Date: Saturday 13 November 2021

Time: 7.30pm

Andrew Lucas Conductor

Rowan Pierce Soprano

Ben Hewlett Tenor

Matthew Brooke Bass

Sinfonia Verdi

St. Albans Bach Choir is proud to present again Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, our first public performance since December 2019! The choir last sang the work in November 2013, when we presented Parts 1-3 and 6. On this occasion we will be concentrating on the first three parts, composed in 1734 for the first three days of Christmas, December 25, 26 and 27.

The Christmas Oratorio is not a continuous piece, but rather six separate oratorios. The remaining three were composed for New Year’s Day, the Sunday after New Year and the Feast of the Epiphany. In their scoring each cantata is different indicating they were not conceived as a single work, and for concert purposes it is normal to pick and choose which Parts to sing. Each part consists of narration (a tenor solo as the Evangelist), recitatives, choruses and arias, with chorales, based on familiar Lutheran hymns to provide commentary. In Bach’s day it is possible that members of the congregation would join in the chorales – not a practice encouraged these days!

By the time he composed the six Parts of the Christmas Oratorio, Bach had been in post as Kantor at St. Thomas’s Leipzig for 11 years, and had already composed a huge body of cantatas for weekly use in the city’s two churches. It was common practice in the 18th century for composers to recycle their earlier works, so as to be able to keep up with the demands of producing a continuous cycle of liturgy. Some of the music in the Christmas Oratorio was recycled or recomposed, while there was much other new material. The text of the Oratorio was supplied by the German poet Picander, who had supplied Bach with the libretti for many of his cantatas and also the St. Matthew Passion.

It is a joy for the choir to return to giving public performances after enforced silence. It is wholly appropriate that this return to singing should present one of the greatest pieces by the composer from whom we take our name, and that it should celebrate the Christmas season, a time of rebirth and renewal.


Premium £30 - Centre front with full view

Classic £26 - Centre middle with full view 

Standard plus £20 - Centre back with full view

Standard £15 - Centre back with full view  

No view £13 - Mainly located in the aisles or behind pillars. These seats have no view of the stage.

No view seats will only be released when seats with views have sold out.


Concessions are available for Students with ID except on Premium seats.

Wheelchair spaces and carer discounts can only be booked through the Box Office on 01727 890290.


Doors will open 30 minutes before concert starts. There is an interval of 20 minutes during this performance.