d r a f t
I came across this 16th-century German hymn online when I was looking for something else. (Serendipity. Story of my life, at least in its better moments.) Checked it out. Decided to try to learn it. Discovered it transposes well to D Mixolydian. Decided it definitely needs to be on my playlist. Then found that Nina Zanetti has tabbed it for dulcimer tuned DAD in her early music collection Heart’s Ease.
Clearly this was meant to be!
But I tend to use the “dots,” the music, for general orientation and to get through tricky passages, then set it aside — kind of like I use a road map — so I’ve been collecting different interpretations of the hymn. Then, with that out of the way, I basically learn the tune by ear.
In the first YouTube clip, at the top of this post, it looks like Capella de la Torre playing at the beginning, BTW, on the YouTube clip that first got my attention. Katharina Bäuml on recorder, other members of the ensemble, in a service at Nürnberg in 2017.
Wikipedia has info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capella_de_la_Torre, and Capella are all over YouTube, mostly in German.
2. The performance I can learn the most from, is by the Rev. Detlef Korsen, a pastor in northwestern Germany not far from Bremen. He sings the chorale melody, accompanying himself on the guitar … the guy posts solo versions of old Lutheran chorales and Reformed (Calvinist) metrical psalms on his YouTube channel, along with weekly services and liturgical music. (All in German, alas!)
Korsen gives this background:
Text: Cyriakus Schneegass 1598, Melodie: Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi 1591, geistlich 1598, Evangelisches Gesangbuch Nr. 398, als Wochenlied dem 2. Sonntag nach Epiphanias zugeordnet, aufgenommen in der St.-Bartholomöus-Kirche in Golzwarden
St. Bartholomew’s looks like a lovely old church on the Weser between Bremen and the North Sea coast. Didn’t visit it, but I fell in love with Bremen and Lower Saxony when Debi and I visited in 2011.
3. This video, for classical guitar students, has a slowed-down and easy-to-follow arrangement of the melody, taken from a German translation of Gastoldi’s melody. (Chamber Music #76 “An Hellen tagen”by Gastoldi. Classical Guitar Pedagogy)
Song history — madrigal to chorale
Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_dir_ist_Freude has this (and more):
“In dir ist Freude” (In You Is Joy) is a German hymn with text attributed to Cyriacus Schneegaß, written to a 1591 dance song melody by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi. It was first published in a collection of Christmas carols in Erfurt in 1594, and then published again in 1598. Johann Sebastian Bach composed a chorale prelude, BWV 615, as part of his Orgelbüchlein. The song is part of the common Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch, and of many hymnals and songbooks, including ecumenical collections. It was translated by Catherine Winkworth as “In Thee Is Gladness“. [Links in the original.]
I can’t find much on “An Hellen Tagen,” but a comment by Petra K. on Detlef Korsen’s rendition of In dir est Freude (above) has this: “Das Lied ist toll vorgetragen. Nach derselben Melodie singt man auch “an hellenTagen”, da habe ich im Chor immer den Sopran 2 gesungen. Ich mag die schwungvolle Melodie, da kann man so richtig schön schmettern.” (Herr Doktor Google translates as follows: “The same melody is also sung “on bright days”, where I always sang soprano 2 in the choir. I like the swinging melody, you can really smash it.)
4. Madrigale Eppstein “An Hellen Tagen” (singing begins at 2:00) KK (KK (Kulturkreis) Eppstein in
Bach Cantatas Website at https://www.bach-cantatas.com/CM/In-dir-ist-Freude.htm has background by Thomas Braatz & Aryeh Oron on the chorale melody. Plus an interesting discussion I don’t quite follow on its relation to Italian and English madrigrals. I can certainly hear the similarity in the melody, tho’. Also this:
According to the MGG1, there are similarities between the dance characteristics of the melody of In dir ist Freude and Johann Georg Eberling’s 1666 melody for Paul Gerhardt’s Die güldne Sonne voll Freud und Wonne. Despite the obvious differences between the verse structure of each and Ebeling’s apparent modification of the melody to express the content of the first verse in the upward and downward movement of the melodic line, an uncanny resemblance between both melodies nevertheless remains.
In English translation
Catherine Winkworth’s is the standard English translation. “In Thee is gladness.” Hymnary.org page has the essentials at
5. Page scan in ELW (No. 867) and other Lutheran hymnals …. ELW is in F.
Sung by the Virtual Choir of Faith Lutheran Church, Andover, MA Text by Johann Lindemann (1549-1631) English translation by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
6. Best English version (imho) by a choir of the Shenandoah Christian Music Camp, which serves Anabaptist churches — in English and German …
Misc. performances (very miscellaneous)
7. A very nice children’s choir in Hamburg — nice tempo, lovely dynamics
8. One of my very favorite performances, by church musicians near Frankfurt, making the best of a bad situation with the available technology during that first terrible surge of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. Their explanation:
Ev. Philippus-Gemeinde Mainz-Bretzenheim — Heute mal ganz traditionell und ganz schlicht. Ein schöner alter Choral, der auch als Madrigal “An hellen Tagen” durch die Musikgeschichte anders. Interpretiert als fünfstimmiger Satz ganz nach dem evangelischen Gesangbuch mit einem Klavier, 5 Flöten und 5 SängerInnen (auch wenn nur viere zu sehen sind).
9. An English choral society tackling the German madrigal:
“The Waters of Tyne and Ruhr”: Music for a Summer Evening by the Northern English Singers and the Madrigalchor Gelsenkirchen-Buer in St. James’s URC, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 9 June 2012. Conductor: Martina Wronski
YouTube page has Text of: An hellen Tagen (Giovanni Gastoldi) in German
10. And a rather strange arrangement for tuba — by participants in a regional conference:
Konzert zum WeltTubaTag 2013 in der Kirche Bobengrün. Die Bläsergruppe hat in dieser Besetzung erstmalig zusammengespielt und nach einer nur 2-Stündigen Probe ein kleines Konzert geboten. Sie kommen aus den verschiedenen Posaunenchören der Region Hochfranken: zwischen Rehau und Rödenthal(bei Coburg) und Lichtenberg – Selbitz. Auch Gäste aus Nürnberg und Baden-Württemberg waren extra angereist. Wichtig war uns das gemeinsame musizieren und der Spass und die Freude an schöner Musik. Der jüngste Teilnehmer war 12, unser ältester 74 Jahre.