Capella de la Torre ( Dec. 8, 2020

Kind of a trifecta here. I’ve been posting YouTube videos lately of music that just makes me happy when I watch them, and this one hits at least three of my criteria: It’s by one of my favorite early music groups, Capella de la Torre. It features one of my favorite pieces of music in the German Lutheran canon, a hymn In dir ist Freude that has the lilt and energy of its origins in Italian madigral singing. And it records an imaginative project that brought together musicians from the German ensemble, directed by by Katharina Bäuml, and young musicians from Austria and Japan.

I think it shows what a wonderful communications tool the internet can be, too, especially for those of us with compromised immune systems, which lifts it out of trifecta territory! (Is there such a thing as a quadrifecta?) The video was uplinked Dec. 8, 2020, near the height of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Capella de la Torre write:

In these times when it’s not possible to travel and to meet up with all our friends, Capella de la Torre sent a Renaissance song on the journey. Students from Germany, Austria and Japan build a musical bridge across all borders. Players and singers in the project come from Germany, Austria and Japan, from Yuhigaoka High School, IGS Marienhafe Moorhusen and many other places. We are very happy that this project could be realized – Thank you so much to everybody, we are looking forward to meeting you all very soon again!!

Wikipedia has has this at (boldface and links to other Wikipedia articles in the original):

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“.

Both, which is maintained by Calvin University and is considered authoritative in the US, and the Bach Cantatas website assign the text to German composer Johannes Lindemann instead of Schneegaß. Thomas Braatz’ profile of In dir ist Freude has this background:

Johannes Lindemann’s most important work is Amorum filii Dei decades duae … Zwantzig Weyhenachten Gesenglein … zum Theil unter … Madrigalia und Balletti (Erfurt, 1594, 1596 and 1598), a three-volume anthology of contrafacta of five-part Italian secular pieces. Eight are by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi, and the Latin title of the collection may perhaps be seen as recalling Gastoldi’s pieces Amor, tu che congiungi and Filli vezzosa e lieta. Lindemann’s uncle, Cyriak Lindemann, probably knew Georg Fabricius, one of the leading hymnologists of the Reformation period, who studied in Italy for four years. Johannes Lindemann’s particular significance as one of the first to marry the Italian madrigal with the chorale tradition of central Germany and Thuringia is thus brought into focus. An illustration is afforded by his chorale In dir ist Freude, a contrafactum of Gastoldi’s L’innamorate; it became one of the best-known Protestant chorales. Nearly all of Lindemann’s music is lost, though there are isolated hymns in the Cantionale sacrum (Gotha, 1646-1648) and in the other Thuringian collections. [Links in the original.]

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s Psalter Hymnal Handbook, copied by, has this advice for parish musicians:

The melody consists of short phrases formed into two sections, each repeated. The well-known organ prelude on this tune by Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) is cast into complex counterpoint (found in his Orgelbuchlein). But congregational singing and accompaniment should reflect the original character of lighthearted dance music. Sing in a swinging lively manner and strive for long musical phrases. Part singing is appropriate throughout, or try changing from unison to part singing (or vice versa) at the repeats of the A and B musical phrases. Maintain one pulse per measure.

So when I play it, I try to swing it a little bit. In general, I think the Germans do a slightly better job with it than the Americans represented on YouTube.

A footnote. This melody can be a real earworm, and in February I posted several YouTube videos from Germany and the United States under the rather self-explanatory headline “In dir ist Freude / ‘In Thee is Gladness’: Notes and links so I can learn it.” Some of them are quite remarkable. Including a performance by a German brass choir made up of tubas! It’s usually printed in F, but I learned it in D from Nina Zanetti’s dulcimer tab, for an instrument tuned to DAD, in her early music collection Heart’s Ease.

[Published Dec. 3, 2022]

2 thoughts on “In dir ist Freude: A German chorale with roots in madrigal tradition that just makes me happy (especially this performance)

  1. Beautiful in so many ways for so many reasons! I was impressed by the various generations participating as well as the variety of countries and cultures!
    Thanks for sharing, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sister! I think it’s kinda wonderful that something as horrible as the Covid pandemic inspired so many people to put technology to work in unexpected, and beautiful, ways. I know it’s been a blessing to those of us who have to be careful of our immune systems.


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