BWV 63 Christen, ätzet diesen Tag

Christmas Day.

Possibly Johann Michael Heineccius (see Dürr, p. 108); PT (Halle, 1717); Facs: Neumann T, p. 303.

Between 1713 and 1716, Halle; again 25 December 1723, Leipzig. BG 16; NBA I/2.

1. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

Christians, etch ye now this day
Both in bronze and stones of marble!

    Come, quick, join me at the manger
    And display with lips of gladness
    All your thanks and all you owe;
    For the light which here breaks forth
    Shows to you a sign of blessing.

2. Recit. (A)

O blessed day! O day exceeding rare, this,
On which the world's true help,
The Shiloh(1), whom God did in Paradise(2)
To mankind's race already pledged,
From this time forth was perfectly revealed
And seeketh Israel now from the prison and the chains of slav'ry
Of Satan to deliver.
Thou dearest God, what are we wretches then?
A people fallen low which thee forsaketh;
And even still thou wouldst not hate us;
For ere we should according to our merits lie in ruin,
Ere that, must deity be willing,
The nature of mankind himself assuming,
Upon earth dwelling,
In shepherd's stall to be a child incarnate.
O inconceivable, yet blessed dispensation!

3. Aria (S, B)

God, thou hast all well accomplished
Which to us now comes to pass.

    Let us then forever trust him
    And rely upon his favor,
    For he hath on us bestowed
    What shall ever be our pleasure.

4. Recit. (T)

Transformed be now today
The anxious pain
By which hath Israel been frightened and sore laden
To perfect health and blessing.
Of David's branch the lion now appeareth,
His bow already bent, his sword already honed,
With which he us to former freedom brings.

5. Aria (A, T)

Call and unto heaven cry,
Come, ye Christians, come in order,
Ye should be in this rejoicing
Which God hath today achieved!

    For us now his grace provideth
    And with such salvation sealeth,
    More than we could thank him for.

6. Recit. (B)

Redouble then your strength, ye ardent flames of worship,
And come in humble fervor all together!
Rise gladly heavenward
And thank your God for all this he hath done!

7. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

Highest, look with grace upon
This the warmth of souls here bending!

    Let the thanks we bring before thee
    To thine ears resound with pleasure.
    Let us e'er in blessing walk,
    But yet / Let it / never come to pass
    That us Satan seek to torment.

1. Cf. Gen. 49:10. Luther translates Shiloh with Held 'hero.' English versions include champion and strong man. Cf. BWV 62/3.

2. "Paradise" (Persian for 'garden') is the Garden of Eden.

© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose

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