BWV 208 Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!


Birthday of Prince Christian von Sachsen-Weißenfels (23 February).

Salomo Franck, Geist- und Weltlicher Poesien Zweyter Theil (Jena 1716); Facs: Neumann T, p. 288.

1713, near Weißenfels; Parody: → BWV 208a; 7 → BWV 68/4; 13 →  BWV 68/2 and Cantata V/5; 15 → BWV 149/1 and Cantata V/7.

BG 29; NBA I/35.

Hunting Cantata

Diana (S1), Endymion (T), Pan (B), Pales(1)(S2)

1. Recit. (S1) Diana

My only joy
Is in the merry hunt!
E'en ere Aurora gloweth,
E'en ere toward heaven she doth strive,
Hath this my dart already found its pleasing booty.!

2. Aria (S1) Diana

Hunting is the gods' true pleasure,
Hunting suits the heroes well!

    Yield now, of my nymphs all scorners,
    Yield now from Diana's course!

3. Recit. (T) Endymion

What, fairest goddess? What?
Know'st thou no more thine erstwhile boon companion?
Hast thou not thine Endymion
Amidst his soft repose(2)
So many dulcet kisses offered?
Art thou then, fairest, now
From love's tight bonds released,
Pursuing now nought but the chase?

4. Aria (T) Endymion

Wouldst thou then no more take pleasure
In the meshes,
Those by Amor laid?

    Where we too, when once we're captured,
    At our leisure,
    Joy and love in bonds have plied.

5. Recit. (S1, T) Diana, Endymion

I love thee even still!
But yet
Today a lofty light appeareth,
Which I before all else
Must with my loving kiss
Now greet and give my service!
The worthy Christian, / Ernst August,(3)/
The woodlands' Pan,
May in most welcome fortune's favor
His high foundation's feast(4) now witness!

Then grant me this,
Diana, that I may here now
Be thy companion
As we a joyous off'ring kindle.

Yes, yes! We'll bring our flames of fervor
With glad good wishes now together!

6. Recit. (B) Pan

I, who am wont a god
Amongst these fields to be,
I'll now lay down my shepherd's staff
And here to Christian's ruling scepter yield,
For this illustrious Pan his land so happy maketh,
That wood and field and all are live with laughter!

7. Aria (B) Pan

A prince is his own country's Pan!
Just as the body lacking spirit
No life or animation hath,
So is that land a deadman's-hollow
Which lacking head and prince exists
And thus its finest part doth miss.

8. Recit. (S2) Pales

Shall then the offering of Pales be the last?
No, no!
I will by duty also render,
And, while the whole wide land with "Vivat" rings,
Now, too, this lovely field
In honor of our Saxon lord
To joy and mirth awaken.(5)

9. Aria (S2) Pales

Sheep may ever graze securely
Where a worthy shepherd wakes.

    Where the rulers well are ruling,
    May one rest and peace discover
    And what nations blissful makes.

10. Recit. (S1) Diana

Then join the song
And to the day's delight perfection bring!

11. Chorus (S, A, T, B) All Four

Live, O sun of this our earth now,
While Diana doth by night

    On the tow'r of heaven watch,
    While the woodlands change with verdure,
    Live, O sun of this our earth now.

12. Aria (S1, T) Diana, Endymion

Enchant ye us both now,

    Ye rays of great gladness,
    And deck ye the heavens with diamonds and jewels.
    Prince Christian nurture
    On loveliest roses and free of all sadness.

13. Aria (S2) Pales

While the herds all woolly-coated
Through this widely honored field
Merrily to mead are driven,
Flourish this great Saxon lord!

14. Aria (B) Pan

Ye pastures and meadows,
Make green your appearance,
Shout "Vivat" abroad!

    Long life to the Duke both in plenty and peace!

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

Ye loveliest glances, ye hours delighted,
To you be good fortune forever united!

    May heaven now crown you with sweetest of joy!
    Long life to Prince Christian! May he ever know
    How hearts are contented,
    How sadness defeated!
    (Addition strophe)
    [May charm now embrace them, may fortune now serve them,
    The Duke and his Lady Luise Christine!
    Let them graze with gladness on clover and bud,
    Let sparkle this jewel, the prince's fair bride,
    This second Dione(6),
    Prince Christian's corona.7]

1. Pales was a shepherd divinity, honored on April 21 in the Parilia or Palilia, the feast of the founding of Rome (cf. Ovid, Fasti 4. 721ff.). Salomo Franck seems to have taken notice of this by referring to Christian's birthday celebration as his Ursprungsfest in Movement 5. See also BWV 208a, footnote 1.

2. This alludes to Endymion's everlasting sleep. Cf. Apollodorus, I. 56 and Pausanias, 5. 1. 5.

3. In the OP the name Christian is crossed out and replaced by Ernst August for a performance of this cantata at the Weimar Court, probably in 1716.

4. See footnote 1, above on the Parilia of Rome.

5. Pales means that hers will not be the last offering to Christian, for she will stir the very fields to pay him honor also. She does not address the fields, however, until Movement 13. In 14 Pan also calls upon the fields to bless Christian.

6. Dione is the consort of Zeus of Dodona, the mother of Aphrodite and sometimes identified with Aphrodite herself. Cf. Homer, Iliad 5. 370 and Ovid, Amores I. 14. 33.

7. In brackets is the supplemental verse added in the OP, perhaps for a performance for Christian and his wife.

© Copyright Z. Philip Ambrose

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