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Music - Christmas

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In dulci jubilo (“In sweet rejoicing")

Over 600 years ago, one of the most famous carols was composed (the composer is unknown)

The earliest known manuscript, Codex 1305, dates the music from c 1400 and is held in Leipzig University Library.

Various arrangements have been made over the centuries and this especially beautiful version is by Bach.



This is a recording by the exceptional English organist, Peter Hurford (who died this year), as part of Decca’s monumental 12 year project from 1974 to 1986 to record all of JS Bach’s organ works.

Except... we now know this piece should NOT have been included in the series because it was NOT composed by JS Bach, but by another member of the Bach family, Johann Michael Bach (there are a lot of Bachs :P)

For over 250 years it was attributed to JS Bach who did in fact compose several arrangements of In dulci jubilo including two organ works: the Orgelbüchlein, BWV 608, and chorale prelude, BWV 739 (BWV - Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, or Bach works catalogue - is the unique identifier numbering system prefix for all works by J S Bach).

This arrangement was found in a manuscript copy made in the 1730s by Johann Gottlieb Preller, which attributed the work to "di Bach" and was assigned the JS Bach catalogue number "BWV 751" in the nineteenth-century.  But after the BWV catalogue first appeared in print (1893), there were doubts that the style was more consistent with Johann Michael Bach rather than his famous relative, Johann Sebastian.

Then, in the 1980s, another copy of this arrangement was discovered among the so-called "Neumeister Chorales", proving once and for all that this chorale is indeed by Johann Michael Bach. 


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The Bach family is a constant  in our family around Christmas. J.S. Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium with a dash of In dulci jubilo.

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