Front Page Titles (by Subject) In dulci jubilo. - Bach's Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works
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In dulci jubilo. - Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach’s Chorals, vol. 3 The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works 
Bach’s Chorals. Part III: The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Organ Works, by Charles Sanford Terry (Cambridge University Press, 1915-1921). 3 vols. Vol. 3.
Part of: Bach’s Chorals, 3 vols.
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In dulci jubilo.
The mediaeval Christmas hymn, “In dulci jubilo,” a macaronic partly German, partly Latin, dates from the early part of the fifteenth century, or earlier. It is found in various forms, of from three to eight stanzas in length. The ancient melody of the hymn was printed for the first time in Joseph Klug’s Geistliche Lieder zu Wittenberg (Wittenberg, 1535 ).
Besides a four-part setting of it in Choralgesange, No. 215, the melody is treated in two Organ movements. Witt (No. 36), it may be remarked, has B natural for the fifth and thirteenth notes of the tune (supra):
N. xv. 26. The Christmas movement is a canon on the octave between the Bass and Treble, against a florid background in Bach’s characteristic “joy” rhythm. In the original Autograph the Pedal part is written for an 8ft. stop and is carried up to F sharp. A Pedal of that natural compass was unusual then and remains unusual now. Spitta infers1 that Bach used the Weimar Castle 4ft. Cornet stop on the Pedals. But in a movement of very similar construction, “Gottes Sohn ist kommen.” (N. xv. 5), where the Pedal is carried up to F natural, Bach’s own direction is “Ped. Tromp. 8 F.” In N. xv. 26 the Pedal is transposed down an octave.
N. xviii. 61. A brilliant treatment of the melody, inspired, it is impossible to doubt, by the third stanza of the hymn, a vision of the heavenly halls:
If, as certainly was the case, the movement was designed to accompany the congregational singing of the hymn, we can understand, though not be tempted to associate ourselves with, the complaint of the Arnstadt Consistory against Bach, February 21, 1706: “Charge him with having been hitherto in the habit of making surprising variationes in the chorals, and intermixing divers strange sounds, so that thereby the congregation were confounded1 .” It is in the Christmas hymns particularly—judging by the examples that survive—that Bach painted the glorious pictures which their melodies summoned before his responsive mind.
Of this movement Spitta writes finely2 : “The first lines are brought out in majestic five-part harmony below the notes of the melody. But from the third line the flood of ornate imagery which is poured in among them can no longer be held back. It spreads out under cover of the upper part, becomes visible during the pauses between the sections, sometimes makes its way to the highest part, overspreading the melody for a little space; then, hurried on into triplets, it surges from the depths with added force, and returns to calm only on the last line but one, where the master restores the peace that ruled at the beginning, and builds up at last a seven-part harmony on the tonic pedal, which is held through several bars. As we contemplate such a piece as this, some dim idea steals over us of the form it must have assumed under Bach’s fingers, when, wrapt in the ecstasy of religious inspiration, he called up visions of celestial palaces, appearing and vanishing in an instant, and golden cloud-castles, the sublime and visionary birthplace of these sacred voices and pious melodies.”
The movement comes to us through a ms. once in the possession of Johann Christian Kittel1 , who died in 1809. He was the last of Bach’s pupils. Krebs also preserved a sketch of it.
B.G. xl. 158 prints a “Variant” of the movement from a Krebs ms. in the Royal Library, Berlin. It is significant of their purpose that these examples of the art of accompanying survive generally in the collections of Bach’s pupils.
[1 ]Scottish Text Society (1897), p. 53. The translation is of a three-stanza version dated 1550.
[1 ] Vol. i. 602.
[1 ] Spitta, i. 315.
[2 ]Ibid. 596.
[1 ] Peters, v. 103.