Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 121

It is the fourth Sunday of Advent, and also Christmas Eve! The title of today’s cantata is “Christum wir sollen loben schon” (We should praise Christ highly).


Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 1:26-38:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.


The text of today’s cantata is available here. The cantata was composed for the second day of Christmas but is appropriate to today’s Gospel reading, focusing as it does on Mary and the Virgin Birth:

We should already be praising Christ,
the Son of the pure girl Mary

. . . .

God chooses this pure body as a temple to His honor,
in order to convert mankind in miraculous fashion.

The words of the final chorale:

Praise, honor, and thanks be said to You,
Christ, born from the pure maid,
together with the Father and the Holy Spirit
from now on to eternity.

Happy listening!



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