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Cantata BWV 1
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of March 22, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (March 21, 2015):
Discussion BWV 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,

Using Philipp Nicolai’s popular 1597 Epiphany chorale, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, (How beautifully shines the morning star), Bach’s choral Cantata BWV 1 for the Feast of Annunciation of Mary, is one of Bach’s most pleasing and striking works. It is scored for an ensemble of pastoral instruments – two horns and two oboes oboes da caccia – with concertante and ripieno violins – playing appropriate dance-style music in the expansive opening choral fantasia and the two extended arias. Cantata 1, lasting about 25 minutes, is in the typical balanced form of many of the previous chorale cantatas with chorus opening fantasia and closing plain chorale movements set to unaltered text and paraphrases of the internal stanzas involving the alternating tenor and bass secco recitatives with alternating soprano and tenor arias, omitting the alto voice.1

As Bach’s last of 40 consecutive chorale cantatas, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Bach’s second cycle, 1724-24, ends abruptly and various theories for the reason have focused on the loss of the librettist doing the paraphrases of the internal stanzas of each chosen chorale. More recently, Bach scholars have suggested that Bach simply decided to stop and at Easter season take up again the first cycle (1723-24) type chorus and solo cantatas again (see Julian Mincham Commentary, below, and notes from Eric Chafe’s J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725).

Cantata 1 is described as this “jubilant spring-time cantata” for the dual celebration of Annunciation and Psalm Sunday, March 25, 1725, says John Eliot Gardiner (see commentary below), observing “the inventive and masterly way Bach wove his contrapuntal textures around one of the most stirring and best-known Lutheran hymns. The scoring is opulent, regal and ‘eastern’, redolent of the Epiphany cantata BWV 65 Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen.”

“The lesson and gospel passage for this day are closely related” and the chorale “is one of the most beautiful in the rich stock of the Evangelical Church,” says scholar Klaus Hofmann in his commentary below. The Readings are: Epistle: Isaiah 7: 10-16 (Behold, a virgin shall conceive); Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38 (Gabriel salutes [hails] Mary), Complete biblical text is the Martin Luther German translation (1545), with the English translation Authorised (King James) Version [KJV] 1611; for complete texts, see BCW Readings,

Other scholars describe Cantata 1 as saying the unknown “librettist must be credited with the empathy which he shows for that fervour which characterises Nicolai’s poem” with a libretto that is “thoughtful and appealing” (Alfred Dürr The Cantatas of J. S. Bach in Francis Browne’s “Notes on the Text” below), as well as the description of the cantata’s “opulent score” with striking recitatives and arias “most delightful and tuneful” (W. Gillies Whittaker Cantatas of JSB: II, 104, 108), and the chorale’s usage “in a much-wider context by many German Baroque composers, including Bach” with an opening chorale fantasia that is “a veritable tour-de-force in which Bach’s consummate skill and inspirational genius are a source of wonder and satisfaction (Ncholas Anderson, “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,” OCC: JSB: 525).

The Feast of Annunciation of Mary Introit Psalm, will be listed in the pending publication of Martin Petzoldt’s Bach-Kommentar Band 3 - Die Passionen, Motetten, Messen und Magnificat, geistliche Kantaten für Kasualien und ohne Bestimmung (Kassel u.a.: Bärenreiter).

Cantata 1 Text and Chorale

The Cantata 1 text involves Philipp Nicolai (Mvts. 1, 7 unaltered), and the Anonymous librettist (Mvts. 2-6 paraphrased), see Francis Browne English Translation, It is possible that Bach utilized four different librettists for the final four chorale cantatas composed for Cycle 2, with their texts published in a typical church libretto (text-book). According to the Harald Streck 1971 Hamburg dissertation,< Die Verskunst in den poetischen Texten zu den Kantaten JSB> (ref. Arthur Hirsch, "JSB's Cantatas in Chronological Order," BACH, 1980: 18-27), the cantatas, their 1725 dates and librettists are: Purification (February 2), BWV 125, 3rd cantata group librettist; Sexagesima (February 4), BWV 126, no librettist identity; Estomihi (February 11), Cantata 127, 4th group librettist); and March 25 (Annunciation), BWV 1, 1st group librettist. This librettist, says Streck, was responsible for nine chorale cantatas, beginning with BWV 78, “Jesu, der du meine Seele, for the 14th Sunday after Trinity (9/10/1724), as well as BWV 8, 96, 5, 115, 26, 62, 124, and 1, as well as chorus Cantata BWV 181 (Sexagesima 1724).

"Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" with its utilitarian and cyclic influences is one of Bach's most utilized chorales in various formats. Its primary usage is for the 20th Sunday after Trinity, says Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.2 He points out, when it was "the hymn of the day in Leipzig and also enjoyed high priority in the Dresden hymn schedules around 1750." In Bach’s hymnbook Das neu Leipzgier Gesangbuch <NLGB> of 1682,3 it also is designated to be sung on the final 27th Sunday after Trinity. As hymn No. 313, it is found in the <omnes tempore> section, "Word of God & Christian Church," where it is described as the "wedding song of the heavenly Bridegroom of Jesus Christ," based on Psalm 45, <Ercutavit cor meum> (My heart is stirring with a noble song) to King David, as well as Solomon's Old Testament book, Song of Songs.

The author of both the seven-stanza, 10-line Bar-form text is Philipp Niccolai, dating to 1597, published with melody in his Frewden Spiegel dess ewigen Lebens ["Mirror of Joy of the Life Everlasting"] (Frankfort a. Main, 1599), says Charles Sanford Terry in his Bach Chorales, Vol. 2.4 Niccolai (1556-1608) BCW Short Biography is found at Francis Browne's BCW English translation of the chorale is found in Bach utilized all the verses and the melody is found in Cantatas: BWV 1/1, BWV 1/6, BWV 36/4, BWV 37/3, BWV 49/6, BWV 61/6, BWV 172/6, BWV Anh 199/3 for Annunciation Advent, Ascension, Trinity 20, and Pentecost respectively; in plain Chorale BWV 436; and in Miscellaneous Organ-chorale: BWV 739. Further information is found in Wikipedia:ön_leuchtet_der_Morgenstern.

Cantata 1 Movements, Scoring, Text (Browne translation), Key and Meter:5

1. Chorus fantasia (Stanza 1 unaltered), in two parts with opening and closing sinfonias [SATB; Corno I/II, Oboe da caccia I/II, Violino concertante I/II, Violino ripieno I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How beautifully shines the morning star); B. Du Sohn Davids aus Jakobs Stamm, / Mein König und mein Bräutigam, / Hast mir mein Herz besessen” (You son of David from the line of Jacob, / my king and my bridegroom, / have taken posession of my heart); F major; 12/8 pastorale-giga style.
2. Recitative secco (Stanza 2 paraphrased) [Tenor, Continuo]: “Du wahrer Gottes und Marien Sohn, / Du König derer Auserwählten, / Wie süß ist uns dies Lebenswort” (You true son of God and Mary, / you king of those you have chosen, / how delightful is your word of life); d minor to g minor; 4/4.
3. Aria free da-capo (Stanza 3, paraphrased), dal segno opening sinfonia [Soprano, Oboe da caccia, Continuo]: A. “Erfüllet,ihr himmlischen göttlichen Flammen, / Die nach euch verlangende gläubige Brust!” (Fill, you divine flames of heaven, / the faithful hearts that long for you!); B. “Die Seelen empfinden die kräftigsten Triebe / Der brünstigsten Liebe / Und schmecken auf Erden die himmlische Lust.” (Our souls feel the mightiest impulses / of the most ardent love / and taste on earth the delight of heaven.); B-flat major; 4/4. Generic dance style.
4. Recitative secco (Stanzas 4-5 paraphrased) [Bass, Continuo]: “Ein irdscher Glanz, ein leiblich Licht / Rührt meine Seele nicht; / Ein Freudenschein ist mir von Gott entstanden” (A glitter from the earth, a light from the body / does not move my soul; / there is a gleam of joy that comes to me from God); g minor to B-flat major; 4/4.
5. Aria da-capo (Stanza 6 paraphrased) [Tenor; Violino concertante I/II, Violino ripieno I/II, Viola, Continuo]: A. “Unser Mund und Ton der Saiten / Sollen dir / Für und für / Dank und Opfer zubereiten.”
(Our mouths and the sound of strings / should for you / for ever and ever / prepare thanks and sacrifice.); B. “Herz und Sinnen sind erhoben” (Our hearts and minds are lifted up); F major; 3/8 polonaise-mazurka style.

6. Chorale plain (Stanza 7 unaltered) [SATB]; Corno I e Violino I col Soprano, Corno II, Oboe I e Violino II coll'Alto, Oboe II e Viola col Tenore, Continuo): “Wie bin ich doch so herzlich froh” (How full I am therefore of heartfelt joy); F major, 4/4.
Note on the Text (Francis Browne): “This cantata is the last chorale cantata of the cycle of 1724 –5. The unidentified librettist has used one of the best-known Lutheran hymns as the basis of the text, Philipp Nicolai’s Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (1599). According to an old tradition this hymn was assigned to the feast of the Epiphany, but it was also sung at the Annunciation. As often the wording of the first and last verses has been preserved, while the remainder has been paraphrased. [Alfred] Dürr comments : ‘Altogether, the librettist must be credited with the empathy which he shows for that fervour which characterises Nicolai’s poem…. The librettist has, moreover, supplied Bach with verse which, if not inspired, is nonetheless thoughtful and appealing’.” (Information based on Dürr The Cantatas of J. S. Bach )6

Mincham’s Chorale Cycle Cessation Commentary

The abrupt end of the chorale cantata (second) cycle may have been doe primarily to internal forces, to Bach’s personal decision to simply end the cycle and return to the biblically-based text and musical form of the first cycle. The evidence is discussed at length in Julian Mincham’s Commentary Introduction, “Chapter 41 BWV 1 Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,” <<In retrospect, this cantata takes on a special significance because it was the last of the unbroken sequence of chorale fantasia cantatas before Bach interrupted his grand scheme (see chapter 1). Wolff (p 278) quotes the theory that Bach's librettist was Andreas Stübel who died on January 27th 1725. Because texts were prepared and authorized in advance and in batches, this meant that on Stübel's death Bach would have received approved libretti for Cs 125, 126, 127 and 1 and had probably completed the composition of C 92. These five works complete the set of forty.

But it is possible to make a different supposition. Might Bach's original intention have been to compose just forty chorale cantatas up until Easter 1725, thence leaving himself more latitude for the thirteen works required to complete his church year? Might he have tired of the self-imposed limitations of composing a large-scale chorale fantasia each week and positively welcomed the freedom of putting aside this stricture for the final two months of the cycle? There is evidence that suggests this as a possible or even likely scenario and several references to this matter are to be found throughout this volume.

C 20, which had begun the run of chorale fantasias, and C 1, which ended it, are both in F major. This may well have been coincidental of course; but there is also a possibility that it might have indicated a completion of events. The fact that the first cantata to break the pattern (C 4) could have adhered to the established pattern by dropping the opening sinfonia and rewriting the last few bars of the fantasia, further suggests that the forty initial cantatas may have been conceived as a cognate group.

And if a change of direction was Bach's intention, the important Easter celebrations would be an appropriate time to make it.

It is the case that Bach latterly composed a dozen chorale fantasia cantatas, often presumed to 'fill in the gaps' (Wolff p 280) but this plan may well have been an after-thought. Certainly Bach was in no hurry to complete the cycle in this way as the composition of these later works was spread over at least a decade.

What we can state with certainty, however, is that none of the thirteen remaining cantatas follows the exact format of the first forty. It is almost as if Bach deliberately went out of his way to break his established pattern. Additionally, it is only after C 1 that we find Bach borrowing from earlier works, most particularly the Easter Cantata C 4 (composed over a decade earlier and also resurrected in full for the first cycle) and parts of C 74. There is no evidence of parody or recycling in any of the movements of the initial forty chorale/cantatas.

But whatever the truth of the matter, we know that that Bach needed to provide six cantatas over the period of one month from March 30th 1725 (Cs 4, 6, 42, 85, 103 and 108). The usual cantata rehearsals and performances would have been ongoing in addition to those of the Saint John Passion (BWV 245) and the Easter Oratorio (C 249), and it is also likely that Bach was still revising the former work. Would it have been possible to have produced fantasias for each of these works of the length and standard of the first forty. Was it a case of Bach the pragmatist recognising his limitations and adapting to them?

Of course, some of the planning and composition would almost certainly have taken place in the musically sparse weeks of Lent during February and March. But April must still have been a particularly demanding and stressful period in Bach's life and it would have been little wonder that, with all this pressure and in addition to the fact that he may have been seeking and advising new librettists, he abandoned his grand scheme.

C 4 broke the pattern and its history is briefly outlined in the next chapter. It is, however, instructive to examine C 1 in conjunction with C 4 because the comparison shows clearly interesting facets of Bach's development as a composer.

It is, of course, entirely fitting that the joyousness of the Annunciation is reflected in the choice of major modes and they do dominate C 1. Only the two recitatives are set in the minor and even then, the second reverts to major. But it is really to the arias and choruses that we should turn when analysing Bach's tonal planning.>>

In 2011 Bach scholar Stephen Crist suggested to another Bach scholar, Eric Chafe, “that Bach may have intententionally ended of the chorale cantatas of 1724-25 with BWV 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,” says Chafe in his new book, J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725).8 Crist emphasized the numerology of 40. Cantata 1 was the 40th consecutive cantata in the series and came four days (March 25) before Bach’s 40th birthday near the end of the 40-day Lenten season with its serendipitous double celebration. With its great opening fantasia, Cantata 1, says Chafe, “it might be viewed as Bach ending the series with a tour de force so to speak.” “Based on Nicolai eschatological chorale, is ends with the lines, ” observes Chafe: “Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone, bleib nicht lange, / deiner wart ich mit Verlangen.” (Come, you sweet crown of joy, do not long delay, / I wait for you with longing). These lines also influenced Lutheran theologian Heinrch Müller and ’s Advent Cantata 61, Nun komm de Heiden Heiland, says Chafe’s note. Chafe’s book proposes that Bach may have been motivated by the Johannine theology of the St. John Passion, repeated at Good Friday, March 30, followed by the “post-Easters cantatas [that] might have been intended to form a coherent sequence.”

Jubilant Spring-Time Cantata’

Cantata 1 is described as this “jubilant spring-time cantata” for the dual celebration of Annunciation and Psalm Sunday, March 25, 1725, says Gardiner in his 2006 liner notes to the 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage recordings on Soli Deo Gloria. <<Annunciation cantata BWV 1 Wie schön leuchtet des Morgenstern, [was] first performed in Leipzig in 1725, a year in which the Feast of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday coincided. It does not need much imagination to gauge the importance of this dual celebration, coming as it did towards the end of the fasting period of Lent during which no music would have been heard in church. Bach’s second Jahrgang closed with this jubilant spring-time cantata (and might have been followed the next Friday by the first performance of the St Matthew Passion if only it had been completed on time). It was also the first cantata to be published in volume I (out of 45) of the Bach-Gesellschaft edition in 1850. One wonders what subscriber-composers like Schumann and Brahms must have made of the inventive and masterly way Bach wove his contrapuntal textures around one of the most stirring and best-known Lutheran hymns. The scoring is opulent, regal and ‘eastern’, redolent of the Epiphany cantata BWV 65 Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen which we performed in Leipzig a couple of months ago, both in instrumentation – horns, oboes da caccia and strings (but no recorders this time) – and in metre – a dignified 12/8 ceremonial in F major for the opening chorale fantasia [pastorale-giga]. It begins as an intimate Annunciation tableau, a gentle solo for the second violin answered by the whole band, then echoed in the dominant by both violins and thereafter by pairs of horns, oboes and violins, leading to a most unceremonious ‘knees-up’: a one-and-a-half bar dance, then a rhapsodic display for the whole band over a pulsating series of octave F’s in the bass line before the grand choral proclamation of Nicolai’s tune is given out in long notes by the sopranos and (sometimes) the first horn.

As with BWV 182, the crowd’s greeting is stirring and jubilant, especially at the movement’s climax, ‘highly and most splendidly sublime’, only here the accent is on majesty and opulence, as in the three-fold repetition of ’reich von Gaben’ (‘rich in gifts’). I got the feeling that there was enough audience familiarity with the Nicolai hymn tune (in English it is known as ‘How brightly shines the morning star’) to elicit that ‘invisible circle of human effort’, as Yo Yo Ma describes it, when performers and listeners alike are engaged in a collective or communal act. It was a feeling that returned to me twenty-four hours later during a rock concert in the Royal Albert Hall in which Sting exchanged snatches of familiar songs with his adoring audience in a kind of litany. It is in moments like this, when there is a particularly strong bond between musicians and their listeners, that one gets a whiff of how these cantatas might have been received in Leipzig at their creation – or at least of how Bach intended them to be received.

The festive mood of this cantata persists, buoyant with dance rhythms: dignified ceremonial ones in this opening fantasia, flame-flickering ones in the first [4/4] aria (for soprano with oboe da caccia), jubilant triple-time ones in the richly ornamented [3/8] second aria (for tenor and, appropriately, ‘the sound of strings’), and finally in a rousing four-part harmonisation of another of Nicolai’s verses, this time with an outrageous descant for the second horn. Ear-tingling and eye-pricking stuff, especially with shafts of spring sunlight piercing the clear glass windows of the church on cue for the appearance of the ‘morning star.’>> © John Eliot Gardiner 2006; From a journal written in the course of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage

Related Biblical Texts, Fine Chorale

Cantata 1 libretto has related biblical texts and a fine chorale, says Klaus Hofmann in his 2006 liner notes to the Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete sacred cantata recordings.10 <<The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated each year on 25th March and for this day – on which, as an exception during Lent, music was performed in Leipzig – Bach wrote his cantata Wie schön leuch tet der Morgenstern. The lesson and gospel passage for this day are closely related. The lesson – Isaiah 7, verses 10-14 – contains the traditional Prophecy related to the birth of Christ: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman’u-el’ (i.e. “God with us’). The gospel passage, after Luke 1, verses 26-38, tells how the Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will give birth to the Messiah. The hymn on which the cantata is based is one of the most beautiful in the rich stock of the Evangelical Church and is by the poet and composer Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608). In 1725 the Fest of the Annunciation fell on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. The gospel relates how on this day Jesus entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the people. For this – in terms of content – somewhat expanded feast of Mary the choice of hymn could not have been more appropriate. Not only does the hymn-like quality of both the text and the melody infuse the entire cantata, but also the content of the hymn (which was actually intended for the Feast of the Epiphany on 6th January) is ideally suited to the occasion. Admittedly, in the best Protestant tradition – and particularly relevant in view of the reference to Palm Sunday – a feast of Mary is thereby reinterpreted to some extent as a feast of Jesus. Nicolai’s words are filled with the expression of abundant love for Jesus, and Bach’s librettist re works the middle strophes almost in the spirit of an Advent-like anticipation of joy by focusing our attention on Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

Bach’s cantata Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern is musically a great success, and a work that hardly requires any explanation. The festive introductory chorus gains its special colour from its exquisite instrumentation: as well as a string orchestra there are two horns, two oboi da caccia (i.e. alto oboes) and two solo violins. The orchestral part is thematically independent. The movement acquires its unusual animation not least because the hymn tune is changed from 4/4-time to a more dance-like 12/8. In the choral part the text is not specifically interpreted in pictorial terms, although it does contain pronounced rhetorical emphases. The lively figures of the two solo violins are, however, to be understood as images: as illustrations of the sparkling morning star.

In each of the two arias and the final chorale, Bach brings out one of the characteristic tonal colours of the introductory chorus. In the soprano aria ‘Erfüllet, ihr himmlischen, göttlichen Flammen’ (‘O fill now, ye flames, both divine and celestial’) he uses the very unusual combination of a high-pitched singing voice and the lower pitch of the alto oboe (the coloraturas of which depict the flames to which the text refers). The instrumental part of the tenor aria ‘Unser Mund und Ton der Saiten’ (‘Let our voice and strings resounding’) – after the strophe ‘Zwingt die Saiten in Cythara’ (‘Play the strings in Cythera’) is given entirely to the strings, as pre scribed by the text; the two solo violins repeatedly emerge in a concertante manner from the orchestra. The whole movement is a hymn with a graceful minuet pulse. The vocal line emphasizes the salutation ‘großer König’ (‘mighty King’) with due respect and constantly provides illustrative, especially skilful coloraturas for the word ‘Gesang’ (‘song’).

In the splendid final chorale, however, the horns are to the fore. Whereas the other instruments move together with the vocal lines, the second horn acts independently and, with its signal-like motifs, lends an air of baroque festisplendour to the concluding strophe.

Bach’s musical friends in Leipzig could not have foretold that this chorale would prove final in more ways than one. After this cantata, the regular sequence of chorale cantatas broke off, before it was complete. The reason for this cannot be ascertained. If indeed it was the case that Bach’s librettist was the former deputy head master of the Thomas schule, Andreas Stübel, then Stübel’s sudden death in January 1725 would have deprived Bach of his supply of texts, and it is possible that no immediate successor could be found. Bach was evidently forced to compromise: at Easter 1725 he returned to a cantata he had written more than a decade and a half previously, Christ lag in Todes banden (Christ lay in the Bonds of Death, BWV 4), and in the weeks that followed he used traditional cantata texts that did not allude to hymns. Later he occasionally used hymns in their original form as cantata texts, apparently with the intention of completing his chorale cantata year in this way –although he did not fully achieve this goal.>> © Klaus Hofmann 2006

Annunciation Works, Chorales, Meanings, William Hoffman wrote (December 1, 2012):11 Bach's Annunciation performance calendar is a fascinating study of his motives, methods, and opportunities for music he presented on the Feast of the Annunciation. It shows eight different cantatas involving only two original works, BWV 182 (double duty for Palm Sunday, six performances) and Chorale Cantata BWV 1, with one lost cantata (Anh. 199), and a Picander text for Annunciation 1729 that Bach did not set. Meanwhile, there are five works of colleagues with strong Annunciation associations: a lost Johann Ludwig Bach cantata probably presented in 1726, a Johann Friedrich Fasch work, "Gottes und Marien Kind," probably presented in 1732, two Gottfried Heinrich Stözel cantatas performed in the second half of the 1730s, and a Georg Philipp Telemann piece, "Herr Christ der einge Gottessohn," TVWV 1:732, once attributed to Bach (BWV Anh. 156) and possibly performed by him with no established date.

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

The associated chorales from these works are:

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

1. "Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod" (Jesus suffering, pain and death), Paul Stockman's 1636 Passion hymn of "Jesus Suffering and Death" with the dual nature of Incarnation and Passion, that in Bach's time was sung on Palm Sunday preceding Holy Week and Good Friday and found in Bach presentations of the Passions of John, Luke, and Mark, BWV 245-47. It is a chorale chorus, BWV 182/7 (melody “Jesu Kreuz, Leiden und Pein”), performed on the dual dates of March 25 (Palm Sunday and Annunciation Feast), 1714 (Weimar), and 1724 on a dpuble bill with BWV Anh. 199 (Leipzig). Another related Passion chorale is "Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott" (Lord Jesus Christ, truly man and God) set as Chorale Cantata BWV 127 for Estomihi Sunday, February 11, 1725, the work that preceded Bach's Chorale Cantata BWV 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, for Annunciation on March 25.

2. "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How brightly shines the morning star), Otto Niccolai's 1599 omne tempore wedding hymn of the human Soul and the divine Jesus under the NLGB hymnbook heading "God's Word and the Christian Church," No. 313 (Zahn melody 8359). It is Bach's most versatile chorale in cantatas for Annunciation (BWV 1, Anh. 199), Advent (BWV 36, 61), Ascension (BWV 37), Trinity 20 (BWV 49), and Pentecost (BWV 172), and now is associated with Christmas and Epiphany. It is found with text stanzas in Cantatas: BWV 1/1 (S.1, chs.), BWV 1/6 (S.7, PC), BWV 36/4 (S.6, PC, ?1725), BWV 37/3 (SA duet, S. 5, 1724), BWV 49/6 (B trope S.7, 1726), BWV 61/6 (S.7 Amen, PC, 1714, 1723), BWV 172/6 (S.4, PC, 1714, 1724), BWV Anh 199/3 (music lost, S.2, PC 1725); as well as the melody in plain Chorale BWV 436 (c.1730) and Miscellaneous Organ-chorale, BWV 739.

3. "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" (Praise be to you, Jesus Christ), Martin Luther's 1524 Christmas hymn (NLGB 16, de tempore) that Bach used in Cantata BWV Anh. 199/6 (S. 7 PC), Christmas Cantatas BWV 64 and 91 and the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248/28

4. "Herr Christ, der einge Gottes Sohn" is a Catechism Justification chorale (NLGB No. 231 (Zahn melody 4297a). Bach's uses of Stanzas 1 and 5 are in Cantata BWV 22/5 (S.5, Estomihi), Chorale Cantata BWV 96 (S.1, 5; Trinity 18), BWV 132/6 (S.5, Advent 4), and BWV 164/6 (S.5, Trinity 13). It is loosely based on the Latin Christmas hymn Corde natus ex parentis (Born from his father's heart) by Aurelius Prudentius. Chorale melody usage is found in BCW, “Chorale Melodies used in Bach’s Vocal Works,”


1 Cantata 1, BCW Details and Discography,
2 Stiller, Günther. Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, Ed. Robin A. Leaver (Concordia Publishing: St. Louis, 1985: 246).
3 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682),"Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75.
4 Terry, Bach’s Chorals. Part I: 2 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts, (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 2. March 19, 2015.
5 Cantata 1 sources: Scoring, Soloists: Soprano, Tenor, Bass; 4-part Chorus; Orchestra: 2 horns, 2 oboes da caccia, 2 concertante violins, 2 ripieno violins, viola, continuo. Score Vocal & Piano [2.01 MB],; Score BGA [4.49 MB], References: BGA I (Cantatas 1-10, Maurice Hauptmann, 1851), NBA KB I/28.2 (Annunciation Cantatas, Matthias Wendt, 1995), Bach Compendium BC A 173, Zwang: K 114.
6 Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 668)
7 Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,
8 Chafe, J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology (Oxford Univ. Press: 2014: 13n10).
9 Gardiner, notes,[sdg118_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
10 Hofmann notes,[BIS-SACD1551].pdf ; BCW Recording details,
11 Original source and further details, see the BCW “Musical Context: Motets & Chorales for Feast of Annunciation of Mary,”

Aryeh Oron wrote (March 29, 2015):
Cantata BWV 1 - Revised & updated Discography
The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 1 "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" for the for the Feast of Annunciation of Mary on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of 2 horns, 2 oboes da caccia, 2 concertante violins, 2 ripieno violins, viola & continuo. See:
Complete Recordings (25):
Recordings of Individual Movements (13):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options to recordings directly from the discography pages, just below the recording details.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios and 1 video of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

I believe this is the most comprehensive and detailed discography of this chorale cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 1 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

You can also read on the BCW last week's discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):

Charles Francis wrote (March 29, 2015):
[To Aryeh Oron] Indeed, the Lehmann and Kuijken recordings highlighted by Aryeh were the two (contrasting) interpretations that caught my attention while listening earlier this week. Nice to hear Yehudi Menuhin discussing Fischer-Dieskau, moreover - for me slightly nostalgic as I once was lucky enough to hear him perform the Bach chaconne some three decades back.

A Hungarian performance of the chorale appealed to me because of its natural unaffected congregational manner:

Compare with Koopman’s breathless turn-of-the-century HIP-style:

or the odd contrived Harnoncourt interpretation:

or, indeed, the staccato affectation of Kuijken’s four professional soloists:

A concert performance from De Nederlandse Bachvereniging contains various advent settings, yet there are BWV 1 -related musical elements to be found in the second half, e.g., settings by Nicolai, Praetorius and Sweelinck of Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern. The whole concert is technically excellent and well worth watching:

William Hoffman wrote (September 15, 2015):
[BachCantatas] Bach Stiftung, Cantata 1

Enjoy: J.S. Bach - Cantata BWV 1 - Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern - 1 - Chorus (J. S. Bach Foundation)

Cantata BWV 1: Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern for Feast of Annunciation of Mary
Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements
Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion
Discussions of General Topics: Cantatas & Other Vocal Works | Performance Practice | Radio, Concerts, Festivals, Recordings


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Last update: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 23:41