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Puer natus in Bethlehem

author of text
16th century

Within a relatively short publishing career, from 1605 to his death in 1621, Praetorius disseminated through print an astonishingly rich array of music for Lutheran liturgical use, focusing particularly on settings of traditional melodies (especially chorales). Writing for double choir predominates in the early volumes of his monumental series Musæ Sioniæ, which includes (in the second volume, 1607) the settings of In dulci jubilo and Puer natus in Bethlehem. Both represent the prominence of macaronic texts—mixing elements in Latin and the vernacular—in the Christmas repertory of the middle ages and beyond, and more generally the juxtaposition of Latin and German which was quite common practice in Lutheran churches. In Puer natus in Bethlehem the first verse of the medieval Latin hymn is then repeated in German translation (‘Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem’), whereafter the Christmas scene is presented in German, with a return to a mixture of Latin and German stanzas for the concluding offering of praise. This particular German translation of the Latin hymn, and the associated melody, date from the mid sixteenth century. In this lengthy work Praetorius keeps the listeners’ attention partly through the varied and witty manner in which he treats the ‘alleluia’ which ends every verse, and also through switches between triple and duple metre.

from notes by Owen Rees © 2020


A Ceremony of Carols
Studio Master: SIGCD627Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 25 on SIGCD627 [5'17] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD627 track 25

Recording date
3 July 2019
Recording venue
The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. A Ceremony of Carols (SIGCD627)
    Disc 1 Track 25
    Release date: October 2020
    Download only
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