German and English texts of Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge

 The German text is in bold.  The names of characters and the number descriptions are given in English only.  The English text is followed by the German text.

Christ on the Mount of Olives

Christus am Ölberge

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!

Jehovah, du mein Vater’ o sende Trost und Kraft und Stärke mir!  Sie nahet nun, doe Stunde meiner Leiden, von mir erkoren schon, noch eh’ die welt auf dein Geheiss dem Chaos sich entwand.  Ich höre deines Seraphs Donnerstimme.  Sie fordert auf, wer statt der Menschen sich vor dein Gericht jetzt stellen will.  O Vater!  Ich erschein’ auf deiner Ruf.  Vermittler will ich sein, ich büsse, ich allein, der Menschen Schuld.  Wie könnte dies Geschlecht, aus Staub gebildet , ein Gericht ertragen, das mich deinen Sohn, zu Boden drückt?  Ach sich’, wie Bangigkeit, wie Todesangst mein Herz mit Macht ergrieft!  Ich leide sehr, mein Vater!  o sieh’, erbarm’ dich mein!

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.

Meine Seele ist erschüttert von den Quallen die mir dräu’n; Schrecken fasst mich, und es zittert grässlich schaudernd mein Gebein.  Wie ein Fieberfrost ergreifet mich die Angst beim nahen Grab, und von meinem Antlitz träufet, statt des Schweisses, Blut herab, Vater!  Tief gebeugt und kläglich fleht dein Sohn hinauf zu dir!  Deiner Macht ist Alles möglich; nimm den Leidenskelch von mir!

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.

Erzitt’re, Erde!  Jehovah Sohn liegt hier, sein Antlitz lief in Staub gedrückt, vom Vater ganz verlassen, und leidet unnennbare Qual.  Der Gütige!  Er ist bereit, den martervollsten Tod zu sterben, damit die Menschen, die er liebt, vom Tode aufer stehen und ewig, ewig leben.

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.

Preist des Erlösers Güte, preist, Menschen, seine Huld!  Er stirbt für euch aus Liebe, sein Blut tilgt eure Schuld, O Heil euch ihr Erlösten!  Euch winket Seligkeit, wenn ihr getreu in Liebe, in Glaub’ und Hoffnung seid, Doch weh!  Die frech entehren das Blut, das für sie floss, sie trifft der Fluch des Richters, Verdammung ist ihr Loos.

Jesus

Recitative

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

Verkündet, Seraph, mir dein Mund Erbarmen meines ew’gen Vaters?

Nimmt er des Todes Schrecknisse von mir?

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.

So spricht Jehovah: Eh’ nicht erfüllet ist das heilige Geheimniss der Versöhnung, so lange bleibt das menschliche Geschlecht verworfen und beraubt des ew’gen Lebens.

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.

So ruhe denn mit ganzer Schwere, auf mir, mein Vater, dein Gericht.  Giess’ uber mich den Strom der Leiden, nur zürne Adams Kindern night.

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!

Erschuttert sch’ich den Erhab’nen, in Todesleiden eingehüllt.  Ich bebe, und mich selbst umwehen die Grabesschauer, die er fühlt.  Gross sind die Qual, die Angst, die Schrecken, die Gottes Hand auf ihn ergiesst: dosh grösser ist noch seine Liebe, mit der sein Herz die Welt umschliesst!

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.

Willkommen, Tod, den ich am Kreuze zum Heil der Menschheit blutend sterbe!  O seid in eurer kühlen Gruft gesegnet, die ein ew’erg Schlaf in seinen Armen hält; ihr werdet froh zur Seligkeit erwachen.

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!

Wir haben ihn gesehen nach diesem Berge gehen, entfliehen kann er nicht, ja, seiner wartet das Gericht.

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.

Die mich zu fangen ausgezogen sind, die nahen nun.  Mein Vater!  O fuhr in schnellem Flug der Leiden.  Stunden an mir vorüber, dass sie flieh’n, rasch, wie die Wolken, die ein sturmwind treibt, an deinem Himmein zieh’n.  Doch nicht mein Wille; dein Wille nur geschehe.

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!

Hier ist er, der Verbannte, der sich im Volke kühn, der Juden Konig mannte; ergrieft und bindet ihn!

Disciples

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

Was soll der Lärm bedeuten?  Es ist um uns geschehen!  Umringt von rauhen Kriegern, wie wird es unsergehn?

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.

Nicht ungestraft soll der Verweg’nen Schaar dich Herrlichen, dich meinen Freund und Meister, mit frecher Hand ergriefen.

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.

O lass dein Schwert in seiner Scheide ruh’n!  Wenn es der Wille meines Vaters wäre, aus der Gewalt der Feinde mich zu reten, so würden Legionen Engel bereit zu meiner Rettung sein.

Peter

Trio

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

In meinen Adern wuhlen gchtereer Zorn und Wuth, lass meine Rache kühlen, in der Verweg’nen Blut.

Jesus

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

Du solist nicht Rache üben!  Rache uben!  Ich lehrt’ euch blos allein die Menschen alle lieben, dem Feinde gern verzeih’n.

Seraph

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

Merk’ auf, o Mensch, und höre: Nur eines Gottes Mund macht solche heil’g Lehre der Nächstenliebe kund.

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!

O menschenkinder, fasset dies heilige Gebot; Liebt jenen, der euch hasset, nur so gefallt ihr Gott.

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.

Auf!  ergreifet den Verräther, weilet hier nun länger nicht!  Fort jetzt mit dem Missethäter, schleppt ihn schleunig vor Gericht.

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.

Ach, wir werden seinetwegan auch gehasst, verfolget sein!  Man wird uns in Bande legen martern und dem Tode weih’n.

Jesus

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

Mein Qual ist bald verschwunden, der Erlösung Werk vollbracht, bald ist gänzlich überwunden und besiegt der Hölle Macht.

Chorus

Glorious worlds above us spire,

Happy Seraphs sing your joys.

Man, join in the holy choir,

Hail the great Redeemer’s praise.

Welten singen Dank und Ehre dem

erhab’nem, Gottes Sohn,

Preiset ihn, ihr Englechöre,

laut im heil’gen, Jubelton!

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 nineteenth century.

11 thoughts on “German and English texts of Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge

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  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for providing this translation, I’ve yet to find any other online; and what it shame it would be not able to really appreciate this work in my native tongue. Of course it’s the prose which makes this piece so significant both for man in general, and what Bethoven’s convictions must have been.

    Reply
  3. Henry S

    The translation seems incorrect when it comes to Jesus’ line “Verkündet, Seraph, mir dein Mund Erbarmen meines ew’gen Vaters? Nimmt er des Todes Schrecknisse von mir?” Jesus is addressing the Seraph, not addressing God as “Abba..” Google Translate renders the second sentence “Does he take death’s horrors from me?” Nothing seems to correspond to “Nevertheless, not what I will, but Thine.” Jesus says that in the Bible, but not at this point in the oratorio.

    Reply
    1. Bro Yew

      Henry, I’m presently working on translating this piece myself, word-for-word. I too have also found that the translation featured on this page in many instances that are not in the original libretto. So far I have the trio and the first recitative. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in what I’m doing, sdrake088@gmail.com.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: June 14 – CCL: Lunch with Beethoven

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  6. brainstormtool

    Another one done by Google translate all in one piece.

    1. Introduction (Grave – Adagio), Recitative and Aria (Allegro)
    Recitative (Jesus)
    Jehovah, you my father! O send comfort and strength and strength to me! It is now approaching, the hour of my suffering, already chosen by me, before the world escaped chaos at your behest. I hear your seraph’s voice of thunder. She asks who instead of the people wants to stand before your court now. O father! I appear on this call. I want to be a mediator, I atone, I alone, the fault of men. How could this generation formed from dust endure a judgment that will crush me, your son, to the ground! Oh look, how dread, how fear of death seizes my heart with power! I am suffering greatly, my father! Oh look! I’m suffering a lot, have mercy on me!

    Aria (Jesus)
    My soul is shaken
    by the torments that are threatening me.
    Terror seizes me, and
    my bones tremble terribly, shuddering.
    Fear grips me like a chill
    at the near grave,
    and blood drips from my face
    instead of sweat.
    Father! Deeply bowed and pitiful,
    your son begs up to you:
    Everything is possible to your power,
    take the chalice of suffering from me.
    My soul is shaken
    by the torments that are threatening me.
    And
    instead of sweat, blood drips from my face.

    2. Recitative, Aria (Larghetto) and Chorus
    Recitative (Seraph)
    Tremble, earth! Jehovah’s son lies here, his face pressed deep in dust, quite forsaken by his father, and suffers inexpressible torment. The good one! He is willing to die the most agonizing death so that the people he loves may rise from the dead and live forever!

    Aria (Seraph)
    Praise the goodness of the Redeemer,
    praise, O men, his mercy!
    He dies for you out of love,
    his blood redeems your debt.

    Seraph and choir of angels
    Hail to you, you redeemed ones,
    bliss beckons you
    if you are faithful in love,
    in faith and hope.
    But alas! Those who boldly dishonor the blood that
    flowed for
    them, the curse of the judge falls on them,
    damnation is their lot.

    3. Recitative and duet (Adagio molto)
    Recitative (Jesus)
    Does your mouth tell me, Seraph, the mercy of my eternal Father?
    Does he take the terrors of death from me?

    Recitative (Seraph)
    Thus says Jehovah: Until the holy mystery of atonement is fulfilled, the human race will remain rejected and robbed of eternal life.

    Duet (Jesus and Seraph)
    Jesus

    So, my father, rest your judgment on me with all your weight.
    Pour the river of suffering on me, only do not be angry with Adam’s children!

    seraph

    I am shaken to see the sublime wrapped in mortal agony.
    I tremble, and the grave shivers he feels blow about me.

    Jesus, Seraph

    Great is the torment, the fear, the terror that God’s hand pours out on me/him,
    but greater still is my/his love with which my/his heart encloses the world.

    4. Recitative and choir (Alla marcia)
    Recitative (Jesus)
    Welcome, death, I
    die bleeding on the cross for the salvation of mankind!
    O be blessed in your cool tomb,
    which an eternal sleep holds in its arms,
    you will wake up happy to bliss!

    Choir of Warriors
    We have seen him
    go to this mountain,
    he cannot escape,
    judgment awaits him.

    5. Recitative (Tempo della Marcia) and Choir (Allegro molto)
    Recitative (Jesus)
    Those who went out to catch me are now drawing near. My father! O bring hours of suffering past me in swift flight, so that they flee, swiftly, like the clouds driven by a storm wind across your skies. But not my will, no, your will only be done.

    Choir of Warriors
    Here he is, the exile who
    boldly
    called himself King of the Jews among the people,
    seize him and bind him!

    Choir of Disciples
    What is the noise supposed to mean?
    It’s about us!
    Surrounded by rough warriors,
    how will we fare?
    Have mercy, oh have mercy!
    It’s about us!

    6. Recitative, trio and chorus (Allegro ma non troppo), final chorus (Maestoso – Allegro)
    Recitative (Peter)
    The bold crowd should not go unpunished to seize you, my friend and master,
    with a cheeky hand.

    Recitative (Jesus)
    O let thy sword rest in its scabbard! If it were my father’s will to save me from the power of my enemies, legions of angels would be ready to save me.

    trio
    Peter

    Righteous anger and rage churn in my veins.
    Let my revenge cool in the bold blood!

    Jesus

    Thou shalt not avenge! I just teach you alone,
    love everyone, gladly forgive the enemy!

    seraph

    Pay attention, oh man, and listen: Only the mouth of a god proclaims
    such holy teaching of neighborly love.

    Seraph, Jesus, Peter

    O children of men, understand this holy commandment:
    Love him who hates you, only in this way will you please God!

    Choir of Warriors
    up, up! Seize the traitor,
    do not tarry here any longer.
    Away now with the culprit,
    hurry him to court!

    Choir of Disciples
    Oh! We will
    also be hated and persecuted because of him.
    They will bind us,
    torture us, and consecrate us to death.

    Jesus
    My torment will soon be gone,
    the work of redemption will be accomplished,
    soon it will be completely overcome
    and the power of hell conquered!

    Chorus of Angels
    Worlds sing thanks and honor
    to the sublime Son of God.
    Praise him, you choirs of angels,
    loudly in holy jubilation!

    Reply

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