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English translation of Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge

October 28, 2010

Christ on the Mount of Olives

Jesus

Recitative and Aria

Jehovah, Thou my Father, as Thou hast power, give me strength to bear!

Now in this hour sorrowful is my grief.  I have glorified Thee.  Even before Thy command, from chaos the world was formed. The voices of Thy seraphs now thunder commanding him who dies for men alone to stand before Thy judgment seat.  O Father!  I will appear at his call, to intercede with Thee, to atone, I alone, for guilty man.  How can this feeble race, from dusted created, ever know the feeling that I, Thy only Son, must now endure?  Ah, see the pangs that throb my heart!  My soul is faint, my Father!  See how my heart does throb.  O pity me!

My whole soul within me trembles, From the torture drawing near.  O behold me, see me tremble.  See the pain that fills my soul.  How my heart is full of sorrow.  With the thought of deathly pain.  Drops of blood and sweat of torment, From my forehead fall like rain.  Father!  O glorify Thou me, With the glory that is Thine, And the power if Thou are willing;  Take away this cup from me.

Seraph and Chorus

Recitative and Aria

The Seraph spoke thus:  This is Jehovah’s son.  Behold him!  In the earth he lies;  for his Father now hath left him enduring terrible sorrow.  The Holy One has now prepared to die a bitter death for sinners; a willing saviour to save a cruel world, to a life everlasting.  Thus man lives eternally.

Prize the Redeemer’s goodness; All men prize His grace.  He dies in loving kindness to save your guilty race.  O praise Him, great Redeemer.  Your Saviour sacrificed.  To man He brings salvation Through faith, with hope of life.  To those dishonouring his sacrifice of blood, God shall condemn them all;  His judgement is their lot.

Jesus

Recitative

Abba, my Father, O declare!  Take away in this hour all my fear.  Nevertheless, not what I will, but Thine.

Seraph

So spake Jehovah: The curse remains on man until atonement is made by shedding blood.  The law must be fulfilled or man is lost; When this debt is paid, man will live forever.

Jesus and Seraph

Duet

On me then falls this heavy burden.  Its weight, O
Father, help me bear; On me now falls the weight of anguish.  If Thou will mankind’s children spare.

Behold the Saviour!  How he trembles!  What heavy sorrows he sustains; Such weighty burdens fall upon him; A world of grief and heavy pains.  Though great the pain, the grief, the terror, From God’s own justice on Him hurled, Yet greater far the love and mercy All used to save a woeful world!

Jesus

Recitative

O welcome, death, which I must suffer, for man’s salvation, on the cross.  O, ye who in cold graves are sleeping, in eternal sleep deep in its grasp holds fast, henceforth awake to joy and bliss.  Awaken.

Soldiers

We surely here shall find him.  We’ll take him and we’ll find him.  Although he tries to fly, Tomorrow he will die!

Jesus

Recitative

They now approach the great Redeemer, who prays to heaven; O Father, do let the heavy hours of pain pass O’er me soon; let them fly like the swift winds as it pushes a storm quickly across the sky.  Yet, not my will be done; Thine only be accomplished.

Soldiers

Now, traitor, we will tie thee and punish thee at last, Thou self-styled King of Jewry, we’ll seize and bind thee fast!

Disciples

What noise is this around us?  Our deadly foes have found us!  With soldiers cruel on high, O whither can we fly?

Peter

Recitative

We cannot thus allow our Lord be harmed and stand aside.  Our Lord, Our Friend and Master!  I must assay to leave Thee.

Jesus

O, let the sword remain within its sheath.  Were it the will of my heavenly Father to save this head from foes who wish to harm it, Legions of o’erpowering Angels with orders straight from Heaven would come.

Peter

Trio

My beating heart is angry; with rage o’erpowering it grows.  Let vengeance now be sated on impious, cruel foes!

Jesus

Let vengeance come from Heaven!  Did not our Master say:  Forgive and love each other; let good for ill repay.

Seraph

Inspired words are spoken above all human code.  Heaven bids be loving, in all ways, bids our God!

Jesus and Seraph

What heavenly joys await them who listen to his word; to love the foes that hate them, ‘Tis thus to please the Lord!

Soldiers

Quick, seize and bind this arrant traitor; Let’s here no longer stay.  Death to the arch imposter!  Let’s drag him hence away.

Disciples

O, how our Lord is hated, cruelly treated, dragged on high.  We’ll now join him in his bondage, doomed to anguish, doomed to die.

Jesus

Now transgressors, see him wounded!  My redemption work is done!  Powers of Hell are now confounded and the fight will soon be won.

Chorus

Glorious worlds above us spire,

Happy Seraphs sing your joys.

Man, join in the holy choir,

Hail the great Redeemer’s praise.

Source

Anonymous translation. LP record, Ludwig van Beethoven: Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85.  World Record Club, T 406, 1962?

The translation is probably from the 19th c.

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