Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern

Dietrich Buxtehude

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern in G Major

BuxWV. 223

About this work

This chorale prelude sets one of the most popular Lutheran chorales of the Epiphany season. The subject of the chorale is the star that guided the three wise men to find Jesus, the main even t celebrated during Epiphany. The first verse of the chorale reads as follows: "How brightly beams the morning star, full of grace and truth from the Lord, the sweet root of Jesse! Thou son of David from the stem of Jacob, my king and my bridegroom, you have possessed my heart; lovely, friendly, beautiful and great, powerful and honorable, rich in gifts, elevated, and rich in splendor." Buxtehude's setting of the chorale is a nice long chorale fantasy. He begins with the chorale tune in the bass, and by the 30th measure of the piece the melody migrates to the soprano. Starting at the 77th measure of the piece, Buxtehude begins to play with descending sequences with suspensions, which have their basis in the long descending line from the last phrase of the chorale; however, at this point, the chorale melody isn't really tied to any particular voice any more. At measure 136 Buxtehude initiates a gigue-like fugue, with each point of imitation in the fugue derived from the chorale melody. This fugal imitative texture continues through the end of the work. Only the last few measures of the piece require pedals, which makes the conclusion sound all the bolder relative to the rest of the work.