Second day of Christmas

Thursday 26 December 2019

Second day of Christmas

On this second day of Christmas, the cantata avalanche continues with four Leipzig cantatas.

Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes, BWV 40, was composed in 1723, Bach's first year in Leipzig, performed in both main churches, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche.

Christum wir sollen loben schon, BWV 121, was created one year later in 1724, based on a hymn by Martin Luther. The opening bars sound like a much older motet, which is Bach's homage to the time and sound of the original hymn.

Selig ist der Mann, BWV 57, is from the year after that, 1725, but does not have the readings for second day of Christmas as its theme - it honours Saint Stephen, the first martyr in Christendom, whose nameday falls on December 26th.

Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend, BWV 248, is the second cantata from the Christmas Oratorio (1734). The first cantata (for Christmas Day) described the birth of Jesus, the libretto of this second cantata covers the annunciation to the shepherds.

Cantatas

  • Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes, BWV 40
    (first performance 26 December 1723, Leipzig period)
  • Christum wir sollen loben schon, BWV 121
    (first performance 26 December 1724, Leipzig period)
  • Selig ist der Mann, BWV 57
    (first performance 26 December 1725, Leipzig period)
  • Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend, BWV 248
    (first performance 26 December 1734 - Christmas Oratorio Part II, Leipzig period)

Extra information

The Netherlands Bach Society website (in Dutch) has more information and a performance of BWV 40 and 57:
https://bachvereniging.nl/nl/bwv/bwv-40/
https://bachvereniging.nl/nl/bwv/bwv-57/