Bach: Christmas Oratorio

​In December 2022, John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio across Europe for the first time since 2008.


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)

Weihnachtsoratorium / Christmas Oratorio

Part 1: Am ersten Weihnachtsfeiertage / For the First Day of Christmas
Part 2: Am zweiten Weihnachtsfeiertage / For the Second Day of Christmas
Part 3: Am dritten Weihnachtsfeiertage / For the Third Day of Christmas
Part 4: Am Feste der Beschneidung Christi / For the Feast of the Circumcision
Part 5: Am Sonntage nach Neujahr / For the First Sunday in the New Year
Part 6: Am Fest der Erscheinung Christi / For the Feast of Epiphany

Bach conjures the joy of Christmas like no other composer in the opening chorus of his Christmas Oratorio: ‘Jauchzet, frohlocket!’ This collection of six cantatas, written for the festivities in Leipzig which started on Christmas Day 1734 and stretched into the first week of 1735, recount in sequence the Coming of Christ, the Nativity, the visit of the Shepherds, the adoration, the circumcision, and the visit of the Wise Men.

Bach’s dazzlingly inventive music recycles movements he had previously composed, mostly for secular cantatas, to bring to life both the Gospel narrative as well as humans’ personal response to it. Interspersed throughout the work are some of the most beautifully composed chorales Bach ever wrote.

John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir provided a chance to hear the complete work, which Bach clearly conceived as a coherent whole, in performances which ally the ensembles’ deep understanding of Bach’s music with the brilliance of a team of outstanding young soloists.


Nick Pritchard - tenor | Evangelist
Hilary Cronin - soprano
Alison Ponsford-Hill - soprano
Hugh Cutting - countertenor
Jonathan Hanley - tenor
Frederick Long - bass
Christopher Webb - bass
Dingle Yandell - bass

Concert dates:

8.00pm, Saturday 3 December 2022
Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Italy
Parts 1-3

2.00pm, Sunday 11 December 2022
Versailles Palace, Versailles, France
Parts 1-6

7.30pm, Tuesday 13 December 2022
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Parts 1-3

7.30pm, Thursday 15 December 2022
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Parts 4-6


‘In every respect, this was a group triumph, with all participants following Gardiner’s judicious lead, always balancing jubilant force with hushed awe.’ The Times ★★★★★.

‘All this flooded our hearts and minds with unusual force, because Gardiner is so alert to the meanings of the words and urges the performers to make them shine out in such a way that they become pure music.’ ‘the evening was pure joy.’ The Telegraph ★★★★

‘The full genius of everything in all six cantatas over two glorious evenings’ ‘Singers and players ran the gamut of a masterpiece that deserves to stand alongside the Passions, but rarely does so in its entirety.’ The Arts Desk

‘Philology that becomes beauty, in the rounded and only slightly rippled sound of the instruments, in the immaculate perfection of the voices.’ Opera Click

Social Media

And it was superb! Bravo @mco_london and @stageplusmusic what a treat to be able to watch at home. P. Owen
Thank you for the Christmas Oratorio concert, it was magnificently performed B. Tjahjadi
Great review of two stunningly good concerts E. Davey
So moving! Wonderful playing and singing. A. Reyersbach

Praise for our J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio trailer series
Thank you so much for this wonderful series. Each episode has been a delight. - B. Leclercq
Exceptional, as always! - C. Atreides
To watch the 6 trailers, please click here.