Annunciation

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Annunciation

Today is the holy feast of Annunciation, nine months before Christmas. It was the only day during Lent on which there was no Tempus Clausum in Leipzig, so music was permitted in Church. I am convinced that that must have been a relief for Bach.

Two beautiful cantatas for this day. Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV 182, was the first cantata Bach created after he got the promotion from organist to court composer at the Weimar court. That year, 1714, Annunciation and Palm Sunday fell on the same day, which is why the libretto is referring to the entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. This cantata was performed again on the first Annunciation Bach celebrated in Leipzig, on 25 March 1724.

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1, has this special BWV number only by pure coincidence that this was the first of about ten cantatas the Bach Gesellschaft chose to publish in 1851. It is part of the choral cantata cycle, with a hymn by Philipp Nicolai (1556–1608), and because again Palm Sunday coincided with Annunciation, the libretto hints to both occasions. But it is also the last cantata Bach composed in the choral cantata cycle, possibly because his librettist passed away.

Cantatas

  • Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV 182
    (first performance 25 March 1714, Weimar period)
  • Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1
    (first performance 25 March 1725, Leipzig period)