Hyperion Records

Magnificat quinti toni – Joseph, lieber Joseph mein – In dulci iubilo
1622 Cantiones Sacrae; second setting of the Magnificat in the 5th tone; SSAT ATTB
author of text
Magnificat: Luke 1: 46-55
author of text
carols: Latin and German of unknown origin

'Praetorius: Magnificats & motets' (CDA67669)
Praetorius: Magnificats & motets

Magnificat quinti toni – Joseph, lieber Joseph mein – In dulci iubilo
Joseph, lieber Joseph mein and In dulci iubilo are two of the best known of all ecclesiastical medieval tunes (the melody of Joseph, lieber Joseph mein is also frequently sung to the Latin text ‘Resonet in laudibus’). Both are Christmas carols, both are in compound duple time, and both are macaronic in that they use a mixture of German and Latin words. Praetorius sets both pieces for eight voices, but whereas In dulci iubilo is scored for a single eight-voice choir, Joseph, lieber Joseph mein is written for two contrasting four-voice choirs (one comprising the four highest voices and the other the four lowest voices). In Germany, Joseph, lieber Joseph mein was associated with the cradle-rocking ceremony at Christmas Vespers—a priest would sit next to a cradle containing an effigy of the baby Jesus and would rock the cradle gently in time to the lilting rhythm of the music. Praetorius sets this text with enormous sensitivity, thoroughly in keeping with the carol’s liturgical function. The high point occurs where the top voice soars to the upper limit of its range with the clearly audible line ‘Hodie apparuit’ (‘Today has appeared’) in a majestic statement of the Christmas miracle. In dulci iubilo is more athletic in its presentation of the text. Syncopations and well-directed suspensions propel the music forward, while at the end of the sixth line of each verse one of the high voices is left singing on its own in what is clearly the act of an organist sharing a Christmas joke with his singers. Ebullient and fervent at the same time, In dulci iubilo fits perfectly within the monumental Magnificat quinti toni where the carol’s syncopated opening matches the canticle’s syncopation at the words ‘et sanctum nomen eius’ which occur immediately before the carol’s first appearance within the Magnificat. The Magnificat—like both carols—is set for eight voices, although its bichoral disposition is subtly different to that of Joseph, lieber Joseph mein. Word-painting is at a premium in the fifth-tone Magnificat. The music rejoices, is holy, is powerful, scatters, and sends empty away as the text requires. Most notably, Abraham is afforded unique respect through the use of resonant block chords which have the effect of freezing time and allowing the listener to connect directly with the Old Testament. The Gloria is symphonic, in the best sense of the word, with all the voices sounding together to create a climax of quite extraordinary power and finality.

from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2008

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67669 track 11
Recording date
20 February 2008
Recording venue
Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Recording engineer
Martin Haskell & Iestyn Rees
Hyperion usage
  1. Praetorius: Magnificats & motets (CDA67669)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: October 2008
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