The second part of Bach's Christmas Oratorio is the most lovable and intimate of all six sections. The opening sinfonia uses the four oboes as the shepherds and the flutes and strings as the accompanying orchestra. The Evangelist then begins to recount the story of the shepherds in the fields. The chorus sings the beautiful chorale "Brich an, o schönes Morgenlicht." The Evangelist then describes the infant Jesus in the manger. The chorale tune "Vom Himmel hoch," one of the most beloved of the chorales, leads us into the gorgeous slumber aria for alto, flute, and strings; notice how the flute hovers above the alto voice like a halo. The chorus then sings the energetic Glory to God chorus. The section ends with "Vom Himmel hoch," this time accompanied by motives from the opening sinfonia.

©Craig Smith

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