Hope is arriving!

Posted on: 24 December 2020, by :

During Advent in 2020 we’ve experienced the stark contrast between increasing gloom — the worsening reach of the pandemic, severe political crises, economic dire straits, our separation from family and friends — and new-found hope now that vaccines are becoming available after the amazing scientific success that produced them. “Help is coming!” say our public-health leaders, instilling hope for the salvation of our way of life, even as they warn against the dangers that will persist in the months ahead.

Advent is always a time of hope even in the gloom, celebrating God’s great promise, in Christ’s birth, of salvation for the world. Some music that captures the heightened hope at the end of Advent with the joyful anticipation of Christmas Eve is this festive motet with dance-like rhythms: Machet die Tore weit, set by Andreas Hammerschmidt (1611-75), an organist celebrated for his sacred compositions who worked for most of his career in Zittau, then in Saxony.

Shown here in a recording session from December 2018, performed by the Knabenchor Hannover and La festa musicale, this is the longer of Hammerschmidt’s two settings, published late in his life (in the collection Fest- und Zeit-Andachten, Dresden, 1671). The finished recording is on Spotify, and a score is available here.


Machet die Thore weit und die Thüre in der Welt hoch,
daß der König der Ehren einziehe.
Wer ist derselbige König der Ehren?
Es ist der Herr, starck und mächtig im Streit.
Es ist der Herr, der Herr Zebaoth.
Er ist der König der Ehren.
Hosianna dem Sohne David.
Gelobet sey der da kömmt im Namen des Herren.
Hosianna in der Höhe!

The text is derived from Psalm 24:7-10 and Matthew 21:9.

Make the gates wide open and the doors in the world high,
so that the King of glory may enter.
Who is this king of glory?
It is the Lord, strong and mighty in battle.
It is the Lord, the Lord of hosts.
He is the King of glory.
Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

Hammerschmidt’s shorter version dates from the 1640s. In this recording made in Basel in 2015, it is performed by the ensemble Concerto Scirocco.