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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

The Gala is over, and I think it was somewhat successful, although I must say that the general consensus I have heard is that the drama aspects were very strange indeed (an opinion with which I concur).

I played a gig today in Boston, along with Kate and Melissa and a variety of other musically inclined folk. It was enjoyable, and the money in my bank account will be even more enjoyable.

The Advent hymn I've picked for today is one that we sang in church choir last week for the first Sunday of Advent: Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light. The words were written by Johann Rist in 1641. The music to this hymn was written by Johann Schop and harmonized by J. S. Bach in 1734 for his Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. The words that Bach employed in his oratorio are taken from stanza 7 of "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist" by Rist. In more recent years, a variety of subsequent verses have been written; however, most hymnals continue to use Rist's original text along with Bach's harmonization of Schop's music.

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with afright,
But hear the angel's warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

Words: Johann Rist (1607-1667)

Music: Johann Schop (c. 1590-1664)

Harmonization: J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Recording Sarah recommends: Bach: Christmas Oratorio (Arias and Choruses); The English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. (No. 12, Chorale: Brich an, O Schones Morgenlicht.) For those of you who are interested, this chorale is available on iTunes individually if you want to hear it without purchasing the whole CD!

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