BWV 198 Laß, Fürstin, laß noch einen Strahl Trauerode

Funeral of Queen Christiane Eberhardine of Saxony, wife of the Elector Augustus II.

Johann Christoph Gottsched; PT (Leipzig, 1727); Facs: Neumann T, p. 396; Reprint (Leipzig, 1728); also in Sicul, Das Thränende Leipzig, (Leipzig, 1727); Annales Lipsienses, Sectio XXXI (1730); Oden der Deutschen Gesellschafft (new ed. 1728); Facs: Neumann T, p. 366.

17 October 1727, Leipzig; Parody: 1, 3, 5, 8, 10 → St. Mark Passion, BWV 247/1, 49, 27, 59, 131; 1, 10 → BWV 244a/1, 7. BG 13, 3: NBA I/38.

Funeral Ode

First Part

1. Chorus (S, A, T, B)

Let, Princess, let still one more beam
Shoot forth from Salem's starry heavens.
And see how much tearful gushing
We pour around thy monument.

2. Recit. (S)

Thy Saxons, like thy saddened Meissen,(1)
Stand numb beside thy royal tomb;
The eye doth weep, the tongue cries out:
My pain can be without description!
Here mourn August(2) and Prince and land,
The nobles moan, the commons sorrow,
How much for thee thy folk lamented
As soon as it thy fall perceived!

3. Aria (S)

Be mute, be mute, ye lovely lyres!

    No sound could to the nations' woe
    At their dear cherished mother's death,
    O painful word!, give meet expression.

4. Recit. (A)

The tolling of the trembling bells
Shall our lamenting souls' great terror
Through their rebounding bronze awaken
And pierce us to the very core.
Oh, would that now this anxious peeling,
Which on our ears each day doth shrill,
To all the European world
A witness of our grief might render!

5. Aria (A)

How died our heroine content!

    How valiantly her spirit struggled,
    For her the arm of death did vanquish
    Before it did her breast subdue.

6. Recit. (T)

Her living let the art of dying
With ever steadfast skill be seen;
It would have been impossible
Before her death that she grow pallid.
Ah, blesséd he whose noble soul
Doth raise itself above our nature,
At crypt and coffin doth not tremble,
When him his maker calls to part.

7. Chorus (S,A,T,B)

In thee, thou model of great women,
In thee, illustrious royal queen,
In thee, thou keeper of the faith,
The form of kindness was to witness.

Second Part

8. Aria (T)

Eternity’s sapphiric house,
O Princess, these thy cheerful glances
From our own low estate are taking
And blot out earth’s corrupted form.
A brilliant light a hundred suns make,
Which doth our day to mid of night
And doth our sun to darkness turn,
Hath thy transfigured head surrounded.

9. Recit.—Arioso —Recit. (B)

What wonder this? This thou hast earned,
Thou model of all queens forever!
For thou wast meant to win the glory
Which hath transfigured now thy head.
Before the lamb’s own throne thou wearest
Instead of purple’s vanity
A pearl-white robe of purity
And scornest now the crown forsaken.
As far the brimming Vistula,
The Dniester and the Warth are flowing,
As far the Elb’ and Muld’ are streaming,
They praise thee / both the / town and land.
Thy Torgau(3) walketh now in mourning,
Thy Pretzsch(4) is weary, pale and weak;
For with the loss it hath in thee,
It loseth all it vision's rapture.

10. Chorus ultimus (S, A, T, B)

No, royal queen! Thou shalt not die;
We see in thee our great possession;
Posterity shall not forget thee,
Till all this universe shall fall.
Ye poets, write! For we would read it:
She hath been virtue's property
Her loyal subjects' joy and fame,
Of royal queens the crown and glory.

1. The southernmost of three towns on the Elbe with its tributary Mulde.

2. Pronounce with the accent on the second syllable, as in German.

3. A town of Saxony on the Elbe.

4. Another town on the Elbe, down river from Torgau, halfway to Wittenberg.

© Copyright  Z. Philip Ambrose

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