The fifth part of Bach's Christmas Oratorio was written for the Sunday after the New Year. Although this section of the oratorio has the most modest orchestration, just two oboes d'amore in addition to the strings, it is one of the liveliest sections of the piece. It begins with a lively and energetic chorus. The Evangelist then first tells of the coming of the wise men. The chorus then takes the part of the wise men with tropes by the alto describing our reaction to them. The following chorale again represents the congregation's reaction. Although poetic rather than Biblical, the bass aria clearly depicts one of the wise men in his reaction to this remarkable situation. The Evangelist continues to describe Herod's hysteria. The following trio takes a curious stance when the soprano and tenor ask when the Messiah will appear; the alto quiets them and announces that he already has. After a brief recitative, the section ends with a simple chorale setting.

©Craig Smith

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