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orange and red paint

The Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach

Colin Fields

  • Carolee Uits

    Glorious! I will be taking this back to Tanzania to share with others trained in Europe who minister now near Lake Victoria with God's treasures - the humble and poor. Always thank you - and God's richest blessing to all the Bruderhof brothers and sisters - especially in PA.

  • sallie smith

    what fun you will have choosing the music!

  • Keith Riddick

    Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this great piece by a God inspired composer and performed by a fantastic ensemble on period instruments!

  • Christy Fonvielle

    Delightful. Thank you so much for making this available to us. I would love to know what exquisite church is the setting for this performance.

  • Mark Anderson

    God bless Gardiner and the period instruments ensemble!

The Plough Music Series is a regular selection of music intended to lift your heart to God. This is not a playlist of background music: each installment will focus on a single piece worth pausing to enjoy.

It seems appropriate to start the year with a selection from the master of sacred music, Johann Sebastian Bach. The Christmas Oratorio (written in 1734) was intended to be performed in six parts on the major feast days of the Christmas season, ending with Part Six on January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, which celebrates God’s son revealed as a human being: the newly born Jesus.

Part Six begins with a mighty chorus that triumphantly declares dependence on God’s power. This is Bach at his most splendid: trumpets, drums, and a full-throated choir. The words (attributed to Christian Friedrich Henrici) are a fitting prayer for the new year; schnauben in the first line literally means “snort”, suggesting warhorses.

Lord, when our haughty foes assail us
O, may it for our peace avail us
To rest upon thy mighty power.
Our only trust, do thou defend us
All needful help and succor send us
To keep us safe in danger’s hour.

Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben,
So gib, dass wir im festen Glauben
Nach deiner Macht und Hülfe sehn!
Wir wollen dir allein vertrauen,
So können wir den scharfen Klauen
Des Feindes unversehrt entgehn.