Samuel de Lange (1840-1911)

Frieden, op. 87, no. 4 (from Die Nordsee : vier Gesänge)

recording, score, notes, text and translation


Peter W. Shea, tenor; Gretchen Saathoff, pianist

Recorded live in concert at Songs of Love and the Sea, settings of Die Nordsee: Erster Zyklus by Heinrich Heine

December 13, 2005, South Congregational Church, Amherst MA

Use controls to listen to selection (9 minutes and 35 seconds) (starts automatically).

 

Click here to open score file in new window (PDF format, 9 pages)


Samuel de Lange was a Dutch organist and composer born in Rotterdam. After early studies with his eponymous father and others, he went on an extended concert tour of Europe in 1858 with his younger brother Daniël, a cellist. The brothers returned in 1862 to Rotterdam where Samuel became a music teacher, choir director and organist. He played an influential part in the Dutch Bach renaissance, organizing and conducting orchestral concerts as well as playing keyboard instruments in solo and chamber music. Later in his career he lived, taught organ and conducted in Cologne, The Hague and Stuttgart. He composed in a wide range of genres, and is unique among composers for his attraction to Heine’s sea poems. All but two of his eleven Heine settings are of poems from the two Nordsee cycles. This one was published in the first decade of the 20th century.

As originally published in Heine's Reisebilder in 1826, this poem had a second section reflective of Heine’s ambivalence concerning his recent conversion to Christianity. Its bitter, venomous tone contrasts starkly with the first section’s religiosity, and skewers pious Christian hypocrisy to such devastating effect that the ensuing public outcry led the poet to withdraw it. Lange set to music only the first part, as published in Heine's Buch der Lieder of 1827. The second section begins at the triple stars. The English translation is by Louis Untermeyer, from his Poems of Heinrich Heine : three hundred and twenty-five poems (New York, Henry Holt, 1917).

Hoch am Himmel stand die Sonne,
Von weißen Wolken umwogt,
Das Meer war still,
Und sinnend lag ich am Steuer des Schiffes,
Träumerisch sinnend - und, halb im Wachen
Und halb im Schlummer, schaute ich Christus,
Den Heiland der Welt.
Im wallend weißen Gewande
Wandelt' er riesengroß
Über Land und Meer;
Es ragte sein Haupt in den Himmel,
Die Hände streckte er segnend
Über Land und Meer;
Und als ein Herz in der Brust
Trug er die Sonne,
Die rote, flammende Sonne,
Und das rote, flammende Sonnenherz
Goß seine Gnadenstrahlen
Und sein holdes, liebseliges Licht,
Erleuchtend und wärmend,
Über Land und Meer.

Glockenklänge zogen feierlich
Hin und her, zogen wie Schwäne
An Rosenbändern, das gleitende Schiff,
Und zogen es spielend ans grüne Ufer,
Wo Menschen wohnen, in hochgetürmter,
Ragender Stadt.

O Friedenswunder! Wie still die Stadt!
Es ruhte das dumpfe Geräusch
Der schwatzenden, schwülen Gewerbe,
Und durch die reinen, hallenden Straßen
Wandelten Menschen, weißgekleidete,
Palmzweigtragende,
Und wo sich zwei begegneten,
Sahn sie sich an, verständnisinnig,
Und schauernd, in Liebe und süßer Entsagung,
Küßten sie sich auf die Stirne,
Und schauten hinauf
Nach des Heilands Sonnenherzen,
Das freudig versöhnend sein rotes Blut
Hinunterstrahlte,
Und dreimalselig sprachen sie:
"Gelobt sei Jesu Christ!"

 

*  *  *


Hättest du doch dies Traumbild ersonnen,
Was gäbest du drum,
Geliebtester!
Der du in Kopf und Lenden so schwach,
Und im Glauben so stark bist,
Und die Dreifaltigkeit ehrest in Enfalt,
Und den Mops und das Kreuz und die Pfote
Der hohen Gönnerinn täglich küssest,
Und dich hinaufgefrömmelt hast
Zum Hofrath und dann zum Justizrath,
Und endlich zum Rathe bei der Regierung,
In der frommen Stadt,
Wo der Sand und der Glauben blüht,
Und der heiligen Sprea geduldiges Wasser
Die Seelen wäscht und den Thee verdünnt--
Hättest du doch dies Traumbild ersonnen,
Geliebtester!
Du trügest es, höheren Ortes, zu Markt,
Dein weiches, blinzelndes Antlitz
Verschwämme ganz in Andacht und Demuth,
Und die Hocherlauchte,
Verzückt und wonnebebend,
Sänke betend mit dir auf's Knie,
Und ihr Auge, seelig stralend,
Verhieße dir eine Gehaltzulage
Von hundert Thalern Preußisch Courant,
Und du stammeltest händefaltend:
"Gelobt sei Jesu Christ!"

 

The sun stood high in the heavens
Swathed in white clouds;
The sea was still.
I lay in the helm of the vessel,
Dreamily musing … When, half awake
And half asleep, I saw the Christ,
The Saviour of the world.
In a white, waving garment
He walked, tall as a giant,
Over land and sea.
His head rose into the heavens,
His hands were stretched in blessing
Over land and sea;
And, like a heart in his breast,
He carried the sun,
The great, red, burning sun.
And that flaming heart, that fiery splendor,
Poured all its hallowed sunbeams,
And all its tender, compassionate light,
Wide-spread and warming,
Over land and sea.

Clear and happy bells were ringing,
Drawing on the gliding vessel;
Drew, like swans with ropes of roses,
Lightly to a fair, green harbor
Where men lived in a lofty, towering
Sky-scraping city.

Wonder of peace! How quiet the town!
The cries and the clamor were hushed;
The clatter of trade was over.
And, through the clean-swept, echoing streets,
Men in white raiment wandered
Carrying palm-branches.
And where two met in that city,
They gazed at each other with understanding,
And, thrilling with love and a sweet abegnation,
Kissed each other on the brow.
And both looked up
At the glowing heart of the Saviour
That joyfully sacrificed its red blood
In streams of ruddy light.
And they, thrice-blest, would cry,
“Praise be to Jesus Christ!”

 

*  *  *

 

If such a conception would have been granted to you,

What would you have given,

Dearly belovèd brother!

You who are so weak in the head and the loins

And so strong in the faith!

You who worship the Trinity so religiously

And kiss the cross and the pup and the paw

Of your noble protectress daily.

You who talked yourself into the council

And a place on the bench

And, at last, to a part in the governing

Of that virtuous city,

Where dust and faith arise,

And the long-suffering Spree, with its holy waters,

Washes the souls and dilutes the tea of the faithful--

Had you but conceived this vision,

Dearly belovèd,

You would have taken it to market and offered it in high places.

Your white, simpering features

Would melt with devotion;

And the high and mighty lady,

Enraptured and trembling with bliss,

Would sink, praying, on her knees beside you.

And her eyes, beaming with happiness,

Would promise you an increase of salary

Of a hundred sterling Prussian dollars.

And you would fold your hands and stammer,

"Praise be to Jesus Christ!"


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