Christum wir sollen loben schon

Christum wir sollen loben schon

BWV 121/1 performed by Viola Blache
Philharmonie, Haarlem

Behind the music


A singing milkmaid?

The words give the painting a sort of biblical perspective

Bewitched by Bach, Vermeer’s Milkmaid steps out of her frame after an age-long lockdown. Slowly, she awakens on her stool and as she pours the milk she is accompanied by a chorale from Bach’s cantata 121. It seems almost as though she’s singing to herself. The chorale text refers loosely to the painting: Sich in die keusche Mutter goß; Ein Mägdlein trug ein heimlich Pfand”…."Es ward ein' kleine Milch sein’ Speis” "Christ, gebor'n von der reinen Magd". The painting thus acquires a sort of biblical perspective.

In this recording, the soprano Viola Blache sings a hymn that was known as Christum wir sollen loben schon in Bach’s day. Bach incorporated it into the first and last movement of his cantata of the same name, BWV 121. At the time, the music and the words were already more than a thousand years old. Bach based his work on a hymn by Martin Luther from 1524, which in turn was based on the Latin hymn A solis ortus cardine, by Caelius Sedulius, from ca 450. For this recording, in consultation with Shunske Sato, Viola Blache made a personal version, based on Bach, Luther and the original hymn.

For this project, we collaborated with Club Classique and cinematographer Gijs Besseling. They created a performance about various paintings, accompanied by live music. One of these tableaux vivants was selected and then developed to correspond to this Bach chorale.

Christum wir sollen loben schon
Martin Luther, 1524 (based on the christmas hymn A solis ortus cardine)
the second day of Christmas
First performance
26 December 1724

Extra videos

Vocal texts


Christum wir sollen loben schon,
der reinen Magd Marien Sohn,
soweit die liebe Sonne leucht't
und an aller Welt Ende reicht.

Die göttlich' Gnad' vom Himmel groß
sich in die keusche Mutter goß;  
Ein Mägdlein trug ein heimlich Pfand, 
das der Natur war unbekannt.   

Die edle Mutter hat geborn'n
den Gabriel verhieß zuvorn,   
den Sankt Johann's mit Springen zeigt',
da er noch lag im Mutterleib. 

Er lag im Heu mit Armut groß,  
die Krippe hart ihn nicht verdroß;  
es ward ein' kleine Milch sein' Speiß, 
der nie kein Vöglein hungern ließ.   

Lob, Ehr' und Dank sei dir gesagt,  
Christ, gebor'n von der reinen Magd,
mit Vater und dem Heil'gen Geist, 
von nun an bis in Ewigkeit!                                                                   


O Christ, to you all praise be done,
o you the Virgin Mary's son,
as wide as sunlight is unfurled
and to all the ends of the world.

A godly gush of heavenly grace
into the mother chaste was placed;
Divine the pledge, the maiden’s own,
that in all Nature was unknown.

A noble mother birthed as well
as was promised by Gabriel,
Saint John leaped up for joy that day,
when in his mother’s womb he lay.

In utter poverty he lay,
accepting manger lined with hay,
on just a little milk he feeds,
who saw to every creature’s needs.

All praise and honor to you, Lord, Christ,
for your coming into this world,
with Father, Spirit——Trinity,
from now and to Eternity!

translation © Ruth van Baak Griffioen


  • Release date
    22 December 2022
  • Recording date (music production)
    4 June 2021
  • Recording date (video production)
    1 October 2020
  • Location (music production)
    Philharmonie, Haarlem
  • Location (video production)
    De Hallen Studios, Amsterdam
  • Soprano
    Viola Blache
  • Milkmaid
    Irina Djojoatmodjo
  • Director, camera (music production)
    Robin van Erven Dorens
  • Music recording (music production)
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix (music production)
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera (music production)
    Marcel Prins
  • Lights (music production)
    Ernst-Jan Thieme
  • Best boy (music production)
    Jordi Kooij
  • Data handling (music production)
    Stefan Ebels
  • Assistant music recording (music production)
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer (music production)
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • Director, camera, decor, lights (video production)
    Gijs Besseling
  • Make-up and costume (video production)
    Victoria Osborn
  • In collaboration with (video production)
    Club Classique: Leonard Besseling, Dionne Pierik en Myrthe Helder

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