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    Motet for a New Year

    By Marianne Wright

    January 1, 2018
    • Anne Ryan

      Thank you so much for providing not only the lyrics but the audible version. So lovely and food for thought as well.

    The days between Christmas and Epiphany are a time to reflect on the miracle of Christmas and to look toward the challenges of the coming year. Here’s music from 1646 that does both. Starting and ending with a solemn “Alleluia,” the song describes God’s love in sending his son to the manger to be our friend, and expresses the resolve never to waver from Christ. The end of each verse is overtaken by the chorus, an exuberant repetition of the words “Joy, joy upon joy,” and the song ends with a prayer for a peaceful and blessed new year for all of God’s people. The prayer for peace was as urgent then as today: the Thirty Years’ War had already dragged on for twenty-eight years when composer Andreas Hammerschmidt – who with his family was a refugee during the war – wrote this hope-filled motet.

    John Donne, preaching on New Year’s Day twenty-two years earlier, also reminded his listeners to praise God for another year:

    Doe this to day; as God this day gives thee a New yeare, and hath not surpriz’d thee, nor taken thee away in the sinnes of last yeare; as he gives thee a new year, doe thou give him a New-years-gift, Cor novum, a new . . . heart, and Canticum novum, a new Song, a delight to magnifie his name, and speak of his glory, and declare his wondrous works to the Sonnes of men.

    Listen to this recording:

    Andreas Hammerschmidt Alleluia!
    Detail of a painting depicting a nighttime winter scene with the moon shining on a bridge, a pond and a church. George Herbert McCord, Night Scene in Winter with Moon and a Church Tower in the Background (detail)
    Contributed By Marianne Wright Marianne Wright

    Marianne Wright, a member of the Bruderhof, lives in southeastern New York with her husband and five children.

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    Freuet euch, ihr Christen alle!
    Freue sich, wer immer kann,
    Gott hat viel an uns getan.
    Freuet euch mit großem Schalle,
    Daß er uns so hoch geacht't,
    Sich mit uns befreund't gemacht.

    Freude, Freude über Freude!
    Christus wehret allem Leide.
    Wonne, Wonne über Wonne!
    Er ist die Genadensonne.

    Siehe, siehe, meine Seele,
    Wie dein Heiland kommt zu dir,
    Brennt in Liebe für und für,
    Daß er in der Krippe Höhle
    Harte lieget dir zugut,
    Dich zu lösen durch sein Blut.

    Freude, Freude …

    Jesu, wie soll ich dir danken?
    Ich bekenne, daß von dir
    Meine Seligkeit herrühr'.
    O laß mich von dir nicht wanken,
    Nimm mich dir zu eigen hin,
    So empfindet Herz und Sinn

    Freude, Freude …

    Jesu, nimm dich deiner Glieder
    Ferner in Genaden an!
    Schenke, was man bitten kann,
    Zu erquicken deine Brüder;
    Gib der ganzen Christenschar
    Frieden und ein sel'ges Jahr.

    Freude, Freude …



    Rejoice, all Christians,
    Rejoice, whoever is able,
    God has done great things for us.
    Rejoice with mighty voice
    that he loved us so dearly
    as to have become our friend.

    Joy, joy upon joy!
    Christ defends us from all suffering.
    Delight, delight upon delight!
    He is the Sun of Grace.

    Behold, my soul,
    how your Savior comes to you,
    Forever burning with love,
    so that in the manger
    he lies on a hard bed for your benefit,
    to redeem you through his blood.

    Joy, joy upon joy!...

    Jesus, how shall I thank you?
    I confess that my salvation
    comes only from you.
    May I never waver from you.
    Take me for your own,
    thus my heart and mind will feel

    Joy, joy upon joy!...

    Jesus, lead your followers
    deeper and deeper into grace.
    Grant, we pray you,
    renewal to your brothers:
    give to all Christ’s people
    peace and a blessed year.

    Joy, joy upon joy!...


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