Posts tagged ‘Franz Tunder’

February 2, 2014

2014-02-02 Notes from the Bench

“Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” by Philipp Nicolai

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate

The German Lutheran chorale “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (translated as, “How bright appears the Morning Star” in The Hymnal 1982, #497) is today’s closing hymn and the basis for the chorale fantasia setting composed by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707), today’s prelude selection. This chorale is considered by many to be one of the all-time great German chorales, along with “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” (“Awake, a voice calls to us”). The text and music were written by Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), a Lutheran pastor in Unna, Westphalia, a region in Western Germany. Following a regional pestilence in 1597, Nicolai contemplated the doctrines of Eternal Life through the Blood of Christ and wrote the original German text as part of a series of daily meditations which were published in 1599, in a book entitled, Frewdenspiegel dess ewigen Lebens (Mirror of the Joy of the Life Everlasting). The text of the hymn was inspired by Psalm 45 and Revelation 22:11. Since its publication, numerous composers through the Baroque, Romantic and Modern eras have based vocal and instrumental works on “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.”

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