Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (How beautifully the
morning star shines), BWV 1,[a] is a church cantata by
Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in 1725 in
Leipzig for the feast of the Annunciation and it was
first performed on 25 March 1725, which fell that year
on Palm Sunday. It is a chorale cantata, being based on
the hymn "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (1599) by
This cantata is part of Bach's second annual cycle of
cantatas, begun on the first Sunday after Trinity 1724.
It was the last chorale cantata in the cycle and is
based on the hymn "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern"
(1599) by Philipp Nicolai. The hymn was associated with
Epiphany but also with the Annunciation, and it was the
latter feast for which the cantata was written. In
Leipzig the Annunciation was celebrated with music,
although it typically falls in Lent, when Leipzig
observed tempus clausum. This cantata was first
performed on 25 March 1725 (which in that year was also
Palm Sunday) and its joyful nature would have been all
the more striking after the suspension of music for
The scoring provides a rich orchestration, the sparkle
of the morning star is illustrated by two solo violins.
The scoring is reminiscent of Sie werden aus Saba alle
kommen, BWV 65, written for Epiphany. The cantus firmus
in the chorale fantasia of the opening chorus is sung
by the sopranos. The other voices support the melody,
sometimes preparing it.
Both recitatives are secco, with melismata on the words
"Freudenschein" (joyful radiance) and "Erquickung"
(refreshment). The first aria combines the soprano
voice with the oboe da caccia in alto range. Two
violins accompany the tenor in the second aria,
reminiscent of the opening chorus.
The closing chorale is embellished by an independent
part of the second horn, while the other instruments
double the voices.
The cantata in six movements is scored for soprano,
tenor, and bass soloists, a four-part choir, two horns,
two oboes da caccia, two violins obbligato, viola and
basso continuo. A festive scoring like this, including
brass, was usually performed on holidays. Bach would
later use the pair of horns in Part IV of his Christmas
Oratorio, dealing with the naming of Jesus as announced
I created this arrangement of the opening Chorus: "Wie
schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How beautifully the
morning star shines) for Winds (Bb Trumpet, Flugelhorn,
Flutes, Oboes, Bb Clarinets, English Horn, French Horn
& Bassoon) & Strings (3 Violins, 2 Violas & Cellos.