Das neugeborne Kindelein, BWV 122
Das neugeborne Kindelein (The new-born infant child), BWV 122, is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach composed the chorale cantata in six movements in Leipzig for the Sunday after Christmas and first performed it on 31 December 1724.
History and text
Bach composed the cantata in his second year as Thomaskantor in Leipzig for the Sunday after Christmas. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the Epistle to the Galatians, "through Christ we are free from the law" (Galatians 4:1–7), and from the Gospel of Luke, Simeon and Anna talking to Mary (Luke 2:33–40). The chorale cantata is based on a hymn by Cyriakus Schneegaß (1597) with the same title as the cantata. The librettist is unknown.
Bach first performed the cantata on 31 December 1724.
Scoring and structure
The cantata has six movements:
- Chorale: Das neugeborne Kindelein
- Aria (bass): O Menschen, die ihr täglich sündigt
- Recitative (soprano): Die Engel, welche sich zuvor
- Aria (soprano, alto, tenor): Ist Gott versöhnt und unser Freund
- Recitative (bass): Dies ist ein Tag, den selbst der Herr gemacht
- Chorale: Es bringt das rechte Jubeljahr
The opening chorus is a chorale fantasia with a long opening and closing ritornello bookending a chorale theme with four entries and lengthy interspersed episodes. The three lower voices imitate the soprano thrice in the chorale phrases and then move into a fast ascending figure.
The second movement is a lengthy and chromatic bass aria discussing sündigt (sinning). This is the longest movement of the cantata. The continuo accompanying the vocal line is "tortuous and chromatically convoluted".
The soprano recitative is accompanied by a simple recorder trio, a combination designed to represent the "aura of the angels". As this is the only movement to include the recorders, the parts were likely performed by the oboe and taille players.
The fourth movement is a trio of the soprano, alto and tenor voices; the alto sings the chorale line with the strings while the soprano and tenor perform a duet aria. The movement is in D minor and 6/8 time.
The "rather muted" music of the first chorus and the bass aria (the opening line of which translates as "O mortals, ye who sin daily") have been described by one writer as giving listeners a "moral hangover" after the possible overindulgence of the Christmas holidays.
- Collegium Vocale Gent. J.S. Bach: Cantates de Nöel. Harmonia Mundi France, 1995.
- Frankfurter Kantorei / Bach-Collegium Stuttgart. Die Bach Kantate. Hänssler, 1972.
- Wiener Kammerchor / Vienna State Opera Orchestra. J.S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 122 and BWV 133. Vanguard Bach Guild, 1952.
- "Das neugeborne Kindelein Text and Translation of Chorale". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Crouch, Simon (1996). "Cantata 122". Classical Net. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- "BWV 122". University of Alberta. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Mincham, Julian. "Chapter 31 BWV 122". jsbachcantatas. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Smith, Craig. "BWV 122". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Cantatas, BWV 121–130: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Das neugeborne Kindelein: history, scoring, Bach website (German)
- BWV 122 Das neugeborne Kindelein: English translation, University of Vermont