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December 19

This piece was originally written for organ and catalogued as BWV 734 in J.S. Bach's complete works. He probably composed it during his years as the court organist in Weimar (1708-1717). Its melody, written by none other than Martin Luther himself, is one of the earliest Lutheran hymn tunes. The Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) made piano transcriptions of many works of Bach, including two volumes of organ chorale preludes, and this particular one is rife with difficulty. Mark recorded the prelude using a Steinway piano sample, an Akai MPK-88 Keyboard Controller and his office IMac with Logic Studio software.

Downloads: mp3

Nun freut euch, lieben Christen (Rejoice, dear Christians)

Performed by Mark Gionfriddo on piano

Words: Martin Luther; trans. C.G. Haas, 1897.
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach/tr. Ferruccio Busoni

Dear Christian people all, rejoice,
Each soul with joy upraising.
Pour forth a song with heart and voice,
With love and gladness singing.
Give thanks to God, our Lord above,
Thanks for His miracle of love!
Dearly He hath redeemed us.

He spoke to His beloved Son
With infinite compassion:
"Go hence, my heart's most precious One,
Be to the lost Salvation;
Death, his relentless tyrant, stay,
And bear him from his sins away
With Thee to live forever!"

The Son came, saying: "Cling to Me,
Thy sorrows now are ending;
Freely I give Myself to thee,
Thy life with Mine defending;
For I am thine and thou art Mine,
And where I am there thou shalt shine,
The foe shall never reach us."

"To heaven again I rise from hence,
High to my Father soaring,
The Master there to be, and thence
My Spirit on thee pouring;
In every grief to comfort thee,
And teach thee more and more of Me,
Into all truth still guiding."

"What I have done and taught on earth,
Do Thou, and teach, none dreading;
That so God's kingdom may go forth,
And His high praise be spreading;
And guard thee from the words of men,
Lest the great joy be lost again:
This my last charge I leave thee."

Sources and more information