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Musical Context of Bach Cantatas
Motets & Chorales for Christmas


Christmas Day

Readings: Epistle: Titus 2: 11-14 / Isaiah 9: 2-7; Gospel: Luke 2: 1-14

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

2nd Day of Christmas, St Stefanus Day (Dec 26) [Christmas 2]

Readings: Epistle: Titus. 3: 4-7 / Acts 6: 8-15 & 7: 55-60; Gospel: Matthew 23: 35-39 / Luke 2: 15-20

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event

3rd of Christmas, St John's Day (Dec 27) [Christmas 2]

Readings: Epistle: Hebrews 1: 1-14 / Ecclesiastical Letters 15: 1-8; Gospel: John 1: 1-14

Dates in the lifetime of J.S. Bach, including works composed for the event


Motets and Chorales for Christmas


Christmas Festival Chorales

William Hoffman wrote (February 28, 2015):
Bach’s experience with chorale composition began about 1700 with shorter organ works of organ chorale settings, widely known as organ chorale preludes. The church year focus was the Christmas Season with the most popular and widest repertory that began with sacred songs for Advent, the beginning of the church year and overlapping with the Christmas season. The most popular services were the three-day Christmas Festival: Christmas Day, 2nd Day of Christmas (Annunciation of the Angels) and 3rd Day of Christmas (Adoration of the Shepherds). The season extended to the pivotal time at the turn of the calendar year and continued to the Feast of Epiphany. In addition, Christmas chorales were permitted through the Feast of the Purification of Mary (Mariae Reinigung), also known as the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, on February 2, which also is the concluding festival of Epiphany Time.

Some of Bach’s earliest organ chorale settings are found in the so-called Neumeister Collection, only recently found, as well as some of the Miscellaneous (or “separate”) chorales and early collections of Ringk and Rudorff and the still-disputed “Organ Chorales from Miscellaneous Sources” edited by Reinmar Emans (B
ärenreiter: Kassel,BA 5251, 2008. As with the later, systematic Orgelbüchlein Collection composed in Weimar, the vast majority of the settings involve de tempore pieces composed for the first half of the church year, from Advent to Trinityfest. As with many of Bach’s early Sunday service cantata settings, these chorale settings reflect the popularity of hymns composed for the major events in the life of Jesus Christ, from birth to Ascension and extending to Pentecost.

For example,
Bach's incomplete Orgelbüchlein manuscript contains music for 46 organ chorales, of a total of 164 incipits for the church year listed by Bach. Interestingly, it has settings in the initial de tempore (Nos. 1-60) section for 26 of the first 27 chorales, Advent to Passiontide, omits 13 of the next 26 (Nos. 27 to 51), Easter through Pentecost, but has none of the nine succeeding Trinity Time and festival designated chorales. In the omnes tempore section, Nos. 61-164, only 10 chorales are set (designated BWV 635-644) of the more than 100 systematically listed by theme.

In contrast, the omnes tempore (anytime) second half of the church year, the Trinity Time of thematic Sunday services, deals with church teachings through the Catechism and Communion as well as the timeless themes of Trinity, Justification, and Christian Life & Conduct with the emphasis on communion and penitential Psalms, as reflected in the systematic pattern of paired miracles and teachings for each Sunday. Here, Bach had considerable freedom in the choice of chorales. The development and uses of the chorale are explained in BCW, Musical Context of Bach Cantatas, Motets & Chorales for Sundays in Advent,

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ’

Luther’s popular Christmas chorale, “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (All Praise to Thee, O Jesus Christ), was the Hymn of the Day (de tempore) during Christmas Time in Leipzig, says Bach’s hymnbook, the Vopelius Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch of 1682.1 Its standing for the first and third days of Christmas and Bach’s uses are affirmed in Günther Stiller’s JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig.2 In addition to the five performances of Cantata 91 in Leipzig, Bach used the chorale in the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, and Christmas chorus Cantata 64, as well as in organ chorale prelude settings and in two free-standing plain chorales. Designated three-day
Christmas Festival Chorales, according to Stiller (Ibid.: 234-36), are: “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (Christmas Day),“Wir Christenleut” (2nd Day of Christmas), “Jesu, meine Freude=Jesu, meines Herzens Freud” (3rd Day of Christmas, not in NLGB, Z4798; Jesus hymn)

Besides chorale Cantata 91, “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (G Major, using Stanzas 1, 2, and 7), Bach first used the hymn in Cantata 64, “Sehet, Welch eine Liebe, for the Third Day of Christmas, 1723, as a plain chorale, “Das hat er alles uns getan (Stanza 7, mixolydian) as well as the same stanza plain chorale in the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248/28 (III/5) for the Third Day of Christmas (A Major mixolydian), and also as plain chorale 248/7 with Stanza 6, “Er ist auf Erden kommen arm,” for Christmas Day, 1734 (G Major). Bach also set the melody as a plain chorale, BWV 314, ?c.1730, in A Major). It is also found in Sebastian Bach’s Chorale Buch c.1740, as Nos. 8 and 20 (Zahn melody 1947) in the cantus firmus and basso continuo.

There are various setting of organ chorale preludes on “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ.” Best known are BWV 604 (Orgelbüchlein No. 7, 1713/15, G Major), and BWV 697 (Kirnberger, 1707/17, part of a possible fughetta cycle for Advent and Christmas, part of the so-called “J. P. Kirnberger collection” (1777, purchased from Breitkopf and similar to copies owned by Bach students C. F. Penzel and J. C. Oley). Another organ chorale prelude setting, BWV 323 (Miscellaneous, G major), is not included in the NBA – is currently listed by the Grove Music Online dictionary as being a composition by Johann Michael Bach in the Neumeister Collection. Also disputed is the Miscellaneous short prelude setting, BWV 722, part of a student collection of four Christmas chorales, and its variant, BWV 722a (both in G Major), says Peter Williams in The Organ Music of Bach.3

The original Luther chorale Text: “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (1524), EKG 15, is found in Francis Browne’s English translation, BCW,; Chorale Melody (CM): “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (Zahn 1947); Composer: Anonymous (1370) or Martin Luther (1524). The hymn was first printed in Johann Walter’s collection of 3- to 5-part settings of chorale melodies entitled Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn” (1424, Wittenberg). The melody is similar to the Christmas “Vom Himmel” hymns. “This chorale belongs to the type of ‘expansions’ of “Leisen’ and other German spiritual songs from the late Middle Ages.” This often involves a few lines in non-Bar repeat form, sometimes with a closing phrase, here “Kyrieleis” (Kyrie eleison) or “Allelujah” The other types Luther used were Latin hymns, Latin antiphons, and folk songs. “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” was composed for Christmas by Luther, as were “Christum, wir sollen loben schon” (Chorale Cantata 121, Christmas 2, 1724), ”Vom “Himmel Hoch,” and Vom Himmel kam der Engle Schar.” *Details of the melody and text are found at BCW, as were “ (Melody & Text,Use of the CM by Bach, Use of the CM by other composers).

The text and music to the hymn “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” has medieval origins, as Klaus Hofmann observes in his extensive liner notes.4 “The first stanza of this hymn was known long before the Reformation and was frequently sung on Christmas Day as the people’s response to the [Latin liturgical] sequence Grates nunc omnes,” cited in Luther’s Works, Vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns.5 The sequence is related to the nativity and attributed to Notker Balbulus of St. Gall (d.912) and sanctioned by Luther. The earliest source is a low-German manuscript from about 1370. The ending refrain Kyrioleis marks it as a Leise.

The sequence was translated into German as “Dancksagen wir alle” and is found in many Lutheran hymnals, including Bach’s hymnbook, Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682. It is listed near the end of the Christmas section as Nos. 39a and b to text variants with “b” published in Erfurt in 1527. The sequence then attributed to St. Gregory and translated into German by Ersamus deals with incarnation and redemption. In the NLGB the sung sequence is found just before the SATB Latin hymn Virga Jesse flourit (Jesse’s stem has blossomed, No. 40), which Bach used as a Christmas interpolation in his 1723 version of the Latin Magnifcat, BWV 243/21. The NLGB No. 41 is the Latin chant Responsorium on the Nativity of Christ, Verbum caro factum est (And the word became flesh, HDEKM I,1 235/236).

For centuries, “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” “has been the prominent hymn (Hauptlied) for Christmas Day in German speaking Lutheranism, but has also been used in different translations internationally,” says Wikipedia (,_Jesu_Christ). “It has appeared in hymnals of various denominations including the Catholic Church.” Various sources are found in English translations. As “All Praise to Your, Eternal Lord,” it is No. 48 in the Christmas Section of the Lutheran Book of Worship (Aubsburg Publishing, Minneapolis MN, 1978). Five stanzas are used with the “Hallelujah” ending instead of “Kyrieoleis” (Lord have mercy). It is entitled “All Praise to Thee, Eternal God,” No. 80 in the Christmas section, with five similar stanzas and ending with the “Hallelujah,” in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod hymnbook, The Lutheran Hymnal (Concordia Publishing: St. Louis, 1941). A different melody with text, “Good Christians Friends, Rejoice and Sing!” (Cyril A. Arlington, 1872-1955), is No. 385 in the Easter section of the current Evangelical Lutheran Worship Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis MI, 2006, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). The melody is entitled Gelobet sei Gott and attributed to Melchior Vulpius (1570-1615),

Christmas Day Musical Sequence

In the MUSICAL SEQUENCE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY,6 BCW contributor Douglas Cowling lists various liturgical musical settings, including motets and chorales as well as Latin settings of the Kyrie and Gloria. Following the Epistle: Titus 2:11-14 (The grace of God has appeared), Cowling lists the organ prelude for the Congregational Gradual Hymn of the Day (de tempore) as “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ.” Here is the complete musical sequence: +Tower bells rung at 6 am and again at 7 am: The 5200 kg bell “Gloriosa” (1477) (pitched in A) was rung only on festivals. Candles lit at 7 am, Archdeacon of Leipzig officiates as celebrant; Deacon assists. Musicians must be in loft by final bell or be fined. +Organ Prelude on “Puer Natus” (BWV 603 ­ Orgelbüchlein?). Settings by Bach or other composers before all chorales & choral works:
+Introit Hymn/Motet by Choir: “Puer Natus In Bethlehem.” Settings by Praetorius or Schein are possible. +Organ Prelude before Kyrie to establish key and cover tuning. +Missa Brevis: Kyrie & Gloria (Plainsong Gloria intonation sung by Celebrant), A concerted setting in Latin was sung from Christmas Day to Epiphany. Bach¹s own missae breve are generally from his later tenure in Leipzig but may have been used with later performances of the cantata: B minor (1733) ­ used in B Minor Mass (BWV 232) [only missa brevis with brass]; BWV 233 - F major (1738) based on Christmas Cantata 40, “Dazu ist Erscheinen”; BWV 233a ­ Kyrie (1708-1712); BWV 234 ­ A major (1738); BWV 235 ­ G minor (1738); BWV 236 ­ G Major (1738). +Collect/Prayer of Day sung in Latin plainsong by Celebrant. Choral Responses sung to four-part polyphony from Vopelius collection Neue Leipziger Gesangbuch (Ibid.: FN 1).
+Epistle: Titus 2:11-14 (The grace of God has appeared) sung by Deacon in German to plainsong:
+Organ Prelude on “Gelobet seist du” (BWV 314 or 604?), Congregational Gradual Hymn of the Day (de tempore): “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ”:
+Gospel choral responses sung in six-part polyphony from Vopelius collection. Gospel: Luke 2: 1-14 (Birth of Christ) sung by Deacon in German to plainsong:
+Organ Prelude on “Wir glauben all an einen Gott” (BWV 1098?), Congregational Creed Chorale: “Wir glauben all an einen Gott” (Luther). +Organ Prelude before Cantata: First Cantata (1723); BWV 63 ­ “Christen, ätzet diesen Tag”; chorale Cantata 91, “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (1724). +Organ Prelude on “Ein Kindelein so löbelich” (BWV 719?), Congregational Pulpit Hymn after the Cantata (Offertory), “Ein Kindelein so löbelich.” +Sursum Corda sung in Latin in six-part polyphony from Vopelius collection Preface sung in Latin by Celebrant. +Sanctus (without Benedictus), A concerted setting was sung in Latin during Christmas week. Two settings date from same year (1723) as Cantata 63: BWV 237 C major [with brass], BWV 238 ­ D major. Sanctus BWV 232iii sung in 1724. Hand bells rung at the altar at the end of the Sanctus. +Verba (Words of Institution) sung in German plainsong by Celebrant. +Second Cantata “sub communione” during Communion? Unknown if by Bach or other composer;Bach¹s motet “Lobet den Herrn” has a traditional Christmas text. +Other congregational hymns during Communion: introduced by organ prelude, “Ich freue mich in dir” (Ziegler), ”Wir Christenleut: (Fuger). +Final Prayer & Benediction: sung with 4 part polyphony from Vopelius. Organ Prelude on “Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem,” Final Congregational Hymn: “Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem.” German repeat of Introit chorale. CHRISTMAS CHORALES listed in the NLGB (The two chorale texts, “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her” and “Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar”, are quite similar in content just as the melody for “Puer natus in Bethlehem” has much in common with the melody for “Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar”). The NLGB listing and Bach’s usages (BWV) are:
Vom “Himmel hoch da kam ich her” (Luther, NLGB 12); BWV 248/9 (6), 243a/A (1), BWV 606 (Orgelbüchlein 9), 700, 701, 738(a), 769(a) (Canonic Variations), Anh. 63-64. Vom Himmel kam der Engle Schar” (Luther, NLGB 13), BWV 607 (Orgelbüchlein 9).
A solis ortus” (J. H. Schein, NLB 14), not set by Bach. Christum wir sollen dich loben schon (Luther, NLGB 15), BWV 121/1, BWV 121/6(8); BWV 611, 696.
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (Luther, NLGB 16) BWV 64/2(7), BWV 91/1(1), BWV 91/2(2), BWV 91/6 (7), BWV 248/7(6), BWV 248/28 (7); BWV 314, 604 , 697, 722(a), 723. Der Tag, der ist so Freudenreich (Luther, NLGB 18), BWV 294 605, 719.
Nun ist es Zeit zu singen hell (Helmbold, NLGB 19), not set by Bach.
In dulci jubilo” (Anon., NLGB 20), BWV 368, 608, 729. Puer natus in Bethlehem (Anon., NLGB 21a) BWV 65/2, 603 (or “Ein Kind geboren in Bethlehem,” NLGB 21b). Un ist geboren ein Kindlein (Luther, NLGB 22), not set by Bach.
Weil Maria schwanger ging (Michael Weiss, NLGB 25), not set by Bach.
Heut sind die lieben Engelein” (N. Hermann, NLGB 27), not set by Bach. Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geboren” (Anon., NLGB 28), BWV 414 (melody “Ach, bleib, bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ”). Laßt uns alle fröliche sein” (J. Forster, NLGB 29), not set by Bach. Wir Christenleut!” (Füger, NLGB30) BWV 40/3(3), BWV 110/7(5), BWV 248/14(12), 612, 710, 1090. Lobt Gott, ihr Christen allzugleich” (N. Hermann, NLGB 31) BWV 151/5(8), 609, 732. Ermuntre dich, mein schwachen Geist” (J. Rist, NLGB 37) BWV 248/12(9), 454. Dancksagen wir alle” (sequence Grates nunc omnes,” Balbulus, NLGB 39a,b.
Virga Jesse flourit” (Anon, NLGB 40), 243a/D.

OTHER CHORALES USED IN BACH CHRISTMAS WORKS and their NLGB usage are listed below (Some are found in other sections of the NLGB or are more contemporary, such as the Paul Gerhardt chorales, with akternate, established melodoies, four found in the Christmas Oratorio (1734-35).

Ach lieben Christen seid getrost” (Gigas, NLGB 326, Death & Dying) 256 (mel. “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns halt”). Freuet euch, ihr Christen alle” (Hagius, NLGB 116, Ascension) BWV 40/8(4).
Hast du den, Jesu” (Fritsch, 1668, Soul/Christ dialogue, not in NLGB) (mel. Lobe den Herren, den (Ch.) BWV 57/8(6). Ich freue mich in dir” (Ziegler, 1697; not in NLGB) BWV 133/1, BWV 133/6(4), 465 (SG), 197a/7(4)=398 (mel. “O Gott, du frommer Gott”). Jesu, meine Freude” (Francke, NLGB 301, Cross, Persecution) BWV 64/8(5), 610 (OB). |Nun freut euch, Gotteskinder all” (Alberus, NLGB 114, Ascension), BWV 387. Schaut, schaut, was ist für Wunder dar” (Gerhardt 1666, not in NLGB) BWV 248/17(8) (mel. “Vom Himmel hoch”). Schwing dich auf zu deinen Gott” (Gerhardt 1653, not in NLGB), BWV 40/6(2) (mel. Meine Hoffnung stehet feste”). Warum sollt ich mich den grämmen” (Gerhardt 1653, not in NLGB) BWV 248/33(15) (mel. “Frolich soll mein. Herze springen”). Was frag ich nach der Welt” (Pfefferkorn 1667, not in NLGB), BWV 64/4 (mel. O Gott, du frommer Gott). Wie soll ich dich empfangen” (Gerhardt 1653, not in NLGB) BWV 248/5(8) (mel. Herzlich tut mich verlangen) Wir singen dir, Immanuel” (Gerhardt 1653, not in NLGB), 248/23 (mel. “Vom Himmel hoch” (Ch.). Christmas Chorales in the Orgelbüchlein (OB), numbered (Nos. 5-15), followed by hymns not in the OB.
Christmas, (10 OB, 1 OB not set, 13 others):

5. BWV 603 — “Puer natus in Bethlehem”; also “Ein Kind geboren in Bethlehem” or “Ehre sei dir, Christe, der du liedest Not,” BWV 407(PC), SBCB11 (Z192b) BWV 1097(NC), See OB 31 (Lent-Passiontide)
OB 6. “Lob sei Gott in des Himmels Thron” (Z1748, no NLGB) (melody: Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, cf OB-7; Altenberg; see; Pachelbel, PWC 236*
7. BWV 604
-- “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ”(NLGB 16, Luther, Z1947); CC BWV 91(Ch.1), 314(PC), SBCB8,20 (Z1947); BWV 697(KC), BWV 722-?723(MC); +OB6
8. BWV 605
— “Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich”; or “Ein Kindlein so löbelich”; BWV 719(NC), Emans 53, BWV 294(PC), SBCB16-17,24-25 (Z 7870)
9. BWV 606/607
– “Von Himmel hoch, da kamm ich her” = “VHh, der Engel Schar” (Z346); SBCB9,10, BWV 700-01(KC), 738(a), BWV 769(a)(MC); Anh. 63, 64
10. BWV 610, “Jesu, meine Freude”; BWV 358(PC); BWV 1103(NC); motet BWV 227/1,3,5,7,9,11 [Jesus Hymn]
11. BWV 608
— “In dulci jubilo” (Z4897); SBCB18-19, BWV 729(MC); BWV ?751(MC)
12. BWV 609
— “Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich” = Kommt her, lieben Schwesterlein” (no NLGB); BWV 376(PC); SBCB21 (Z198) BWV 732(MC), Emans 129
13. BWV 610
— “Jesu, meine Freude” (?also “Selig ist die Seele”); BWV 713(a)(KC), BWV 753 ?fragment(MC), BWV 1105(NC); Anh.58(MC); Anh. 59?(MC); BWV 358(PC), SBCB 231 (see Cross)
14. BWV 611
— “Christum wir sollen loben schon”; CC BWV 121(Ch.2), SBCB 7 (Z297), BWV 696(KC)
15. BWV 612
— “Wir Christenleut’” (haben jetzund Freud); SBCB22 (Z2072), BWV 710(KC), BWV 1090(NC); BWV deest (Emans)
-- “Da Christus geboren war Freuten/sammelt” (Z4816, no NLGB); SBCB12-13; = “Singen wir aus Herzens grund,” see Holy Communion (omnes tempore), OB 78-86.
-- “Das neugeborne Kindlein”; CC BWV 122(SaCh.)
-- “Ermuntre dich, mein schwachen Geist”;
SBCB24-25 (Z5741)=”Du Lebensfürst, HJC”; BWV 454(SG), 248/12(PC)
-- “Freuet euch, ihr Christen alle”: BWV 40/8(PC), SBCB14-15 (Z7880a)
-- “Hilf, Herr Jesu, laß gelingen”; BWV 344(PC)
-- “Gottes Sohn ist kommen”; BWV 703(KC), BWV 724(MC); BWV 318(PC), SBCB6 (Z3294); alt. mel. “Gott, durch deine Güte,” See Advent
-- “Gott, durch deine Güte”; BWV 724(MC)
-- “Ich freue mich in dir”; CC BWV 133(Ch.3), 465(SB)
-- “Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier”: BWV 469(SG)
-- “Ihr gestirn, ihr hohlen lüfte”; BWV 366(PC, 476(SG)
-- “Laßt uns alle frïölich sein” (Z1161, NLGB 29); SBCB23
-- “Lobe den Herrn, den mächtigen”(mel. “Hast du denn, Jesu”); BWV57/8(PC)
-- “Nun freut euch, Gotteskinder all”; BWV 387(PC)
-- “O Jesulein, suß,”
BWV 493(SG)
-- Singen wir aus Herzensgrund (Z4816c-f, NLGB 220, Communion); BWV 187/7(Tr.7), see Christmas, “Das Christus geboren war” -- “Uns ist ein Kindlein heut geboren”; BWV 414(PC)


AMB – Anna Magdalena Buch AS = Alternate setting
CP = Chorale Partitas, BWV 765-771
Cü III = Clavierübung III (Mass & Catechism Chorales), BWV 669-689 D = Doubtful work of JSB
KC = Kirnberger Chorales, BWV 690-713
MC = Miscellaneous Chorale Preludes, 714-64, etc.
NC = Neumeister Chorale Collection, BWV 1090-1120
OB = Orgelbüchlein Collection, BWV 599-644 PC = Plain Chorale, BWV 250-438, etc., c.1730
SBCB = Sebastian Bach’s Chorale Buch c.1740 SC = Schubler Chorales, 645-50 1746 SG = Schmelli Gesangbuch 1735
18 = Great 18 (Leipzig) Organ Chorale Collection, BWV 651-668
CH = Communion (& vespers) hymn
GH – Gradual Hymn (between Epistle & Gospel), Hymn de tempore PH = Pulpit Hymn before sermon
CC = Chorale Cantata, (CC) = Chorale Choru
EC = Elaborated Chorale setting
OC = Organ Chorale
EOC = Emans Organ Chorales = NBA KB IV/10 (2007)
NLGB = Das Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch> 1682 (Gottfried Vopelius)
Z = Johannes Zahn Melody Catalogue

Christmas Festival Introit Psalm Motets

The established polyphonic motet opening Introit Psalm setting in Bach’s time in Leipzig for the three-day Christmas Festival was: The Introit Psalm for Christmas Day was Psalm 92, Bonum est confiteri (It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, KJV), says Richard Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.7 There are motet settings (not readily accessible) of Palestrina, di Lasso, and Sch
ütz that Bach may have performed. The full KJV text is Bach may have presented some of these motets, found in his motet collection, the Bodenschatz Florilegium Portense.8

The Introit Psalm for the 2nd Day of Christmas was Psalm 98, Cantate Domino canticum novum (O sing unto the Lord a new song), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 139). The full KJV text is There are motet settings of Psalm 98 by Monteverdi (, Hans Leo Hassler (, Heinrich Schütz (SWV 463,,_SWV_463_(Heinrich_Schütz), and Buxtehude (

The Introit Psalm for the 3rd Day of Christmas was Psalm 100, Jubilate Deo omnie terra (Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands, KJV), says Petzoldt (Ibid.: 199). The full KJV text is Polyphonic motets based on the Gregorian chant in recordings/music are by: Hans Leo Hassler (1601, 8 voices),,_psalmum_dicite_a_8_(Hans_Leo_Hassler);
Johann Stadlmayr, Heinrch Schtz, Giovanni Gabrieli,; and Palestrina (8 voices),, select Jubilate Deo omnis terra (a8) 3:54 $0.99. It is possible that Bach may have performed one or more of these motets, given their joyous nature reflected in the opening line, “Ich freue mich in dir” (I rejoice in you, Isaiah 61:10).


1 NLGB, BACH'S HYMN BOOK: Jürgen Grimm, "Das neu [?] Leipziger Gesangbuch des Gottfried Vopelius (Leipzig 1682),"Berlin: Merseburger, 1969. ML 3168 G75.
2 Stiller, JSB and Liturgical Life in Leipzig, English Ed. with extensive footnotes (Concordia Publishing: St. Louis Mo. 1984: 234).
3 Williams, Bach Organ Music, 2nd ed. (Cambridge Univ. Press 2003: 464-66).
Hofmann Cantata 91 liner notes,[BIS-SACD1481].pdf; BCW Recording details,
5 Luther’s Works, Vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns; ed. Ulrich S. Leupold (Fortress Press: Philadelphia PA, 1965: 240, 25).
6 Cowling (February 6, 2009), Cantata 63, BCML Discussions Parts 3,
7 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: Christmas Day Commentary, 83-89; Cantata 91 text & Luther hymn text, 98-101; Cantata 91 Commentary, 100-107).
8 BACH'S MOTET COLLECTION: Otto Riemer, "Erhard Bodenschatz und sein Florilegium Portense" Schünigen: Kaminsky,1927; ML 410 B67R4.
*Another excellent BCW chorale resource, thanks to Thomas Braatz, Francis Browne & Aryeh Oron, is:


Musical Context of Bach Cantatas: Table of Motets & Chorales for Events in the Lutheran Church Year

Lutheran Church Year: Main Page and Explanation | LCY - Event Table | LCY 2000-2005 | LCY 2006-2010 | LCY 2011-2015 | LCY 2016-2020
Sundays & Holidays in the Lifetime of J.S. Bach | Performance Dates of Bach’s Vocal Works
Readings from the Epistles and the Gospels for each Event | Motets & Chorales for Events in the LCY
Discussions: Events in the Lutheran Church Year: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Readings from the Bible


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