Uns ist ein Kind geboren, BWV 142

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Uns ist ein Kind geboren (Unto us a child is born), BWV 142, is a Christmas cantata formerly attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. The text is based on a libretto by Erdmann Neumeister first published in 1711.[1] Since the cantata was first published by the Bach-Gesellschaft in the nineteenth century, Bach scholars, including Johannes Schreyer, Arnold Schering and Alfred Dürr, have not accepted this attribution, although the identity of the original composer has not been established.[2][3] In the late twentieth century it was withdrawn from the Neue Bach Ausgabe, replaced by a detailed historical commentary on authenticity and attribution by Andreas Glöckner.[4] Because of uncertainty of attribution, it remains in Anhang II of the BWV.[5] It is now considered plausible that Johann Kuhnau, Bach's predecessor as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, may have composed the cantata, as originally suggested by Schering (1912).[6]


The biblical text, chorale and free verse come from the 1711 collection of librettos of the writer, theologian, pastor and theorist, Erdmann Neumeister. Parts of Neumeister's text were significantly modified in the cantata; these alterations are discussed in detail in Glöckner (2000). A cantata with this title is listed as having been performed in both of the main churches in Leipzig—the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche–on Christmas Day 1720, during the period when Johann Kuhnau was Thomaskantor. It has not been determined whether that cantata is the same as the earliest surviving manuscript copy of BWV 142 made by Christian Friedrich Penzel in Leipzig in May 1756.[7][8][9][10] In 1939, Sydney Biden provided the English translation for the cantata For unto us a child is born.[11]


First page of closing chorale of Uns ist ein Kind geboren in manuscript copy made by Christian Friedrich Penzel in 1756

The cantata is scored for three vocal soloists (alto, tenor and bass), a four-part choir, two alto recorders, two oboes, two violins, viola and continuo.[12]

The piece has eight movements:[13][14]

  1. Sinfonia, an instrumental concerto for two alto recorders, two oboes and strings.
  2. Chorus: Uns ist ein Kind geboren (For Unto Us a Child is Born), a double fugue with the first theme set to the text "Uns ist ein Kind geboren" and the second set to "Eins Sohn ist uns gegeben".
  3. Aria (bass): Dein Geburtstag ist erschienen (So Appears Thy Natal Day)
  4. Chorus: Ich will den Namen Gottes loben (I Will Praise The Name Of God). This short choral movement begins with a fugato section in which the four vocal parts are accompanied by the first and second violins. After the fugal entries, the music is homophonic.
  5. Aria (tenor): Jesu, dir sei Dank (Lord, My Thanks to Thee). In this relatively short da capo aria, the tenor is accompanied by two obbligato oboes.
  6. Recitative (alto): Immanuel (Emmanuel!)
  7. Aria (alto): Jesu, dir sei Preis (Praise Be To Thee, Jesus!). Set to new words, this aria is a transposition of the 5th movement from A minor to D minor, with the alto replacing the tenor and the two alto recorders replacing the oboes.
  8. Chorus: Alleluia (Alleluia). Over an almost uninterrupted stream of semiquaver figures played in unison by alto recorders, oboes and violins, the choir sings the final four-part chorale line by line.


  • Alsfelder Vokalensemble / I Febiarmionici, Wolfgang Helbich. The Apocryphal Bach Cantatas II. CPO, 2001.
  • Choir and Orchestra "Pro Arte" Munich, Kurt Redel. J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D Major & Cantata BWV 142. Philips, 1964.
  • Mannheim Bach Choir / Heidelberger Kammerorchester, Heinz Markus Göttsche. J.S. Bach: Cantatas BWV 62 & BWV 142. Da Camera, 1966.
  • Capella Brugensis / Collegium instrumentale Brugense, Patrick Peire. 'Uns ist ein Kind geboren', Eufoda, 1972


  1. ^ Glöckner 2000, p. 117
  2. ^ See:
    • Dürr, Alfred (2006), "Appendix: doubtful and spurious cantatas", The cantatas of J. S. Bach, translated by Richard Douglas P. Jones, Oxford University Press, p. 926, ISBN 0-19-929776-2 
    • Dürr, Alfred (1977), Studien über die frühen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs (in German) (2nd ed.), Breitkopf & Härtel, pp. 57–58, 209–211, ISBN 3765101303 
    • Schering, Arnold (1912), "Beiträge zur Bachkritik", Bach-Jahrbuch (in German), 9: 124–133 , page 133
  3. ^ "Uns ist ein Kind geboren". Bach Digital (in German). Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Glöckner, Andreas (2000), Johann Sebastian Bach, Varia: Kantaten, Quodlibet, Einzelsätze, Bearbeitungen. Critical commentary, Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke (NBA), I/41, Bärenreiter, pp. 117–118 
  5. ^ Classical Net Uns ist ein Kind geboren (Unto us a child is born), Classical Net, 1998
  6. ^ Erler, David (2015). "Johann Kuhnau" (PDF). Abendmusiken in der Predigerkirche. pp. 8–9. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Dürr 1977, p. 57
  8. ^ Glöckner 2000, p. 117–118
  9. ^ Palisca, Claude V. (1991), Baroque Music (3rd ed.), Prentice-Hall, p. 321 
  10. ^ Küster, Konrad (1999), "Erdmann Neumeister", in Malcolm Boyd, Bach, Oxford Composer Companion, Oxford University Press, pp. 314–315 
  11. ^ "Bach Bibliography". 
  12. ^ "Cantata BWV 142 Uns ist ein Kind Geoboren". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  13. ^ Zedler, Günther (2009), Die erhaltenen Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs (Spätere Sakrale- und Weltliche Werke): Besprechungen in Form von Analysen - Erklärungen - Deutungen (in German), Perfect Paperback, pp. 297–298, ISBN 383913773X 
  14. ^ Whittaker, William Gillies (1959), The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: sacred and secular, Volume I, Oxford University Press, pp. 160–161 

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