Two German Chorales

I. Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light
II. Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Composed by I. Johann Schop* II. Louis Bourgeois*
Arranged by Dan Miner
Voicing: TB
Instrumentation: optional keyboard accompaniment
Catalog number: AMP 1164
Price: $2.30

Harmonization by J.S. Bach

Performance Notes:

The two chorales in this set offer accessible arrangements of music famously arranged and harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach. Each offers the original German text as well as English text for adaptability and use by choirs of all ability levels.

Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

This chorale is an excerpt from Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248). The original, Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist, was written by Johann Schop with text by Johann Rist. Bach harmonized this melody and used the text from the twelfth stanza in his oratorio, as presented in this arrangement. In addition to slight rhythmic alterations, editorial markings include dynamics, breath marks, and tenutos, all of which are written to aid choirs in understanding phrase structure, word stress, and overall musicality. Choirs are encouraged to sing and add a slight crescendo over each bar line, as indicated in measures 4 through 5 and 8 through 9.

Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow

Johann Sebastian Bach's harmonization and rhythmic editing breathes a fresh life into the OLD HUNDREDTH tune found in many modern hymnals. From his 371 Harmonized Chorales, Bach's approach to this famous melody offers a lilting quality in contrast to the majestic and “march-like” approach more commonly heard. Choirs should work to achieve the lilt by stressing downbeats (marked with tenutos) and avoiding an accent on the pickup beat to each phrase. Note that the tempo is a suggestion, as indicated by the parenthesis. Directors should feel free to take a tempo that works for their ensemble to promote healthy and supported singing through the long phrases.

Click here to see a sample.

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