Christen, ätzet diesen Tag

Christen, ätzet diesen Tag

BWV 63 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Marcus Creed
Grote Kerk, Naarden

  • Menu
  • 1. Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (Chor)
  • 2. O selger Tag! (Rezitativ)
  • 3. Gott, du hast (Duett)
  • 4. So kehret sich (Rezitativ)
  • 5. Ruft und fleht (Duett)
  • 6. Verdoppelt euch (Rezitativ)
  • 7. Hochster, schau (Chor)

Behind the music

Story
Story
Extra videos
Extra videos
Texts
Texts
Credits
Credits

Song of praise to the birth of Christ

Bach pulls out all the stops in this festive cantata for a large cast of musicians.

Bach’s large-scale cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63, includes four trumpets, three oboes and timpani. It was performed on Christmas Day 1723, in Leipzig, where Bach had been working for less than six months. So it was his first Christmas there. The cantata he performed was not new, but one he had brought with him from Weimar, where Bach had performed it around 1714/1715 for Advent.

Christen, ätzet diesen Tag exudes strength and confidence right from the festive opening, with trumpets heralding the mercy of the coming of Jesus, and rapid entrances that imitate one another, as if the choir and orchestra cannot wait for the big event.

The word ‘Gnade’ (clemency, mercy) is central to the whole piece. It appears four times: in the opening chorus, in the first aria (which is actually a duet, like the second aria), in the second recitative and in the final chorus. That second recitative (So kehret sich nun heut) forms the heart of the cantata, as it is the precise centre of the symmetrically constructed seven-part work. Through metaphorical references to the Old Testament, the tenor expresses the key messages here: redemption and deliverance from death, fear and sin. With the return of the trumpets in the final chorus, Bach’s song of praise to the fulfilled promise of the long-awaited birth of Christ is rounded off in style.

BWV
63
Title
Christen, ätzet diesen Tag
Genre
cantatas
Year
before 1716
City
Weimar
Lyricist
unknown, perhaps Johann Michael Heineccius
Occasion
Boxing Day
First performance
in Weimar, re-performance in Leipzig on 25 December 1723

Extra videos

Trumpet maker Mark Geelen

“Trumpet maker and player Mark Geelen explains the differences between the modern and natural trumpet.”

Vocal texs

Original

1. Chor
Christen, ätzet diesen Tag
in Metall und Marmorsteine!
Kommt und eilt mit mir zur Krippen
und erweist mit frohen Lippen
euren Dank und eure Pflicht;
denn der Strahl, so da einbricht,
zeigt sich euch zum Gnadenscheine.

2. Rezitativ (Alt)
O selger Tag! o ungemeines Heute,
an dem das Heil der Welt,
der Schilo, den Gott schon im Paradies
dem menschlichen Geschlecht verhieß,
nunmehro sich vollkommen dargestellt
und suchet Israel von der Gefangenschaft
und Sklavenketten
des Satans zu erretten.
Du liebster Gott,
was sind wir Arme doch?
Ein abgefallnes Volk, so dich verlassen;
und dennoch willst du uns nicht hassen;
denn eh wir sollen noch
nach dem Verdienst zu Boden liegen,
eh muß die Gottheit sich bequemen,
die menschliche Natur an sich zu
nehmen und auf der Erden
im Hirtenstall zu einem Kinde werden.
O unbegreifliches, doch seliges Verfügen!

3. Duett (Sopran, Bass)
Gott, du hast es wohl gefüget,
was uns itzo widerfährt.
Drum laßt uns auf ihn stets trauen
und auf seine Gnade bauen,
denn er hat uns dies beschert,
was uns ewig nun vergnüget.

4. Rezitativ (Tenor)
So kehret sich nun heut
das bange Leid,
mit welchem Israel geangstet
und beladen,
in lauter Heil und Gnaden.
Der Low aus Davids Stamme ist
erschienen,
sein Bogen ist gespannt,
das Schwert ist schon gewetzt,
womit er uns in vor’ge Freiheit setzt.

5. Duett (Alt, tenor)
Ruft und fleht den Himmel an,
kommt, ihr Christen, kommt
zum Reihen,
ihr sollt euch ob dem erfreuen,
was Gott hat anheut getan!
Da uns seine Huld verpfleget
und mit so viel Heil beleget,
das man nicht g’nug danken kann.

6. Rezitativ (Bass)
Verdoppelt euch demnach,
ihr heisen Andachtsflammen,
und schlagt in Demut brunstiglich
zusammen!
Steigt frohlich himmelan,
und danket Gott vor dies, was er getan!

7. Chor
Hochster, schau in Gnaden an
Diese Glut gebuckter Seelen!
Las den Dank, den wir dir bringen,
angenehme vor dir klingen,
las uns stets in Segen gehn,
aber niemals nicht geschehn,
das uns Satan moge qualen.

Translation

1. Chorus
Christians, etch this day
in metal and marble!
Come and hasten with me to the manger
and show with joyous song
your gratitude and duty;
for the dawning radiance reveals itself
to you as the light of grace.

2. Recitative
O blessed day! O wondrous day
on which the Saviour of the world,
the Shiloh promised by God in paradise
to the human race,
reveals himself completely
and seeks to save Israel
from being imprisoned and fettered
by Satan’s slavish chains.
O most loving God!
What are we, poor creatures?
A fallen race that has forsaken Thee.
And even then Thou dost not hate us;
for rather than let us, as we deserve,
writhe on the ground,
the Godhead itself deigns
to take on human shape,
and on earth
be born in a stable.
O incomprehensible, yet blessed dispensation!

3. Duet
God, Thou hast well ordained
what for us now comes to pass.
Let us then ever trust in Him
and build upon His grace;
for He has bestowed on us this gift,
which causes us eternal joy.

4. Recitative
And so today,
the anguish and the pain
which beset
and troubled Israel,
gives way to pure salvation and mercy.
The lion from David’s line
has appeared,
His bow is drawn tight,
His sword sharpened,
with these He shall bring us our former freedom.

5. Duet
Call and implore heaven,
come, ye Christians,
come to the dance,
you should rejoice
at God’s deeds today!
For He has accorded us such grace,
bestowed on us such salvation,
more than we can thank him for.

6. Recitative
May then your ardent flames of devotion
be redoubled,
fall to your knees fervently
in homage!
Rise joyously up to Heaven
and thank God for what He has done!

7. Chorus
Almighty God, gaze graciously on
the fervour of these humble souls!
May the thanks that we offer
be pleasing unto Thee;
may we ever walk in grace,
let it never come to pass
that Satan should torment us.

Credits

  • Release date
    26 December 2019
  • Recording date
    13 December 2018
  • Location
    Grote Kerk, Naarden
  • Conductor
    Marcus Creed
  • Soprano
    Griet De Geyter
  • Alto
    Alex Potter
  • Tenor
    Guy Cutting
  • Bass
    Matthias Winckhler
  • Ripieno soprano
    Hilde Van Ruymbeke, Lauren Armishaw
  • Ripieno alto
    Carla Nahadi Babelegoto, Barnabás Hegyi
  • Ripieno tenor
    Immo Schröder, Hitoshi Tamada
  • Ripieno bass
    Matthew Baker, Joep van Geffen
  • Violin 1
    Shunske Sato, Annelies van der Vegt, Sayuri Yamagata
  • Violin 2
    Anneke van Haaften, Paulien Kostense, Pieter Affourtit
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra, Deirdre Dowling
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts, Anne-Linde Visser
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Oboe
    Emma Black, Rodrigo Lopez Paz, Esther van der Ploeg
  • Bassoon
    Benny Aghassi
  • Trumpet
    Robert Vanryne, Fruzsina Hara, Mark Geelen, Nicholas Emmerson
  • Timpani
    Robert Kendell
  • Organ
    Siebe Henstra
  • Director and editor
    Bas Wielenga
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Camera
    Jochem Timmerman, Martin Struijf, Wesley Schipper, Bjorn Tiebout
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Patrick Galvin
  • Assistant director
    Marieke Donker Kaat
  • Set technique
    Justin Mutsaers
  • Data handling
    Jesper Blok
  • Project manager team
    Ron Vermeulen
  • Producer concert
    Imke Deters
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh
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