Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.

Many readers of this weblog celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation today or tomorrow - yes, Latins, many Christians do observe the feast on its proper date even when it falls on a Sunday - so here is some music for the occasion: Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1, composed for and first performed on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1725. In the recording featured here, Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads Concentus Musicus Wien and the combined forces of the Wiener Sängerknaben and Chorus Viennensis, with Kurt Equiluz (tenor), Max von Egmond (bass) and an unnamed treble from the Sängerknaben as soloists.

Here are the words of the opening chorale, in German and in an English translation taken from Richard Jones' English edition of Alfred Dürr's definitive handbook, The Cantatas of J. S. Bach. (If you want more, the great and mighty Bach Cantatas Website also offers the full text of the cantata with a line-by-line English translation.)

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Voll Gnad und Wahrheit von dem Herrn,
Die süße Wurzel Jesse!
Du Sohn Davids aus Jakobs Stamm,
Mein König und mein Bräutigam,
Hast mir mein Herz besessen,
Lieblich, freundlich, schön und herrlich,
groß und ehrlich, reich von Gaben,
hoch und sehr prächtig erhaben.


How lovely shines the Morning Star,
Full of grace and truth from the Lord,
The sweet root of Jesse!
You Son of David from Jacob's stock,
My King and my Bridegroom,
You have taken possession of my heart;
Lovely, kindly, fair and glorious,
great and honorable, rich in gifts,
Highly and most splendidly exalted.

My prayers are with all readers celebrating this bright feast - today, tomorrow, or, if you follow the Old Calendar, on April 7. If you'd like some further reflections from me on the feast we celebrate, take a look at this old post offering three views of the Annunciation. AMDG.


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