Christmas market in Berlin at the end of the 18th century. Leipzig had a Christmas market since the year 458. I don’t know if there was a market during the tempus clausum in 1724.

In Bach’s time in Leipzig, between the first Sunday of Advent and Christmas Day, there was no music allowed in the churches other than singing chorales. This tempus clausum (“closed” time) was also in effect during the 40 days before Easter, and was intended for introspection.

Bach’s employer in Weimar, where he worked from 1708 to 1717, did not impose a tempus clausum for Advent, so there are Advent cantatas from Bach’s Weimar time for the second, third, and fourth Sunday of Advent. For a reconstruction of the cantata that would have sounded in the ducal chapel in Weimar on the third Sunday of Advent in 1716, please read my updated post from last year.

In 1724 the tempus clausum was a welcome break for Bach, because he needed to work ahead and rehearse the choir. While the previous year he had sometimes “recycled” cantatas from Weimar, this year he could not do that. In the summer of 1724 he had started a series of chorale cantatas (read more about that here), and if he wanted to keep composing according to this template, he had to write a brand new work for every feast day.

For the 1724/1725 Christmas season, that schedule would look like this:

Monday Dec 25, Christmas Day: Cantata 91 Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Tuesday Dec 26, Second Christmas Day: Cantata 121 Christum wir sollen loben schon

Wednesday Dec 27, Third Christmas Day: Cantata 133 Ich freue mich in dir

Sunday Dec 31, Sunday after Christmas: Cantata 122 Das neugeborene Kindelein

Monday Jan 1, New Year’s Day: Cantata 41 Jesu nun sei gepreiset

Saturday Jan 6, Epiphany: Cantata 123 Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen

Sunday Jan 7, First Sunday after Epiphany: Cantata 124 Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht

Wieneke Gorter, December 17, 2017.