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Nu kom der Heyden heyland in the Erfurt Enchiridion of 1524

Nu kom der Heyden heyland in the Erfurt Enchiridion of 1524

The First Sunday of Advent begins the liturgical year, and three hundred years ago in Weimar, on 2 December 1714, Bach marked the occasion by performing the six-movement cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (BWV 61). Written for a small ensemble consisting of soprano, tenor, and bass soloists, a four-part chorus, two violins, two violas and basso continuo, the cantata text, combining the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with his promise to  enter the heart of the individual Christian, was provided by Erdmann Neumeister.

The opening chorus is based on the first stanza of Martin Luther’s chorale Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, which in turn is based on Veni redemptor gentium by Ambrose. The last verse of Philipp Nicolai‘s Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern serves as the closing chorale.

As director of music of the main churches of Leipzig, Bach repeated the performance of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland on 28 November 1723.