Jaren Hinckley

Composer / Clarinetist

Felix Mendelssohn

I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Felix Mendelssohn

December 29, 2013



For my final December-themed blog post of 2013, I chose a set of choral works by Mendelssohn collectively titled…


TITLE: “Sechs Sprüche für das Kirchenjahr, Op. 79” (Six Maxims for the Church Year).


DESCRIPTION OF THE PIECE: These six brief choral works (all under two minutes) focus on six important days in the church year—Christmas, New Year’s Day, Ascension Day, Passiontide, Advent, and Good Friday. Each ends with the word “Hallelujah.” Upon first listening, these could be mistaken for a cappella works from an earlier time period, however, there is just enough pleasing dissonance to pinpoint the composition as being from the Romantic Era.


HIGHLIGHT: Appropriately enough for the current time of year, the highlight for me is the first piece in the set–“Weihnachten” (Christmas).  Here is the text (first the German, then the English translation):


Frohlocket, ihr Völker auf Erden, und preiset Gott!

Der Heiland ist erschienen, denn der Herr verheißen.

Er hat seine Gerechtigkeit der Welt offenbaret.



Rejoice, ye people on earth, and praise the Lord!

The Saviour has appeared, whom the Lord has promised.

He has manifested his justice to the world.



As you listen, notice the cool dissonance that occurs on the first syllable of the word “preiset.” After that, the words “Herr,” “Gerechtigkeit” and “Welt” have the most glorious rich harmonies. (Especially the 2nd syllable of “Gerechtigkeit”!) Enjoy!


I found some fun YouTube videos of all six pieces where you can follow along with the score (but I’m less fond of the choir on these videos than of the example above).  Here are the links if you’re interested

Christmas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQWPhghoE5g

New Year’s Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIkvP7qhA_Y

Ascension Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSPYE8iXsmw

Passiontide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGEcVlwiCZ8

Advent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2eE4DY7u7c

Good Friday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHn0SfNvQE8


WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY MENDELSSOHN?:  With over 100 opus numbers, I’ve got a ways to go!