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This selection, more than any other speaks to me during the holiday season.  It brings back the happy moments of days gone past and lends strength to continue forward in the present.

Take care friends.

 

“Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (original: “Nu kom der Heyden heyland”, English: “Savior of the nations, come”, literally: Now come, Saviour of the heathen) is a Lutheran chorale of 1524 with words written by Martin Luther, based on “Veni redemptor gentium” by Ambrose, and a melody based on its plainchant. It was printed in the Erfurt Enchiridion of 1524.

The song was the prominent hymn for the first Sunday of Advent for centuries. It was used widely in organ settings by Protestant Baroque composers, most notably Johann Sebastian Bach, who also composed two church cantatas beginning with the hymn. Later settings include works by Max Reger, Brian Easdale and Siegfried Strohbach.

English versions include “Savior of the nations, come” by William Morton Reynolds, published in 1851.

“Johann Sebastian Bach composed the church cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Now come, Savior of the heathens),[1] BWV 62, in Leipzig for the first Sunday in Advent and first performed it on 3 December 1724. The chorale cantata is based on Martin Luther‘s Advent hymnNun komm, der Heiden Heiland“. It is part of his chorale cantata cycle.”

 

1. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
dass sich wunder alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.

2. Er ging aus der Kammer sein,
dem königlichen Saal so rein,
Gott von Art und Mensch, ein Held;
sein’ Weg er zu laufen eilt.

3. Sein Lauf kam vom Vater her
und kehrt wieder zum Vater,
fuhr hinunter zu der Höll
und wieder zu Gottes Stuhl.

4. Dein Krippen glänzt hell und klar,
die Nacht gibt ein neu Licht dar.
Dunkel muss nicht kommen drein,
der Glaub bleib immer im Schein.

5. Lob sei Gott dem Vater g’tan;
Lob sei Gott seim ein’gen Sohn,
Lob sei Gott dem Heilgen Geist
immer und in Ewigkeit.

1. Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin’s Son, here make Thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

2. Not by human flesh and blood;
By the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh,
Woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.

3. Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

4. From the Father forth He came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell
High the song of triumph swell!

5. Thou, the Father’s only Son,
Hast over sin the victory won.
Boundless shall Thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

6. Brightly doth Thy manger shine,
Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin overcloud this light;
Ever be our faith thus bright.

7. Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.

One of my favourite holiday tunes. :)

 

The old hymn tune is in four lines, the last one equal to the first.[5] The instrumental ritornello of the opening chorus already quotes this line, first in the continuo, then slightly different in meter in the oboes.[2][6] Other than these quotes, the orchestra plays a free concerto with the oboes introducing a theme, the first violin playing figuration. The ritornello appears shortened three times to separate the lines of the text and in full at the end.[2] The soprano sings the cantus firmus in long notes, while the lower voices prepare each entry in imitation.[6] Alfred Dürr suggests that Bach was inspired to the festive setting in 6/4 time by the entry into Jerusalem.[2] Christoph Wolff stresses that the instrumentation is simple because Advent was a “season of abstinence”.[3] Church music was allowed in Leipzig only on the first Sunday of Advent. John Eliot Gardiner observes about all three extant cantatas for this occasion, also Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61, and Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV 36, which all deal with Luther’s hymn, that they “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.”[4]

 

Bach wrote the cantata in 1724, his second year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, for the First Sunday of Advent.[2] The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Romans, night is advanced, day will come (Romans 13:11–14), and from the Gospel of Matthew, the Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–9). The cantata is based on Martin Luther’s chorale in eight stanzas “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland“, the number one hymn to begin the Liturgical year in all Lutheran hymnals.[3] The unknown poet kept the first and last stanza, paraphrased stanzas 2 and 3 to an aria, stanzas 4 and 5 to a recitative, the remaining stanzas to an aria and a duet recitative.

Bach first performed the cantata on 3 December 1724,[2] and he performed it again in 1736, adding a part for violone in all movements, after the Thomasschule had bought an instrument at an auction in 1735.[4] Bach’s successor Johann Friedrich Doles performed the cantata after Bach’s death.[3]

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