The Christmas concerto Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her
(‘From heaven on high I come here’) is one of Knüpfer’s late works, as are probably all his grandly scored sacred concertos. On the copy, which is unique in the Grimma collection, is written the date 1673, which is probably when it was composed. The composition is textually based on a free combination of chorale lines and Biblical quotations, and arranged as a dialogue between the choir of the angels, set for three sopranos and three violins, and the choir of the shepherds, scored for three lower vocal and three instrumental parts. The two choirs unite towards the end of the work in a concluding chorus, praising God. Knüpfer symbolizes the otherworldly quality and unfathomable beauty of the angelic song by a rigorous canon set to the words ‘Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe’ (‘Glory to God in the highest’).
from notes by Peter Wollny © 2000
English: Viola Scheffel