All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society
Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland
In this Advent cantata, Bach juxtaposes the militancy and the vulnerability of the Messiah.
For Lutherans, the festive start to the liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent had a hopeful character. After all, it was almost Christmas time. But this Sunday also heralded a period of austerity and reflection, which lasted until Christmas Day. Bach therefore orchestrated the enthusiastic and expectant opening of this cantata quite modestly. The festive timpani and trumpets are saved for the Nativity, although the chorale melody in the soprano is accompanied by a horn. The words of the cantata are derived from Luther’s Advent chorale Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, which was well-known at the time. The first and the last movement follow Luther’s text literally, and the middle movements are based on it.
The worldly joy in anticipating the birth of Jesus is underlined by an extensive tenor aria in a dancing rhythm. Bach juxtaposes the militancy and the vulnerability of the Messiah. The bass sings a militant aria, whereby the strings play along with the continuo in fiery unison. However, this warlike idiom is immediately softened by a recitative, in which the soprano and alto shyly approach the crib hand in hand.
On his score, Bach wrote down all the elements of the service on the first Sunday of Advent in Leipzig: when the organist had to play what, when there were readings and prayers, and when it was the cantata’s turn, etc. He did the same on his score for BWV 61, which was also a cantata for the first Sunday of Advent. That would seem logical, as he wrote the piece in Weimar, and it was the first Advent cantata that he performed in Leipzig. In that case, it could well have served as a personal prompt. One year later, he was completely at home in the liturgical practice of Leipzig, so he probably no longer needed prompts. Maybe the notes were meant for someone who played the organ and conducted in Bach’s absence. That may have been the case, for instance, when the cantata was revived in 1736 and Bach was away giving an organ recital at the Church of our Lady in Dresden as the newly appointed court composer.
- Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
- Based on Luther’s Advent chorale 'Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland', 1524 – the first and last movement literally, and the rest in an adaptation by an anonymous lyricist
- first Sunday in Advent
- first performance
- 3 December 1724, further performances in the years 1732-35 and 1736?
Cast & Crew
|release date||5 December 2014|
|recording date||30 November 2013|
|Location||Walloon Church, Amsterdam|
|Conductor||Jos van Veldhoven|
|ripieno soprano||Lauren Armishaw, Annelies Brants|
|ripieno alto||Victoria Cassano McDonald, Elsbeth Gerritsen, Barnabás Hegyi|
|ripieno tenor||Robert Buckland, João Moreira|
|ripieno bass||Jelle Draijer, Lionel Meunier|
|violin 1||Shunske Sato, Anneke van Haaften, Annelies van der Vegt|
|violin 2||Sayuri Yamagata, Paulien Kostense, Lidewij van der Voort|
|viola||Staas Swierstra, Esther van der Eijk|
|cello||Lucia Swarts, Richte van der Meer|
|double bass||Maggie Urquhart|
|oboe||Frank de Bruine, Peter Frankenberg|
|positive organ||Pieter-Jan Belder|
|church organ||Leo van Doeselaar|
|organ registration||Paul Meerwijk|
|concert Production||Marco Meijdam, Imke Deters|
|PRODUCER||Frank van der Weij|
|FILM DIRECTOR||Lucas van Woerkum|
|DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY||Sal Kroonenberg|
|CAMERA||Sal Kroonenberg, Jorrit Garretsen, Robert Berger, Benjamin Sparschuh|
|FILM EDITORS||Lucas van Woerkum & Frank van der Weij|
|MUSIC RECORDING PRODUCER||Leo de Klerk|
|PRODUCTION ASSISTANT||Zoë de Wilde|
|Score reader||Jan Van den Bossche|
|MAKE UP||Marloes Bovenlander, Jamila el Bouch|
|CAMERA ASSISTaNT||Chris Tjong Ayong|
|MUSIC PRODUCER'S ASSISTANT||Menno van Delft|
|MUSIC RECORDING ASSISTANTS||Jaap van Stenis, Jaap Firet, Bobby Verbakel, Luuk Hoogstraten|
|MUSIC EDIT AND MIX||Leo de Klerk, Frank van der Weij|
|MUSIC EDIT & MIX ASSSISTANT||Martijn Snoeren|
|interviews||Onno van Ameijde|
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
des sich wundert alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.
2. Aria (Tenor)
Bewundert, o Menschen,
dies grosse Geheimnis:
der höchste Beherrscher
erscheinet der Welt.
Hier werden die Schätze
des Himmels entdecket,
hier wird uns ein göttliches Manna bestellt,
die Keuschheit wird gar nicht beflecket.
3. Rezitativ (Bass)
So geht aus Gottes Herrlichkeit und Thron
sein eingeborner Sohn.
Der Held aus Juda bricht herein,
den Weg mit Freudigkeit zu laufen
und uns Gefallne zu erkaufen.
O heller Glanz, o wunderbarer Segensschein!
4. Aria (Bass)
Streite, siege, starker Held!
Sei vor uns im Fleische kräftig!
Sei geschäftig, das Vermögen
in uns Schwachen
stark zu machen!
5. Rezitativ (Sopran, Alt)
Wir ehren diese Herrlichkeit
und nahen nun zu deiner Krippen
und preisen mit erfreuten Lippen,
was du uns zubereit';
die Dunkelheit verstört' uns nicht
und sahen dein unendlich Licht.
Lob sei Gott, dem Vater, g'ton,
lob sei Gott, sein'm eingen Sohn,
lob sei Gott, dem Heilgen Geist,
immer und in Ewigkeit!
Come now, Saviour of the gentiles,
recognised as the Virgin’s child,
all the world stands amazed
that God ordained Him such a birth.
Marvel, O men,
at this great mystery:
the greatest Ruler appears
to the world.
The treasures of heaven
are revealed here,
divine manna is ordained for us here,
Chasteness is quite unblemished.
From God’s great majesty and throne,
His only-begotten Son goes forth.
The hero from Judah appears,
to run His course with gladness
and to redeem us fallen ones.
O bright gleam!
O wondrous sign of grace!
Fight, conquer, mighty hero!
Be strong for us in the flesh!
Strive to strengthen
in us feeble ones!
We honour this glory
and now draw near Thy cradle
and praise with voices of gladness
what Thou hast brought us;
darkness did not trouble us,
and we saw Thy undying light.
Praise be to God, the Father,
praise be to God, His only Son,
praise be to God, the Holy Ghost,
always and eternally!