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Cantata BWV 61
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of November 29, 2015 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (November 30, 2015):
Cantata 61, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland' Intro & Advent Chorales

Bach’s Advent chorus cantata BWV 61, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (Now come, saviour of the gentiles) represents several “firsts.” One of Bach’s most appealing and popular works, it was the first of his sacred cantatas in the traditional German style of Erdmann Neumeister and his first setting of a Neumeister text. It began Bach’s first cycle in Leipzig on the First Sunday in Advent. It opens the church year. It’s simple, symmetrical form represents the most typical format for sacred cantatas: opening chorus, alternating pairs of recitatives and da-capo arias, and closing plain chorale.

With its mastery of French and Italian styles, Cantata 61 sets the standard for Bach’s Leipzig church cantata cycles. All its movements flow together and are among Bach’s most concise and satisfying. It utilizes two popular chorales, Martin Luther’s Latin-based Advent setting and Philipp Nicolai’s versatile “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (How beautifully shines the morning star). It’s centerpiece is the exquisite miniature arioso for bass voice representing the vox Christi, “Siehe, ich stehe vor der Tür und klopfe an” (See, I stand before the door and knock, Revelation 3:20).1

With its somber Reformation opening hymn, this perfect musical sermon proceeds to joy and affirmation while involving a balance of paradoxical elements and teachings (see ‘Note on Text’ below). It balances introspection and celebration. It represents the advents or comings of Jesus Christ in a four-fold scheme: coming in the flesh (incarnation) as a human, in the spirit of the church as a divinity, to the individual believer through faith, and the corporate believer at the end of time (see “Advent Chorales and Jesus’ Coming’ below). It is an overture to, a preparation for the first half of the church year, the de tempore or timed observance of the life of Jesus Christ through service music (see ‘Advent Background’ below). It represents the Advent Season canticle element of song, joy, proclamation, expectation, and deliverance, while launching the seasons of the year.

Cantata 61 was premiered on December 2, 1714, at the Weimar Schloßkapelle before the sermon of the General Superintendent Johann Georg Layritz (1647-17160). It was first performed in Leipzig on November 28, 1723, at the Thomas Church before the sermon of Subdeacon Justus Gotthard Rabner (1688-1731) in place of the indisposed pastors, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2

Readings and Teachings

The Lutheran Church Year Readings in Bach’s time for the First Sunday in Advent are: Epistle: Romans 13:11-14 (Our salvation is nearer than we believe) and Gospel, Matthew 21:1-9 (Christ’s entry into Jerusalem). The German text of Luther’s translation published in 1545 and the English Authorised (King James) Version 1611 are found at BCW,

The importance of these lessons is explained in Andrew White’s Cresset article, “Splendor and Solemnity: Bach at Advent” (2013, “These texts illustrate the theological complexity of the incarnation and the ways in which Christ ‘comes’ to his people. The epistle focuses on watchfulness and righteous­living.” Meanwhile, “in keeping with the tone of the epistle passage, Matthew 21 also foreshadows the second coming of Christ. Though events in the life of Christ follow a chronological pattern throughout the temporale, on the first Sunday of the church year the various theological aspects of Christ’s ‘Advent’—his incarnation, his ongoing presence in the church, and his second coming—are deliberately conflated.”

The Service Order in Leipzig is found in Bach's hand at the beginning of the manuscript score of Cantata BWV 61, presumably for Bach's emphasis on the start of the new church year, says Alfred Dürr in Cantatas of JSB.3 For Advent, the opening motet (New Bach Reader, No. 113: No. 2), which replaced Introit Psalm chants, often in Latin, was "Peur natus in Betlehem" or German motet settings such as Machet die Tore weit" (Psalm 24:7-10). The chorale "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" was Luther's adaptation (contrafaction) of the Latin hymn "Veni redemptor genitum."

Note on Text

An overview of the Neumeister text is provided in Francis Browne’s BCW Note on the text ( <<This, one of the best known of all Bach's cantatas, was composed at the end of 1714 and first performed in the Weimar court chapel on Advent Sunday, 2 December 1714. The libretto is by Erdmann Neumeister, pastor in Hamburg and the main architect of the reform cantata incorporating simple recitative and da capo arias characteristic of Italian opera. The text was published three years later in Neumeister's Fünffache Kirchen-Andachten (Leipzig, 1717). The cantata is therefore one of Bach's earliest expositions in the new cantata form, and the first one he is known to have composed to a libretto by Neumeister.

The introductory movement uses the first verse of the ancient church hymn Veni, redemptor gentium in the German version by Martin Luther (1524). For many years this hymn was used in the Lutheran church at the beginning of Advent. The recitative of the fourth movement is a quotation from Revelation 3: 20. The concluding chorale uses the Abgesang of the last verse of “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” [How beautifully shines the morning star] by Philipp Nicolai (1599).

In the freely composed movements Neumeister develops a train of thought in the manner of a sermon: the Saviour’s coming brings us new blessings each day (movement 2); this is connected to the prayer that Jesus may come to the church as to his own community (movement 3). After the biblical quotation of the fourth movement Jesus is requested to enter also into the hearts of individual Christians and not to treat them with the scorn deserved by their sinfulness. In both arias therefore communal and individual prayers for the Saviour’s coming are the theme of the poetry. (Information based on Oxford Composer Companions and Dürr Die Kantaten). Texts and literal translations of the chorales may be found at: “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” [] | “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” [],>> information on the chorale text (CT) and chorale melody (CM) at

Cantata 61 Movements, Scoring, Incipits, Key, Meter

1. Chorus French Overture prelude and fugue [SATB; Violino I/II all' unisono, Viola I/II, Fagotto, Continuo]: A. introduction in 2/2, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland [SATB], / Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt” (plain chorale) (Now come, saviour of the gentiles, / recognised as the child of the Virgin); B. canon-fugue in ¾, “Des sich wundert alle Welt, / Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt” (at whom all the world is amazed / that God decreed such a birth for him); a minor.
2. Recitative secco and arioso [Tenor; Continuo]: A. “Der Heiland ist gekommen” (The saviour has come); B. Du kömmst und läßt dein Licht / Mit vollem Segen scheinen” (You come and let your light / shine with full blessing); C Major, 4/4.
3. Aria da capo [Tenor; Violino I/II, Viola I/II all' unisono, Continuo]: A. “Komm, Jesu, komm zu deiner Kirche” (Come, Jesus, come to your church); B. “Befördre deines Namens Ehre” (Increase the honour of your name); G Major, 3/8 passapied-menuett style.
4. A[Bass; Violino I/II, Viola I/II, Continuo]: “Siehe, ich stehe vor der Tür und klopfe an” (See, I stand before the door and knock, Revelation 3:20); e minor to G Major; 4/4.
5. Aria da capo [Soprano; Violoncelli, Continuo]: A. ¾ “Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze” (Open, my whole heart); 2/2 B. “Bin ich gleich nur Staub und Erde” (Though I am only like dust and earth); G Major.
6. Chorale Plain [SATB; Viola I coll'Alto, Viola II col Tenore, Fagotto col Basso, Violino I/II all' unisono, Continuo]: Amen, amen! / Komm, du schöne Freudenkrone, bleib nicht lange!” (Come, you beautiful crown of joy, do not delay for a long time!); G Major, 4/4.

Advent Chorales and Jesus’ Coming

In Cantata 61, Bach closes with a plan setting of the general chorale, “Wie schön leuchet der Morgenstern,” seemingly “to conflate” the two comings of Christ in the biblical lessons in Bach’s time, as explained in White’s article (Ibid.). << Bach concludes this cantata with three lines from the last verse of Wie schön leuchet der Morgenstern [How beautifully shines the morning star] by Philipp Nicolai (1599): “Amen! Amen! / Come, you fair crown of joy, do not long delay, / I await you with longing.” This text seems to conflate the first and second coming of Christ, which was common in the scripture readings for this season of the liturgical year. Eric Chafe traces the various advents of Christ in the developmental structure of this cantata: ‘Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland’... interprets the coming of Jesus in a fourfold scheme...: first as His coming in the flesh to Israel (the incarnation, represented in the opening chorus...), then as His coming in the spirit to the church (the tenor aria...), then as His coming to the individual believer through faith (soprano aria...), and, finally, as His coming to the believer at the end of time (final ­chorale...).

The musical setting of these lines, like the text itself, is brief but intense. In the last line, “I await you with longing,” the sopranos sing in long, descending notes, perhaps symbolizing Christ’s return to earth from heaven above. But after the voices trail off, the “obbligato violins soar up to top g3 [three octaves in all] at the close in Advent jubilation” (Dürr Ibid.: 77). The trajectory of the cantata is intriguing: from the royal welcome of Christ by the wondering world, to the response to Christ’s entreaty to enter in, to the expression of longing for Christ’s imminent return.>>

The chorales available to Bach for Advent were few but ran the gamut from those based on Latin responses, to hymns that also were appropriate for Christmas, to popular folk songs and works of Michael Weisse and his Reformation Bohemian Bretheran, as well as the general chorale, “Wie schön leuchet der Morgenstern” (How beautifully shines the morning star). [Updated source: Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year, Motets & Chorales for Sundays in Advent. Topics include: liturgy and theology of the Advent Season, Advent Season and related motets & chorales, instrumental settings as organ chorale preludes, Bach’s performance schedule of Advent cantatas; Michael Weisse and Paul Gerhardt Advent hymns, the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) chorales.]

Cantata 61 in the Advent 1 Context

A perspective on Cantata 61 as part of Bach’s compositions for the First Sunday in Advent is provided by Julian Mincham in the BCML Cantata 61 Discussions Part 4 (January 8, 2009), <<An 'across the boards' view of cantatas for the same day can reveal much that a study of the individual works in isolation cannot. Here’s an attempt at providing a little context--by no means exhaustively:

The opening chorus of BWV 61 is of particular interest since there we can find seeds planted that will only come fully to fruition a decade later in the second great Leipzig cycle. The form is that of the French Overture and interesting comparisons may be made with the fantasia with which the second cycle commences (BWV 20, chapter 2). The first and last sections of both works are stately and powerful, that in the middle, energetically contrapuntal.

In section one of 61, the first chorale phrase is sung four times, without support from the other three voices, by the sopranos, then altos, tenors and basses. The section finishes with the second phrase in four-part vocal harmony. This dispenses with the first two lines of text----Come, Saviour of man, born of the Virgin. The writing is declamatory, befitting of the entreaty.

The faster, middle section sets the third line and the busy imitative counterpoint presumably represents the hordes on earth. The original dotted rhythms return to close the movement with a triumphant full choral version of the last phrase, marveling at the Virgin Birth.

Thus Bach divides his four lines of text so as to be accommodated by the three sections of the French Overture.

Two further points of interest in later movements are the use of pizzicato strings in the bass recitative (illustrating the effect of knocking on the door) and the fact that Bach does not conclude with a simple four-part harmonization of the chorale.

Nevertheless, BWV 61 can be viewed as an early template, not only for BWV 62 but also for the general concept of the chorale fantasia as exemplified in the second cycle. The study of the one throws much light upon the other.

When comparing BWV 61 and BWV 62 it is clear that, in almost every respect the former is a work of lesser stature. It is shorter than BWV 62 and more lightly orchestrated; strings and bassoon supporting the continuo are all that are required although there are two viola parts. The work demonstrates Bach's interest in and mastery of both French and Italian styles and techniques. The da capo aria and recitative were borrowed from Italian opera and were, in the early years of the century, beginning to be adopted into some of the less conservative centres of German church music. The French Overture was finding a place in both secular and religious music.

Both cantatas have a similar macro-structure, opening and closing choral movements framing a pair of arias and recitatives. Interestingly, the opening choruses of both BWV 61 and BWV 62 are set in minor modes, in neither case conveying a sense of the uninhibited ecstasy which one might think appropriate for the celebration of the birth of the Saviour.>>

Cantata 61 Introduction

FN Mincham, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: A listener and student guide, Revised 2014; Home Page,

An introduction to Cantata 61 is found in Julian Mincham’s BCW Commentary of the Bach Cantatas, << For his last cantata before the Christmas celebrations Bach turned yet again to a work from his Weimar years, composed in 1614 (Dürr p 76). This was the only day of the pre-Christmas period in which a cantata was permitted at Leipzig, thus giving Bach a breathing space in which to make the final preparations for that very important festival.

It should not be thought that the Leipzig congregations were being short-changed by the reuse of Bach′s earlier works. For one thing, it is unlikely that many people were even aware of it. For another, many of the movements were scrupulously reworked to adapt to the new occasions and environments. Finally, Bach himself could not have thought so because even the cantata for Christmas Day itself, C 63, was a reworking of a Weimar cantata. Bach′s attitude always seemed to be that music should be completely fit for purpose and if he deemed it to be so, then it didn′t much matter when, or from where, it originated.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that the assemblage of cantatas from C 70 onwards were all works that commenced with large commanding choruses deto attract immediate attention, something that had not been a feature of the previous group.>>

Gardiner: Advent Cantatas Appeal

Bach’s three cantatas for the First Sunday in Advent -- BWV 61 and 62, “Nun komm der Heiden Highland,” and BVW 36, “Schwingt freudig euch empor” (Soar in your joy up to the lofty stars) – have a “sense of excitement” for Advent, says John Eliot Gardiner in his 2006 liner notes to his 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage on Soli Deo Gloria recordings.4 Gardiner also poses a theoretical question (bold-faced), of Bach’s response to the popular hymn. “Besides the festive allure they have in common, all three of these contrasted works display a sense of excitement at the onset of the Advent season. This can be traced back both to qualities inherent in the chorale tune itself, and to the central place Bach gives to Luther’s words. By treating it with so much flair and fantasy was he consciously responding to local tradition and people’s attachment to a favourite hymn?”

<<The successive stages of Advent and the differing perspectives these give on Jesus’ incarnation are perhaps most clearly marked in Bach’s early version of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61. Following the slow-quick-slow pattern of the typical French overture, Bach’s grand invocation of the opening chorus changes to a skittish stretto fugue (marked ‘gai’), Louis XIV’s tittering courtiers transformed into ‘all the world’ marvelling at the imminent birth of the Saviour, before a slow reaffirmation of God’s design in this miracle. The tenor concertist now celebrates the colossal benefits to humankind of Jesus taking on human flesh, first in recitative and in arioso, through imitative intertwining with the continuo (No.2), and then in a lyrical 9/8 aria with a three-part meshing of voice, continuo and upper strings, entreating Jesus to enter His church and to instigate a ‘blessed New Year’.

At the midway point of this cantata there is a switch from the external properties of Advent (Christ’s arrival on earth) to the internal (His entering into the soul of the individual believer via the sacrament). Christ stands at the door of the soul and knocks (No.4). Measured pizzicato chords create a mysterious and hugely evocative backdrop to Christ’s request to be admitted to the believer’s dwelling and to share his evening meal. Bach’s evocation of the scene at Emmaus in BWV 6, and of Christ’s post- Resurrection appearance to the disciples in BWV 67, even the entry of the Commendatore in Mozart’s Don Giovanni – all these flash through one’s mind, but most of all the way so many of Bach’s fertile uses of instrumental motifs in his later church music can trace their origins back to this little ten-bar accompagnato for bass as the Vox Domini. The pattern of increasing intimacy with God, the internalisation of the Word via the sacrament (Kanzel – Altar – Abendmahl), is mirrored by Bach in a pattern of decreasing instru - mentation, so that the soprano’s touching response to Jesus’ words in No.5 is confined to just basso continuo. By this economy of means, in his interlacing of the simplest three-note ascent by continuo and then voice (‘Öffne dich’) beginning on the second beat of a 3/4 bar and expanding into a 3/2 hemiola for ‘Jesus kommt und ziehet ein’, and not least in the beatific ecstasy of ‘O wie selig’ in the slower B section, Bach reveals his debt to that other great miniaturist, his older cousin Johann Christoph, the one Bach ancestor he singled out as a ‘profound’ composer. The cantata ends rather abruptly, not with a four-part chorale harmonisation but with the final stanza of Philipp Nicolai’s hymn ‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’. In its fourteen bars Bach requires the violins to climb three octaves to convey the extent of the soul’s longing (‘Verlangen’) for the joys of a future life and the prospect of Jesus returning at the end of time. The reference here to the ‘beautiful crown of peace’ can perhaps be linked in Bach’s iconography with the way his own initials are intertwined with their mirror image and surmounted by a crown in the famous monogram that appears on the beautiful glass goblet that was presented to him in the mid-1730s.>>

Advent Background

The four Sundays in the de tempore fixed season of Advent mark the beginning of the church year prior to the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, December 25. The central Advent theme is the coming of the Old-Testament- prophesied Messiah, primarily in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Advent is observed as a time of general introspection rather than a season, as an overture to, a preparation for the first half of the church year, the de tempore or timed observance of the life of Jesus Christ through service music.

This half-church year in Bach’s Leipzig time constituted some 29 services over six months, from the panoply of chorales beginning with the initial time of Advent, Christmas and New Years to a liminal, in-between Epiphany Time with its timeless omnes tempore thematic "Jesus Hymns" and pre-Lenten chorales, to the Passiontide abundance of both Passion and non-Passion chorales of sacrifice and suffering, culminating in the "Moveable Feast" of Easter and Pentecost with its emphasis on Christ's final 50 days in triumph through the word and sacrament using the themes of peace and the Good Shepherd.

Advent Season: Various Perspectives

Historically, Advent Season is a four-part observance marking both the "coming" of the Savior as well as the "Incarnation of the Son of God." Various ancient writers describe the four Sundays as Christ's coming from Heaven, coming in the spirit, coming to each one of His own, and "coming in Glory to Judgment," according to Paul Zeller Strodach's The Church Year.5 Other writers speak of these Sundays as incarnation, redemption, instruction, and glorification or, simply, as Sundays TO men, FOR men, IN men, and AGAINST men.

The Liturgy and its Propers, as the Reformers established them in a common service book, with the scriptural readings of the Gospels and Epistles, reveal already in the Advent Season the canticle element of song, joy, proclamation, expectation, and deliverance. The opening, entering Introit motets address the old Testament celebratory psalms and the prophecies of Isaiah and conclude with the triune "Gloria Patri" (Lesser Doxology). The Collects, drawn from throughout the Christian Church's history, are a collective petition of the gathering of the faithful, containing the central meaning and teaching of the scriptural readings or lessons, and concluding with the doxology closing, "as it was in the beginning. . . ." The sung Gradual and Hallelujah between the lessons stress the central psalmic theme of blessing, "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini" (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," Matthew 21:9). Some of the Advent themes include "open wide the portals," Psalm 45.7; the coming of Immanuel ("God with us" - the central theme of the Old Testament); and the preparation of the way in Isaiah Chapter 40.

Advent in Leipzig

Bach’s cantatas within the context of Lutheran worship, especially at the beginning of the church year, are described in Andrew White’s article (Ibid.). <<Bach’s cantatas are then best appreciated in the context of Lutheran worship, since they are direct responses to Sundays and feast days in the liturgical year. As Eric Chafe has noted, for ­eighteenth-century Lutherans the liturgical year “…itself was a form of theological expression on the largest scale. 6 The astronomical and meteorological conditions of Europe correlated with the events of Jesus’ life and the beginnings of the church: Beginning at the darkest time of the year, the liturgical year aligns the coming of God’s light into the world (the incarnation) with the turning of the sun at the winter solstice (Christmas), the ­coming of that light to the Gentiles with the New Year (Epiphany), and the Passion and resurrection of Christ with the spring equinox and the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the revelation of the Trinity with the summer solstice.” >>

<< The Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent were part of the penitential period of Advent in . The absence of “high” music on these Sundays accentuated the emphasis on reflection, self-denial, and general solemnity in the churches (Dürr: Ibid.: 25). This liturgical tradition, then, put a particularly heavy emphasis on the First Sunday in Advent (Gardiner: Ibid.). Not only was this Sunday the beginning of the liturgical year, it also marked the beginning of the Christmas season, a month-long period of expectation and waiting for the birth of Christ. As Tadashi Isoyama notes, it is this “double significance [that] caused Bach to devote particular care to creating a deep emotional content in his cantatas for this Sunday.”7 The First Sunday in Advent was the last opportunity for churchgoers in Leipzig to hear concerted music before Christmas; the emotionally profound music for this Sunday was highly valued because it could help to dispel the midwinter gloom in the weeks ahead (Gardiner: Ibid.).

Bach’s cantatas for the First Sunday in Advent (like his other cantatas) are essentially sermons in music; they are theologically and emotionally-rich articulations of the themes of the Advent season. In these works, Bach achieves a remarkable synthesis between the old and new forms at his disposal (textual and musical) and a harmonious balance of the theological complexities of Christ’s “Advent”—his incarnation, his ongoing presence in the church, and his second coming. Bach’s music vividly underscores the paradoxes of Advent and the incarnation: joy, yet solemnity and expectation; light in the midst of darkness; divine power manifested in human weakness (as the “Ruler of Heaven” comes to earth as a baby); royal magnificence and intimacy (seen in the image of Christ knocking on the door); and peace and clamor (the response of wonder at the mystery of the incarnation).>>

Leipzig Advent Festive Treatment

The First Sunday in Advent was treated as a festival in Leipzig, one of the characteristics being the use of trumpets and drums. This is found in the opening tutti movement in Cantor Johann Schelle (1648-1701) German biblical cantata, "Machet die Tore weit" (Open wide, the portals), (scroll down to “Schelle - Machet die Tore weit by GustavAdolphusRex)

In Leipzig, Cantor and city Music Director Johann Sebastian Bach provided service music only on the First Sunday of Advent, which was "often emphasized as a special festival day over against the rest of” Advent, “which was usually observed as a time of penitence," says Günther Stiller in JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.8 Thus the First Sunday in Advent brought joy and anticipation of the Birth of Jesus, as many of the chorales are listed as appropriate for both Advent and Christmas Sunday and Festival main services.

The ubiquitous Lutheran Advent motet "Machet die Tore Weit” (Lift up your heads, ye gates) Psalm 24:7-10), had quite an early history, including settings Wolfgang Carl Briegel (1666); Samuel Scheidt (1635), and Andreas Hammerschmidt (1644). Of course we have festive cantata settings for Advent 1 by Graupner at Darmstadt (1727, Lichtenberg text) and Telemann TVWV 1:1074 at Hamburg (?1722; Bach performance in 1734) with text by J. F. Helbig (1680-1722) at Eisenach (

While Bach did not set “Machet die Tore weit,” polyphonic motet versions -- perhaps Briegel, Scheidt, or Hammerschmidt -- may have been the opening Introit motet in Bach's festive Leipzig Advent 1 service. Other settings include Schütz, Flor, H. Grimm, and M. Tobias, as well as cantatas of C. H. Graun. Introit Psalm for the First Sunday in Advent is Psalm 102, Domine, exaudi (Hear my prayer, O Lord, KJV), says Martin Petzoldt (Ibid.: 17). Psalm 102 complete text (KJV) is found at Bach may have presented the Orlando di Lasso version SATB, 1585.

In Leipzig at the same time, the First Sunday in Advent, “was also linked to Lent as the start of a period [closed, tempus clausum] of repentance and preparation, in this case for Christmas,” says Anne Leahy in JSB’s “Leipzig Chorale Preludes.”9 Her study emphasizes the significance and meaning of Bach’s treatment of the chorale melody in these extended organ preludes and their associated texts, examining the treatment of individual stanzas with various theological and biblical themes, citing specific biblical passages. Recent writers such as Leahy, Chafe, and Robin A. Leaver in Luther’s Liturgical Music10 have found significant Christological themes, particular the Christus Paradox of Jesus Christ as “true God and Man” in the eschatological (Last Things) involving the incarnation and Passion of Christ, particularly in Luther’s Advent chorale, “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (Now comes the saviour of the nations). “The saving of mankind begins with the birth of Christ, and therefore his suffering and Passion begin with his birth,” says Leahy (Ibid: 144f), particularly with the use of the “Passion Chorale,” “O sacred head now wounded,” at the beginning and end of the six-part Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (1734-35).

Popular Luther Advent Hymn

Bach’s favorite Advent cantata setting is the Advent chorale, NLGB No. 2, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Now come, savior of the gentiles/nations), SATB setting), EKG: 1. This is Martin Luther’s 1524 German vernacular translation of seven stanzas and a closing doxology, published in the Erfurt Enchirida and in Johann Walther’s Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn at Wittenberg. It is based on Veni redemptor gentium (Come, Saviour of the people, the second verse of the Advent Latin hymn text, “Intende qui regis Israel,” by Bishop Ambrose of Milan (340-397). German paraphrases of the hymn date from the 12th century.

The Chorale Melody (CM) is “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,” composer anonymous (1524, Zahn melody 1174). It is based on the anonymous Dorian (“minor”) modal melody of the hymn, Veni redemptor gentium. The earliest source is a Swiss-Benedictine manuscript dating from 1120. The same melody source served as a basis for three important Reformation chorale melodies: “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”, “Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich” (Graciously grant us peace). Luther’s Chorale Text is based upon the antiphon Da pacem Domine) and Luther’s CT, “Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort” (Preserve us, Lord, with your word). The melody was mostly transmitted in G or in A dorian until Bach’s time. For further information on the melody and text, see BCW,

Bach’s uses of the hymn (Chorale Text Stanza and Chorale Melody) are: Cantata 61/1, French Overture chorale chorus (S.1) in a minor; Cantata 62/1, chorale chorus (S.1) in b minor; /6, plain chorale (S.8) in b minor Aeolian

Cantata 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor: /2 soprano-alto chorale aria (S.1), melody in basso continuo (bc) in f-sharp minor; Cantata 36/6, tenor aria (S.6 with CM) in b minor; /8, plain chorale (S.8) in b minor; SBCB 1 -- Chorale Melody (CM) & b.c., “Sebastian Bach’s Choral-Buch” (c.1740)

Untexted Bach settings of the Chorale Melody are: Organ chorale preludes BWV 599 (Orgelb. in A Major); BWV 659-61(a) (Great 18); Emans BWV 660b?; and Emans 140(MC), 139(MC)? is the Latin source of Luther’s vernacular translation of the melody, “Erhalt uns Herr, bei deinem Wort.”

‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’

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

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

Advent Hymns

The NLGB Hymn Schedule for the First Sunday in Advent was: “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (Hauptlied [Hymn of the Day]), NLGB 2; Veni redemptor gentium (Latin version), NLGB 3; “Von Adam her so lange Zeit,” NLGB 4; “Gottes Sohn ist kommen,” NLGB 5; “Menschenkind merk eben,” NLGB 6; Sequence “Als de gütige Gott” (Mittit ad virginem), NLGB 7a,b.

Advent Chorales set by Bach (4 Orgelbüchlein (OB) chorales, 5 others)
1. OB BWV 599 — “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”; BWV 659-61(Great 18); Emans BWV 660b?; Emans 140(BWV deest, Misc. Chorale), 139 (MC, unpublished)?; Chorale Cantata BWV 62, Sebastiuan Bach Choal-Buch SBCB1 (Zahn 1174)
2. OB BWV 600 — “Gott, durch deine Güte” = “Gottes Sohn ist kommen”; BWV 318(Plain Chorale); see Christmas
3. OB BWV 601 — “Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn” – “Herr Gott, nun sei gepreiset”; BWV 22/5(CC), CC BWV 96(Tr.18), BWV 698(Kirnberger Chorale), Emans 86?(MC).
4. OB BWV 602 — Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott; BWV 704(Kirnberger Chorale)
-- “Als der gütig Gott”; BWV 264(Plain Chorale)
-- “Auf, auf! Die rechte Zeit ist hier”; BWV 440 (Schmelli Gesangbuch, see Morning Song)
-- “Menschenkind merk eben” (Z3294),SBCB5, see OB 2
-- “Von Adam(s) her so lange Zeit (Z350, NLGB 4) = “Erhalt uns Herr, bei deinem wort”; SBCB4, see OB 122
-- “Von Gott, will ich nicht lassen = Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen”; BWV 658(a)(Great18)

Another Advent-Christmas hymn is "Der Tag, der ist so freundlich," set by Bach as BWV 294 as an untexted four-part chorale in Bach's Breitkopf published collection, 1784-87 based on the Latin hymn "Die est laetitiae" (Klug 1535).


1 Cantata 61 BCW Details and revised and updated Discography,
2 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: 21).
3 Dürr, Cantatas of J. S. Bach, revised and translated by Richard D. P. Jones (Oxford University Press, New York, 2005: 76).
4 Gardiner liner notes,[sdg162_gb].pdf; BCW Recording details,
5 Strodach, The Church Year: Studies in the Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels (United Lutheran Publication House, Philadelphia PA, 1924: 23f).
6 Chafe, Analyzing Bach Cantatas (New York: Oxford UP, 2000: 11).
7 Isoyama notes, Masaaki Suzuki BIS complete cantata recordings,[BIS-CD881].pdf; BCW Recording details,
8 Stiller, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig (St. Louis MO: Concordia, 1984, p. 58).
9 Leahy, JSB’s “Leipzig Chorale Preludes” (ed. Robin A Leaver; Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2011: 138).
10 Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music (Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans Publishing, 2007: 297 and Ch. 17, “Luther’s Theology of Music in Later Lutheranism”).


To come this week: Cantata 61 revised and updated Discography, Cantata 61 BCML Discussion Quiz (Ed Myskowski), bass arioso BCW commentaries, chorale “Wie schön leuchtet” abgesang usage only (Peter Smaill), Bach’s Advent performance schedule and manuscript provenance.

William Hoffman wrote (November 30, 2015):
Cantata 61, Bass Vox Christi Arioso

The high point of Bach’s Advent chorus Cantata 61, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (Now come, saviour of the gentiles), is the bass arioso vox Christi with pizzicato strings, No. 4, "Siehe, siehe, ich stehe vor der Tur und klopfe an" (See, I stand before the door and knock). Lasting 10 bars and about a minute, it is a miniature scena and one of Bach’s most engaging, compelling songs. The meaning, symbolism, and Bach’s use of pizzicato strings are explored in previous BCML discussions, particularly a dialogue between major contributors Peter Smaill and Thomas Braatz.

Here is the German biblical text and Francis Browne’s English translation (Revelation 3:20): “Siehe, ich stehe vor der Tür und klopfe an. So jemand meine Stimme hören wird und die Tür auftun, zu dem werde ich eingehen und das Abendmahl mit ihm halten und er mit mir” (See, I stand before the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open the door I shall go in and have supper with him and he with me).

“Both Robertson and Whittaker, indeed many contributors too, are particularly struck by the movement whose form is least analysed in the cantatas-the recitative; in this case BWV61/4, "Siehe, siehe, ich stehe vor der Tur und klopfe an," says Peter Smaill (March 27, 2005) description of the arioso, BCML Cantata 61 Discussions Part 2 (March 28, 2005),

<<The image of Christ knocking on the door, symbolising His call to the individual soul, is from Revelations 3/20, and as so often when Bach depicts a mystical theme the result is highly affecting. But is there, to the musicologist, any particular quality in Bach's general use of pizzicato which distinguishes his use of the technique? My sources are silent on the point even though these two examples alone are of high musical quality.

In this instance the pizzicato depicts the striking act; whereas the pizzicato in BWV 95/ 5, uses pizzicato in the context of death, "Only call soon (thou most beloved of holy bells)" the musical language is in both cases indicative of a striking action. The graphical analogy for BWV 61/4 must be Holman Hunt's famous Pre-Raphaelite painting, "The Light of the World" (1851), in Keble College, Oxford; which explicitly illustrates exactly the same passage in Revelation>> [see painting and description at Wikipedia, -- copy and paste into server Google search).

<<Thomas Braatz wrote (March 28, 2005): Peter Smaill wrote:
>>But is there, to the musicologist, any particular quality in Bach's general use of pizzicato which distinguishes his use of the technique? Bach used pizzicato for the upper strings in the following instances: BWV 8/1 (Todesglocken), BWV 30a/5 (Pleasure with syncopated rhythm), BWV 30/5 (Come the savior calls to sinners - parody), BWV 33/3 (fearful steps of a sinner), BWV 61/4 (knocking on door: the present cantata), BWV 73/4 (funeral bells), BWV 92/8 (sins dripping into the 'cup of the cross' of human suffering), BWV 95/4 (let the funeral bells ring out soon for me - mentioned by Peter), BWV 127/3 (let the funeral bells call me to my death), BWV 161/4 (ring out the last hour signaling my death,) BWV 182/1 (instrumental (knockion the door?) before we welcome the King of Heaven?), BWV 198/4 (funeral bells), BWV 209/1 (instrumental introduction), BWV 212/14 (drops of an alcoholic drink?), BWV 1044/1-3 (instrumental), BWV 1056/1-3 (instrumental), BWV 1060/2 (instrumental)

Except in such cases where the music is entirely instrumental (no reference to any text whatsoever), we get the following results: Todesglocken 5 instances; Clock or bell ringing out the final hour of life 1 instance; Dripping of blood or alcohol 2 instances; Christ knocking on the door possibly 2 instances; Fearful steps of a sinner 1 instance; Pleasure with a skipping, syncopating rhythm 1 instance.

It is clear that Bach's most common application of pizzicato is to have it represent death as related to funeral bells. Some of the most beautiful and sublime arias that Bach ever wrote are included in the group listed above. A steady (unsyncopated) regularly repeated musical figure played pizzicato sometimes begins to sound like the ticking of the clock or a human heart which could be construed as the time in one's life ticking away with approaching death being imminent. Perhaps these images (funeral bells, clock ticking, and heart beating) are combined as one symbol in Bach's musical language?>>

Peter Smaill replies (March 28, 2005): << Thomas is onto an interesting theme, the potential conflation of these images in Bach. Christ's knocking at the door can be seen as both appeal to the soul (the reciprocal response to this image can be found in the famous aria [Cantata 80/4], "Komm in mein herzens Haus"; and as the appeal of conquering death by "dying in Christ". In this latter sense the image also resonates with the imagery of the Passover; but in the Christian scheme it is Jesus' blood which effaces death, rather than the ritual blood of an actual lamb at the door as in the Judaic tradition.

“The pizzicato themes also lead us to another theme in Bach, that of Time. We have already found it in BWV 106, "Gottes Zeit ist der allerbeste Zeit", and it is present emphatically in BWV 20, "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort". Eric Chafe examines the theme in depth in his essay "Anfang und Ende", which focuses on BWV 41, "Jesu, nun sei gepreiset", one of four Cantatas in which Jesus is referred to as the "A" and "O"; also a quotation from Revelations.

So the figure of Jesus is linked in sentiment to ideas of beginning and end (i.e., time). Remembering the Gardiner discussions of the pizzicato effects in "Ach, schlage doch bald" in BWV 95, the clock idea in relation to Bach's use of pizzicato is an appealing explanation for a musical effect which conveys the passing of time and hence the transience of life. Thus it can be seen that all the religious images alluded to by the use of pizzicato are interrelated.>>

Here are excerpts from Francis Browne’s commentary in the same BCML Discussion: (March 31, 2005): << BWV 61: Mvt. 4. There is much to give delight in all the movements of Nun komm. der Heiden Heiland BWV 61, but as I have got to know the work better it is one movement, the ten bars of the bass recitative that most stay in the mind. Though I have enjoyed a number of different recordings there is also one performance of this recitative that seems outstanding to me.

Some of the commentators share my enthusiasm for this briefest of movements. Writing in 1905 Schweitzer recommended "for the sake of this recitative the cantata should be one of the first to be performed with the object of making Bach popular". Dürr regards it as the real high point of the work and comments on the masterly way in which highly expressive declamation based on the text is transformed in only ten bars into a construction of convincing musical logic.

W.G. Whittaker is typically more expansive: The gem of the cantata, indeed one of the most priceless treasures in them all, is the ten-bar bass recitative. Violins (divisi), violas, and continuo maintain a steady progression of pizzicato chords, the gentle knocking of the Christ beginning with a strong yet soft dissonance, and the voice, in a miracle of declamatory appositeness, speaks gently. One can never think of the words with-out their association with the music. The picturesque treatment of ‘klopfe' is infinitely daring, a succession of staccato notes, yet it is a reverent and perfect limning of the Saviour. No Italian masterpiece of painting brings Jesus so clearly before our eyes as these few bars of simple music.

. . . the outstanding accomplishment of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau with Richter [4]. The slowest timing of all (77 seconds) allows Fischer-Dieskau to use his incomparable ability to illuminate each word of the text, to suggest with a passing intonation fine nuances of meaning not expressed so well or missed by others: the tender but urgent appeal of 'Siehe, siehe', the solemnity of the soul's acceptance of salvation implied in 'So jemand meine Stimme hören', the crescendo built up by the ascendng tricolon of the last three phrases -zu dem werde ich eingehen- und das Abendmahl mit ihm halten - und er mit mir- culminating in the infinite tenderness of divine love conveyed by the last phrase.>> (The entire recording is found at

Peter Smaill wrote (December 1, 2015):
BWV 61, " Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland"

"Finally the Abgesang of Nicolai's hymn is heard in a five part figural setting, in which the obbligato violins soar up to top g 3 at the close of the Advent jubilation. That Neumeister was her content with only part of a hymn verse is surely a sign of indifference to the chorale. We may safely assume that in later years Bach would not have adopted his textual model so uncritically and might have sought to avoid such mutilation".

Thus Alfred Duerr's statement, following Gillies Whittaker, on the subject of the (uniquely?) truncated closing chorale.

I refute their assumption thus:

As regards Neumeister:
This avoidance of the opening lines of "Wie schoen leuchtet die Morgenstern" is deliberate, and poetically driven: not a matter of indifference. By skipping to the last lines Neumeister emphasises the word "Komm"! which is found in the first lines of vvs 1,2,3 and emphatically placed in line 2 of 5 and 6, all in contrast to the Saviour's "Ich stehe".in 4.

This is an example of the deployment of the rhetorical device of anaphora (repetitio):"Wenn viele absaetze einer Rede auf einerley Art anfangen" , when numerous passages of an oration begin in like manner. This is Gottsched's description of anaphora in his "Redekunst", showing that it is a technique still in use in Bach's time.

As regards Bach:
There is precedent for splitting the chorale. Buxtehude does precisely the same in ending "Die Hochzeit des Lammes", BuxWV

JESUS: Ich komm bald offenbar (Revelation 22:20)
Die Kirche: Amen, Amen
Komm du schoene Freuden Krohne
Bleib nicht lange
Deiner wart ich mit Verlangen

This source is set out by Kerala Snyder in "From Abendmusiken to Christmas Oratorio", ABS Volume 8. Snyder discusses the conceptual links between Neumeister and the earlier generation of poets such as Fritszch, Petersen and Mueller, in whom the emphasis on words such as "Komm O Jesus" and "Klopfe!" (as in v 4) are stressed. So the texts and treatment of the chorale are imbued with North German mysticism, even if a direct link cannot be proven -i.e., a link relating to Bach's visit to Luebeck, where he is often considered to have come upon the model for the Weihnachtsoratorium BWV 248.

It may also be noted that Buxtehude in his organ setting of "Wie schoen leuchtet", BuxWV223 ((?) manualiter in the OUP "Seasonal Chorale Preludes"), treats only the first half of the chorale.

We famously have the complete order of service inscribed by Bach in the ms. of BWV 61. Perhaps this Buxtehude organ setting of the incipit of "Wie schoen leuchtet" was the prelude preceding the Cantata? It would be most appropriate.

Finally, contra these distinguished Bach scholars who disapprove of Bach and Neumeister's collaboration in the closing movement of BWV 61, the ending I subjectively find intendramatic, maintaining the insistent pace of the work; which would have been diluted by the entirety of the stately chorale. I wonder what other listeners feel on this point?

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 1, 2015):
Die Kirche Amen, Amen
Komm du schoene Freuden Krohne
Bleib nicht lange|
Deiner wart ich mit Verlangen

Hymn book facsimile:

Douglas Cowling wrote (December 1, 2015):
We famously have the complete order of service inscribed by Bach in the ms. of BWV 61. Perhaps this Buxtehude organ setting of the incipit of "Wie schoen leuchtet" was the prelude preceding the Cantata? It would be most appropriate.

It would interesting for this group to speculate which chorale-preludes might be attached as preludes to specific cantatas. Were they always short like the "Orgelbüchlein" or did a great occasion call for an extended work.

Some cantatas like "Gott ist Mein König" and "Ein Feste Burg" begin "ex abrupto" and are incomplete without an organ prelude.

Anthony Kozar wrote (December 1, 2015):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Finally, contra these distinguished Bach scholars who disapprove of Bach and Neumeister's collaboration in the closing movement of BWV 61, the ending I subjectively find intensely dramatic, maintaining the insistent pace of the work; which would have been diluted by the entirety of the stately chorale. I wonder what other listeners feel on this point? >
Thanks, Peter, for the fascinating contextual information on the closing chorus/chorale of BWV 61! The bits about Buxtehude's own cantata and "truncated" chorale prelude are especially interesting. I will listen to and play that organ piece with a new appreciation from now on!

This is one of my favorite settings of "Wie schön leuchtet die Morgenstern" (although Bach wrote several wonderful ones) and I too love the drama of this outburst of joyful affirmation ("Amen, Amen!") to the rest of the cantata. I think the fact that Bach chose to write such an elaborate contrapuntal setting of the partial chorale instead of using a simple, four-part harmonization speaks volumes and his choices for text & setting were definitely not done "uncritically" as Dürr suggests.

William Hoffman wrote (December 1, 2015):
A good source for Bach's chorale preludes among the larger works is

Ann Leahy, JSB’s “Leipzig Chorale Preludes” (ed. Robin A Leaver; Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2011: 138).

Here is my reference in the Cantata 61 Intro.: Her study emphasizes the significance and meaning of Bach’s treatment of the chorale melody in these extended organ preludes and their associated texts, examining the treatment of individual stanzas with various theological and biblical themes, citing specific biblical passages.

Anthony Kozar wrote (December 1, 2015):
Peter Smaill wrote:
< It may also be noted that Buxtehude in his organ setting of "Wie schoen leuchtet", BuxWV223 ((?) manualiter in the OUP "Seasonal Chorale Preludes"), treats only the first half of the chorale. >
Having just listened to Buxtehude's setting of "Wie schoen leuchtet" while reading a score, I am unfortunately not in agreement that he sets only the first half.

BuxWV 223 appears to me to be structured like one of Buxtehude's "Praeludiums" with a 2-part division of a "prelude" section and a "fugal" section. Each section treats the entire chorale melody as far as I can see. The "fugal" section treats each phrase of the chorale in imitative style and actually has a repeat for the first "long phrase" of the chorale's barform (AAB).

Having an organ prelude set the first half of the chorale with the chorus singing the second half at the end of a cantata was an interesting structural idea though!

Peter Smaill wrote (December 1, 2015):
[To Anthony Kozar] Thanks Anthony

I think what is the issue here is the exact Buxtehude prelude setting is involved - hence the question mark in my catalogue attribution.

The one in the Oxford collection is manualiter and from your reaction cannot be that listed in the Bux catalogue, or derived from it. But there seems to be no other settings of " Wie Schoen Leuchtet" listed in Kerala Snyders's " Organist in Luebeck".

Perhaps there is an organist or Buxtehude specialist who could cast light on the prelude for manuals attributed to Buxtehude! But whatever it is- only the first half of the chorale is announced.

Aryeh Oron wrote (December 2, 2015):
Cantata BWV 61 - Revised & updated Discography

The discography pages of the Chorale Cantata BWV 61 "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" [I] (Now come, saviour of the gentiles) for the 1st Sunday in Advent on the BCW have been revised and updated.
The cantata is scored for soprano, tenor & bass soloists; 4-part chorus; and orchestra of 2 violins, viola & continuo.
This is a very popular cantata: there are currently 62 complete recordings and 22 recordings of individual movements. The discography is presented chronologically by recording date in 8 pages, a page per a decade. You can see that there are recordings for every taste: big choir, small choir or OVPP, conventional or original instruments, etc On the BCW there are also 5 discussion pages of this cantata, including the recent discussion from this week.
All are linked from the main page of this cantata:
The revised discography includes about 130 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 2 videos 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 61 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.

Mahiruha wrote (December 2, 2015):
[To Peter Smaill] I am in complete agreement with you. The ending is so uplifting and beautiful, just perfect. This has to be one of Bach's diamond cantatas, so short, but so perfectly carved in all its facets. It rivals Kohinoor.

William Hoffman wrote (December 2, 2015):
BCML Notes

Thomas Braatz’s new “Provenance,” see BCW

Cantata 61 BCW Details and revised and updated Discography,
Score Vocal & Piano [1.28 MB],, Score BGA [1.37 MB], References: BGA XVI (Cantatas 61-70, Wilhelm Rust, 1868), NBA KB I/1 (Advent cantatas, Werner Neumann, 1955), Bach Compendium BC A 1, Zwang K 16.

Bach’s Advent Sunday performance calendar shows that he composed three original works for this service (BWV 61, 62, and 36), and that he presented at least four works of other composers, one by Telemann (1734) and three by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1735-36). No Bach performance of the apocryphal Cantata BWV Anh. 141 (??c.1728-50) has been authenticated. Repeat performances have scant documentation.

Date(Cy.) BWV Title Type/Note
12/02/14 BWV 61 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I chorus
11/29/16 ?? BWV 61 Nun komm , der Heiden Heiland I ??repeat
11/28/23(1) (BWV 61) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I repeat
12/03/24(2) BWV 62 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II chorale
12/02/25 and/or
12/01/26 ? BWV 36 (d) Schwingt freudig euch empor chorus/parody (?1st version)
11/28/28(4) no performance recorded
12/02/31(3) BWV 36 Schwingt freudig euch empor chorus/parody/expanded
1732-35(R) (BWV 61) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II repeat
1732-33 (R) BWV 62 Nun komm, der HeidHeiland II chorale
11/28/34 [TVWV 1:1074] Machet die Tore weit/TELEMANN chorus
11/27/35 G.H. Stölzel Kommt her zu mir alle, die ihr mühselig und beladen seid, Mus. A 15:233
?12/02/36 Stölzel two lost cantatas from cycle “Book of Names of Christ”
??c1728-50 (A3) BWV 141 Das ist je gewißlich wahr [TELEMANN TVWV 1:183]

Bach considered setting a fourth cantata for the 1st Sunday in Advent in Leipzig. Picander in his published libretto cycle for 1728-29, left a text, P-1, beginning with the chorus "Machet die Tore weit" (Open wide the portals, Psalm 24:7-10) for November 28, 1728. The only possible surviving remnant is the closing chorale (Mvt. 6), "Gottes Sohn ist kommen" S.1) which may survive as Bach's four-part setting, BWV 317, also known as "Gott, durch deine Güte."

Bach wasn't finished with Advent. On November 28, 1734, he presented Telemann's cantata to the same biblical dictum, "Open wide the portals," TVWV 1:1074, followed by the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, for the six services of the Christmas Season.

Anthony Kozar wrote (December 1, 2015):
OT: Buxtehude's "Wie schoen leuchtet"
Peter Smaill wrote:
< Thanks Anthony
I think what is the issue here is the exact Buxtehude prelude setting is involved - hence the question mark in my catalogue attribution.
The one in the Oxford collection is manualiter and from your reaction cannot be that listed in the Bux catalogue, or derived from it. But there seems to be no other settings of " Wie Schoen Leuchtet" listed in Kerala Snyders's " Organist in Luebeck".
Perhaps there is an organist or Buxtehude specialist who could cast light on the prelude for manuals attributed to Buxtehude! But whatever it is- only the first half of the chorale is announced. >
I'm also not aware of another setting of "Wie schön leuchtet" by Buxtehude but I don't have any "scholarly" references on the matter. I only have the Dover edition of the organ works and the 1957 Walter Kraft recordings. I have also checked a couple of online works lists. These sources only include or list the one setting, BuxWV 223.

Here is a recording of the piece that I know as BuxWV 223:

This is a manualiter work (except for the last three measures) in G major that begins in 6/4 with the chorale tune as a cantus firmus in the left hand.

Is this the Oxford collection you have mentioned?

"Seasonal Chorale Preludes for Manuals Only, Book One" ed. C.H. Trevor (1962):

Is the piece in this volume different than the recording above or has the editor merely included an excerpt?

Thanks for indulging my curiosity!

Peter Smaill wrote (December 3, 2015):
[To Anthony Kozar] Buxtehude and the splitting of " Wie Schoen Leuchtet..."

Yes that solves the question- the Oxford collection only has the B section which is a separated manualiter setting of the opening section of the chorale . The next section is the tail with its short homophonic chords marking the words " Lieblich! freundlich!"

So although not omitting any part of the chorale Buxtehude is content to split it up..and certainly in the text setting I mentioned he does omit the opening section entirely, just like Bach in BWV 61.

Anthony Kozar wrote (December 4, 2015):
[To Peter Smaill] Thanks very much for resolving the mystery!


Cantata BWV 61: Details
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