To say that Schütz had an eventful life is to put it mildly he spent 57 out of 87 years as Kappellmeister to the Elector of Dresden, studied under Gabrielli, traveled again to Italy to observe musical developments there – and had to flee to Denmark no less than three times to escape the ravages of the Thirty Years War. In his introduction to the translation of Moser's biography of Schütz, Pfatteicher called him'one of music's mighty prophets'. Schütz died thirty years before Bach and Handel but he undoubtedly paved the way for those two great masters. But it's a mistake to think of him as just their predecessor Schütz's music is a thing of beauty and wonder in its own right and with it he did much to rejuvenate German music that had become stale and provincial. It was thanks to him that the concerto became a worthwhile genre in its own right while his skill as a word-painter has rarely been matched.
Der Engel Sprach zu den Hirten (The angel spoke unto the shepherds) first appeared in the 1648 edition of Schütz's Geistliche Chörmusik. It's his version of Gabrielli's Angelus ad pastores ait Schütz translated it from Latin to German and allowed instruments to take some of the vocal lines. The result is an unabashedly warm and happy Christmas motet as the performance below by the Pro Catione Antiqua accompanied by the London Sackbut and Cornet Ensemble will testify. Enjoy :-).