We've been talking about Bach since there very beginning. He was a German composer who lived from 1685 to 1750, and is my favorite composer of all time.
In 1734, he completed the Christmas Oratorio (or Weihnachts-Oratorium, in German). This was to be performed at the St. Thomas and St. Nicholas churches in Leipzig to celebrate the 1734 Christmas season.
The Christmas Oratorio (pronounced or-ah-TOR-ee-o) is a collection of shorter pieces. The complete piece is in six parts and takes about three hours to perform. Each part celebrates a different part of the Christmas story. Part One describes the birth of Christ. Part Two is about the angellic announcement to the shepherds (the "annunciation" to the shepherds). Part Three is about the shepherds coming to see Jesus (the "adoration" of the shepherds). Part Four is about the circumcision and naming of Jesus (New Year's Day). Part Five is about the journey of the wisemen (journey of the Magi). Part Six is about the wisemen visiting and worshipping Jesus (the "adoration" of the Magi). We're just going to be covering the first piece of Part One today.
The Christmas Oratorio is called a parody work, because some of the music had been written previously (but with different lyrics). For example, "Jauchzet, frohlocket!" (pronounced YOWX-set froh-LAW-ket) uses music that was originally a cantata Bach wrote the previous year called "Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!" ("Sound all the drums! Resound the trumpets!"). It was written to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of Poland, Maria Josepha. This same music was given new lyrics and used as part of the Oratorio.
"Jauchzet, frohlocket!" is a piece to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. These are the lyrics that are sung (and their translation):
Jauchzet, frohlocket! auf, preiset die Tage,
Shout for joy, exult, rise up, glorify the day,
My introduction to this piece was pretty late in life. I was aware that Bach had written a Christmas Oratorio, but I wasn't that familiar with it. I'm going to guess that sometime in the early to mid 1990s, I had come across a recording of the Christmas Oratorio. "Jauchzet, frohlocket!" is one that can quickly get stuck in your head.
To date, I've never performed it, but I'd love to.
So here is "Jauchzet, frohlocket!" from the Christmas Oratorio. Merry Christmas!