Dieterich Buxtehude (c. 1637 to 1639) was a
German-Danish organist and composer of the Baroque
period. His organ works represent a central part of the
standard organ repertoire and are frequently performed
at recitals and in church services. He composed in a
wide variety of vocal and instrumental idioms, and his
style strongly influenced many composers, including
Johann Sebastian Bach. Buxtehude, along with Heinrich
Schütz, is considered today to be one of the most
important German composers of the mid-Baroque.
This chorale sets the fourteenth-century macaronic hymn
"In Dulci Jubilo" (Its text is both in Latin and
German). The text of the first verse reads, "In sweet
jollity now sing and rejoice: The delight of our heart
lies in a manger and shines like the sun at his
mother's breast. He is alpha and omega." The last two
verses of the hymn end with the expression of the
desire to have actually been there when all of this
happened. Buxtehude places the hymn melody in the
soprano, as he frequently does in his chorale
treatments, and deploys it with liberal embellishment.
When the text speaks of rejoicing, Buxtehude uses some
tricks with octave displacement to paint a picture of
extroverted celebration. Like the chorale prelude on
Puer natus in Bethlehem, this piece is in 3/2 time.
Although originally created for as a chorale-cantata in
1683 for soprano, alto and bass accompanied by two
violins and continuo (BuxWV 52) and here as a chorale
prelude for organ (BuxWV 197) c. 1690, I adapted this
work for a non-traditional woodwind quartet (Flute,
Oboe, English Horn and Bassoon) to accentuate their
warm rich tones.