BWV 121 Christum wir sollen loben schon

Second Day of Christmas (St. Stephen).

Poet unknown.

1. Martin Luther, verse 1 of the translation of "A solis ortus cardine" (Coelius Sedulius, 5th c.), 1524 (Wackernagel, III, #17ff.); 2-5. based freely on verses 2-7; 6. 8th and final verse of the hymn.

26 December 1724, Leipzig.

BG 26; NBA I/3.


1. Chorus [Verse 1] (S, A, T, B)

To Christ we should sing praises now,
The spotless maid Maria's Son,
As far as our dear sun gives light
And out to all the world doth reach.

2. Aria (T)

O thou whom God created and extolled,
With reason not, no, no, with wonder see:
God would through flesh the flesh's health accomplish.

    Though great is he, the maker of all nature,
    And though thou art despiséd and unworthy,
    That thou by this be rescued from corruption.

3. Recit. (T)

The nature of unbounded favor
Hath chosen heaven not
To be its only dwelling,
For it no limits can contain.
Why wonder that in this all sense and reason fail
So great a mystery to fathom,
When grace into a virgin heart is poured?
God chooseth him this body pure to make a temple for his honor,
That to mankind he might in awe-inspiring form be present.

4. Aria (B)

Then John's own glad and joyful leaping
Acknowledged thee, my Jesus, first.(1)

    Now while an arm of faith holds thee,
    So would my heart escape this world
    And to thy cradle press with fervor.

5. Recit. (S)

But how doth it regard thee in thy cradle?
My heart doth sigh: with trembling and almost unopened lips now
It brings its grateful sacrifice.
God, who all limits did transcend,
Bore servile form and poverty.
And since he did this for our benefit,
Thus raise now(2) with the choirs of angels
Triumphant sounds of thankful singing!

6. Chorus [Verse 8] (S, A, T, B)

Laud, praise, and thanks to thee be giv'n,
Christ, now born of the spotless maid,
With Father and the Holy Ghost
From now until eternity.


1. Cf. Lk. 1:44.

2. OP and BG have laß ich. Translate "I'll raise."


© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose


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