KS3/4/5: Bach's Christmas Oratorio & Christmas No.1s
This article will take a look at two contrasting examples of Christmas music 250 years apart.
In the first section, primarily aimed at KS5 students, we will explore Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, in particular how he and his librettist combined Biblical passages, Lutheran chorales and newly written text to create a varied but highly unified dramatic and musical structure.
An associated extension activity will focus on arranging and elaborating chorales for an instrumental ensemble. In the second part, geared towards KS3 upwards, we turn to the Christmas No. 1, and we will explore what qualities give a song a Christmas feel and look at the different types of song that have dominated the charts in previous years. This will include extension activities of creating a cover of a song for a whole class, using a similar working technique to that of the 1984 Band Aid team, and a tool for assessing how ‘Christmassy’ a song or other piece of music is.