The Christmas Oratorio BWV 248, is an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach intended for performance in church during the Christmas season. It was written for the Christmas season of 1734 incorporating music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas written during 1733 and 1734 and a now lost church cantata, BWV 248a. The date is confirmed in Bach's autograph manuscript. The next performance was not until 17 December 1857 by the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin under Eduard Grell. The Christmas Oratorio is a particularly sophisticated example of parody music. The author of the text is unknown, although a likely collaborator was Christian Friedrich Henrici (Picander).
It was conceived as a set of six cantatas. Unlike the Passion settings and the oratorios of Bach's exact contemporary Handel, the six parts of his Christmas Oratorio were performed on separate days. Bach wrote the six cantatas to celebrate the whole period of the Christmas festivities of 1734-35, starting with Part I on Christmas Day, and ending with Part VI on Epiphany (January 6th). The performances were divided between his two churches: Parts I, II, IV and VI were given at the Thomaskirche, and Parts III and V at the Nicolaikirche.
Bach wrote the Christmas Oratorio over a short period. Unusually for him, but perhaps by necessity, he recycled music from earlier compositions. At least eleven sections have been identified as coming from three earlier secular cantatas, with Bach working with his frequent collaborator Picander to alter the texts for their new use. It is thought that several more sections may be based on lost sacred works, including the documented but now lost St Mark Passion. Bach also composed new music for much of the piece, including all of the recitatives and chorales.
This arias is selected from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248. The alto aria ‘Bereite dich, Zion’ (‘Make Ready, Zion’) and is arranged here for woodwind trio (Flute, Oboe and Bassoon) and is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).