Bach's Christmas Carol (Johann Sebastian Bach)

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  • (Posted 2006-12-26)  CPDL #13294:  Icon_pdf_globe.gif (pdf 0.9Mb) Icon_mp3_globe.gif (MP3 1.9Mb) Icon_snd_globe.gif (MIDIfile 11Kb)
Editor: Nigel Poole (submitted 2006-12-26).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 986 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: adapted from the Gavotte in Orchestral Suite 4, the key has been lowered from D to G and notes redistributed to suit voices, and an introduction added (borrowed from 8 bars before the end), otherwise Bach's music remains intact. The MP3 is a live performance by the Calgary Boys Choir of Canada.

General Information

Title: Bach's Christmas Carol
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Arranger: Nigel Poole
Lyricist: Charles Wesley

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredCarol

Language: English
Instruments: Piano

First published: 1885 in Bach-Gesellschaft Ausgabe, Band 31.1
    2nd published: 2006
Opus: BWV 1069 , mvt. 3
Description: After noticing melodic and harmonic similarities between the Gavotte from J. S. Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D and Mendelssohn's popular carol, Hark! the herald angels sing, I became convinced Mendelssohn must have adapted Bach's music for this carol. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to create an 'original Bach version' of Hark! the herald by setting the words of the carol to the music of Bach's Gavotte, in an arrangement for choir and keyboard. Bach's Christmas Carol is the result. - Nigel Poole, Canberra, Australia, 2006.

See also: The popular and anthologised version by Mendelssohn, adapted by William H. Cummings

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.

Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give them second birth.

Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"