The Christmas oratorio "Die Geburt Christi" op. 90 was first performed in 1894 in the St. Thomas Church in Straßburg and today it has been rediscovered. It is the first of a trio of so-called “church oratorios” by Brahms's friend, Heinrich von Herzogenberg. It was followed by "Die Passion" op. 93 and "Erntefeier" op. 104, all of which have been published by Carus in reprints of earlier editions. With these works which are partly neo-baroque, partly late romantic choral works, Herzogenberg commits himself to a new form of the Protestant worship service characterized by a high artistic level, but still near to the congregation. Allowing the choir to be accompanied by instrumentsoutside the closed liturgical form of the service goes back to a concept of the theologian from Strasbourg, Friedrich Spitta. Since Christmas was a good occasion for the choir to perform independently, Spitta decided to put together the text for a Christmas oratorio and to commission Herzogenberg to realize it musically.
Scoring: Soli SATTBB, mixed choir SATB/SATB, children's choir SSA, congregation, ob, 2 vl, va, vc, cb, org, armo