeschichte von BWV 248a" (The Problem of the Origin History of BWV 248a), Die Musikforschung 30 (1977: 304-8).
20 This parody was first suggested by Friedrich Smend in "Neue Bach-Funde," Arckiv für Musikwissenschaft 7 (1942: 8-10), and was explored in NBA KB II/6: 166, 215ff (Ibid., Footnote 1).
21 Rathey cites Ulrich Siegele "Das Parodieverfahren des Weihnachtsoratoriums von J. S. Bachs als dispositionelles Problem, in Eine Festschrift für Ludwig Finscher (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1995: 259-266). Rathey (Ibid.: 352) prefers the Michaelmas date for BWV 248a, citing Andreas Glöc, "Eine Michaeliskantate als Parodievorlage für den sechsten Teil des Bachsen Weihnachts-Oratoriums, in Bach-Jahrbuch 96 (2000: 318). I also suggest that the lost Cantata BWV 248a could have been performed for the annual Town Council inauguration, August 25, 1734. No other Bach cantata is documented for that date.

William Hoffman wrote (January 20, 2018):
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248VI: Epiphany Festival, Chorale

Epiphany Feast, Chorale

During Epiphany Time in Leipzig, Bach focused his chorale settings on “Jesus Hymns” and omnes tempore thematic chorales in his setting of cantatas for this otherwise de tempore first half of the church year on major events in the presence of Jesus Christ on earth. Christmas chorales were performed from Christmas to the Feast of Purification (February 2). One of three municipal annual fairs, the least known, for winter, was observed during Epiphany Time, beginning with Feast of Epiphany (January 6), the others being Spring starting at Jubilate (Second Sunday after Easter), and Fall, staring on the Feast of Michael and All Angels (September 28). The mix or overlapping of chorales during the entire period from Christmas to Purification is best demonstrated in Martin Luther’s two settings of the large, Christological 5th century Latin Hymn, A solis ortus cardine (From the point where then sun rises): “Christum wir sollen loben schon” (We should now praise Christ) for Christmas and “Was fürchst du Fiend Herodes, sehr” (Herod, why dreadest thou a foe?) for Epiphany.

The Leipzig NLGB of 1682 and Wagner Hymnal of 1697 list “Auf das Fest der Heiligen Drei Könige”[For the Feast Day of the Holy 3 Kings]. The hymns included are: “Hostis Herodes impie”; “Was fürchst du Feind Herodes sehr” [a translation from the Latin by Martin Luther]; “Als Jesus geboren war zu Herodes Zeiten [Michael Weiss - this has 11 verses].” The NLGB also lists (p.292) “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” and other Christmas songs (und andere Weih.-Lieder) that can be sung through the Purification Feast (February 2). During Epiphany Time, Bach focused on so-called pietist “Jesus Hymns,” particularly in the Schemelli Gesangbuch, BWV 439-508 of 1736, using 18 of 25, the remainder being free-standing plain chorales, BWV 252-438.

Bach set any one the three preferred hymns relating to Herod for the Epiphany Feast (Am Tage der Weisen aus Morgenland, NLGB): Luther’s “Was fürchst du Fiend Herodes, sehr” (Zahn 297), is the alternative hymn, Luther’s c.1524 “Christum wir sollen loben schon” (We should now praise Christ), a vesper hymn for the 2nd Day of Christmas in Leipzig, says Günther Stiller, Ibid.: 222).

Bach set “Christum wir sollen loben schon” as a chorale cantata, BWV 121 for the Second day of Christmas 1724 (BCML Discussions, Part 4, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV121-D4.htm. “The passage of Elizabeth’s greeting to her cousin Mary (Luke 1:44), who also is pregnant, is a paraphrase of Luther’s German translation of Stanza 5 of the Sedulius 5th century Latin Christmas hymn, A solis ortus cardine, Zahn 297c (“John recognised and leapt for joy when he was shut in his mother’s womb” The Latin text, Luther’s translation, and Francis Browne’s English translation of both are found at BCW http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale002-Eng3.htm; A solis ortus cardine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_solis_ortus_cardine.

Bach also set Luther’s hymn (anonymous melody, 1524), as an Orgelbüchlein chorale prelude, No. 14, BWV 611. The alternative title and a shared concluding doxology, “Was fürchst du Fiend Herodes, sehr” (Herod, why dreadest thou a foe?) is Luther’s adaptation of the second part of the same Latin hymn, beginning “Hostis Herodes impie.” The first line Bach set as a “Kirnberger Chorale,” BWV 696. A solis ortus cardine is a “much longer acrostic hymn on the whole of Christ,” says “Liturgy and Hymns,” Vol. 53, Luther’s Works, ed. Ulrich S. Leupold (Philadelphia PA: Fortress Press, 1965: 302). “It dealt with the traditional themes of the Epiphany: the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus and the wedding feast of Cana." Luther’s five-stanza hymn, “Was fürchst du Fiend Herodes, sehr,” was published in 1543.

The first three stanzas for Christmas Nativity of A solis ortus cardine are part of Erhardt Bodenschatz’s anthology collection, Florilegium selectissimorum Hymnorium published in 1594, and a smaller version of "Florilegium Portense" motet collection. These hymns were performed on high feast days at the beginning of services in Leipzig’s St. Thomas and St. Nikolai, directed by Bach. This setting is sung by the Tomanerchor Leipzig, directed by Georg Christoph Biller, on Rondeau recording of Christmas time Cantatas 63, 110, and 190. The recording track (Nos. 1, 8, 15) is available on Amazon, MP-3, at Amazon.com, BCW Recording details, http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Biller.htm#D2.

Source: "Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Motets & Chorales for Epiphany Time," http://www.bach-cantatas.com/LCY/M&C-Epiphany-Time.htm.

 

Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 (1734-1735): Details
Complete Recordings: 1900-1949 | 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2019 | Recordings of Individual Movements
General Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
Systematic Discussions: Cantata 1 | Cantata 2 | Cantata 3 | Cantata 4 | Cantata 5 | Cantata 6 | Part 7: Summary Individual Recordings: BWV 248 – Collegium Aureum | BWV 248 - H. Christophers | BWV 248 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 248 - N. Harnoncourt | BWV 248 - P. Herreweghe | BWV 248 - R. Jacobs | BWV 248 - N. McGegan | BWV 248 - R. Otto | BWV 248 - K. Richter | BWV 248 - H. Rilling | BWV 248 - P. Schreier | BWV 248 - M. Suzuki | BWV 248 - K. Thomas | BWV 248 - J.v. Veldhoven
Articles: A Bottomless Bucket of Bach - Christmas Oratorio [D. Satz] | BWV 248/19 “Schlafe, mein Liebster” - A Background Study with Focus on the Colla Parte Flauto Traverso Part [T. Braatz]


Recordings & Discussions of Other Vocal Works: Main Page | Motets BWV 225-231 | Mass in B minor BWV 232 | Missae Breves & Sanctus BWV 233-242 | Magnificat BWV 243 | Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | Johannes-Passion BWV 245 | Lukas-Passion BWV 246 | Markus-Passion BWV 247 | Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 | Oster-Oratorium BWV 249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-523 | Quodlibet BWV 524 | Aria BWV 1127



 

Back to the Top


Last update: Monday, February 05, 2018 23:05