Christus (Mendelssohn)

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Unfinished oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn Bartholdy.jpg
The composer in 1829
Catalogue Op. 97
Libretto Christian Karl Josias von Bunsen
Language German
Based on life of St. Paul in biblical narration
Performed 1852 (1852): Düsseldorf
Movements 45

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.[1] 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 Philipp Nicolai's chorale "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern", and a passion section ending with another chorale, Paul Gerhardt's "O Welt, sieh hier dein Leben". The first performance took place in 1852.

Jeffrey S. Sposato's 2006 The Price of Assimilation: Felix Mendelssohn and the Nineteenth-Century Anti-Semitic Tradition discusses both Christus and Mendelssohn's cuts in the Matthäuspassion and discerns an agenda to promote "the Lutheran concept of universal guilt for Christ's death" over the prevailing antisemitism of the time.[2]


  1. ^ Todd, R. Larry. Mendelssohn: a Life in Music (2003) pp. 554-6
  2. ^ Sposato, Jeffrey S.,[1], The Price of Assimilation, November 2005 , pp. 163-177(15), Oxford Scholarship Online Monographs (abstract)

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