From the foreword:
Bach's Christmas Oratoriois, unlike the generic name "Oratory" suggests, not intended for a performance in context, but as a cycle of six individual works that were to be played in the church services of the Christmas period as "main music" instead of the cantata. The oratorio was created in 1734. The six parts were, as a preserved text, noted on the three Christmas holidays of the same year and on New Year's Day, Sunday after New Year (January 2) and Epiphany (17 January 1735) in the Leipzig Main Church of St. Nicolai presented, parts I, II, IV and VI also in the Thomaskirche. Probably Bach, if not the whole, so at least parts of the oratorio in later years performed again, but missing on this the news.
In the century and a half since its rediscovery to the public, the Christmas Oratorio has only found its way back to the services of the Christmas Circle in exceptional cases; its proper place has long been the public concert, where it is usually performed in a condensed form, occasionally even in double sessions. By far the most widespread form of performance is that of the performance of Parts I-III, which, in terms of content, focus on the actual Christmas scene as well as formally, with their weighty conclusion in the key and in the radiant orchestration of the entrance choir, a closed and rounded whole.
This complete edition of the Christmas Oratorio is an extension of 1999 Edition limited to Parts I-III. The musical text of Parts I-III is unchanged except for some corrections.
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