Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Words and tune
The words in seven stanzas are based on Psalm 45, a mystical wedding song. Jesus is identified with the morning star, according to Revelation 22:16, and with the bridegroom of the psalm. Nicolai wrote the words in response to a pestilence in 1597. He published the chorale first in 1599 in his book FrewdenSpiegel deß ewigen Lebens (The Joyous Mirror of Eternal Life) in Frankfurt, together with Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. He introduced it: "Ein Geistlich Brautlied der Gläubigen Seelen / von Jesu Christo irem himlischen Bräutgam: Gestellt ober den 45. Psalm deß Propheten Dauids", translated: "A spiritual bridal song of the believing soul / concerning Jesus Christ, her heavenly Bridegroom, founded on the 45th Psalm of the prophet David".
The chorale appeared as a hymn in German hymnals and in several translations in English hymnals, starting with How bright appears the Morning Star! by John Christian Jacobi (1670–1750), in his Psalmodica Germanica, 1722, p. 90. Additional hymns were written on the same tune such as O heilger Geist, kehr bei uns ein of Michael Schirmer (1640).
The words, speaking of "süße musica" (sweet music) in verse 6, and the melody have inspired composers to vocal and instrumental settings.
Johann Sebastian Bach based his chorale cantata Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1 on it and used single verses for other cantatas, verse 4 to close Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172, verse 5 in Wer da gläubet und getauft wird, BWV 37, verse 6 in Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV 36, verse 7 to close Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen, BWV 49. The final lines of verse 7 form the closing chorale of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61.
Peter Cornelius composed "The Three Kings," an Epiphany anthem for solo voice and chorus in which the soloist sings "Three Kings had journey'd from lands afar..." to an entirely new tune by Cornelius over the choir, which performs the chorale tune Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern underneath. A version of "The Three Kings" is included in the first volume of the popular Willcocks and Jacques compilation Carols for Choirs.
Christus is the title given by the composer's brother Paul to fragments of an unfinished oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn, published posthumously as Op. 97. The work was suggested by Christian Karl Josias von Bunsen, who compiled the German libretto from biblical sources. Composition began in 1846 and continued through Mendelssohn's last year. The completed portions include a tenor recitative relating Christ's birth, a TBB chorus "Where is the newborn", the well known SATB chorus "There Shall a Star from Jacob Shine Forth" using the chorale Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, and a passion section ending with another chorale, O Welt, sieh' hier dein Leben. The first performance took place in 1852.
Bach wrote several organ preludes on the chorale. So did Pachelbel in his Erster Theil etlicher Choräle. Bach's student Johann Ludwig Krebs wrote a prelude for organ on the chorale tune. Dieterich Buxtehude also wrote a chorale fantasia Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.
In 1899 Max Reger composed an organ fantasy on Wie schön leucht’t uns der Morgenstern, Op. 40, 1. Ernst Pepping wrote in 1933 a partita, Partita über den Choral "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern".
Hugo Distler composed a prelude for organ entitled Vorspiel und Satz "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern", his Op. 8, no. 3. In 1974 Gloria Coates composed Phantasie über "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" for amplified viola and organ. Rolf Schweitzer wrote in 1983 a meditative work for organ, Orgelmeditation "Morgenstern". Naji Hakim composed in 2008 Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, variations for oboe (flute, violin) and organ.
|German Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- ""Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern", text and translation". bach-cantatas.com. 2005. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- Julian, John (1907). "Nicolai, Philipp, 1556–1608". hymnary.org. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- Fischer, Michael (2006). "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (in German). Freiburger Anthologie Lied und Lyrik. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- C. Sanford Terry: "A Note on the Tune, 'Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern'", The Musical Times, Vol. 58, No. 893 (1 July 1917), pp. 302–303.
- Todd, R. Larry. Mendelssohn: a Life in Music (2003) pp. 554-6
- "Partita über den Choral "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern"" (in German). Ernst Pepping Gesellschaft. 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern". Schott Music. Retrieved 28 July 2010.