This chorale cantata for Christmas Day starts appropriately with a rousing and upbeat orchestral introduction before the chorus joins in with the hymn tune. The tune itself is very ancient, being identifiable at least as early as the tenth century sequence Grates omnes reddamus. This is followed by a soprano recitative that interweaves the lines of the second verse of the chorale. The first aria, for tenor, is introduced with a wailing chorus of oboes playing an attractive dotted rhythm. The final recitative is followed by a reintroduction of the dotted rhythm in the orchestral accompaniment of the final aria, a duet for soprano and alto. The cantata closes with a setting of the final verse of the hymn.
Copyright © 1996 & 1998, Simon Crouch.