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Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)

11 Sep 20 - 11:41 AM (#4071539)
Subject: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

This opening post will not submit the lyrics set to music by Brahms just yet;
my intention is to frame this Lied, this German art song, before posting the text.

In fact there are two traditions, textually speaking, being woven together by Brahms in order to compose this song.

"Wiegenlied" of course means cradle song, or lullaby.
And no, this is not the well-known Brahms Lullaby,
it is a different song altogether.

To be specific:
Opus 91, no. 2, by Johannes Brahms, is composed for
mezzo-soprano solo voice and piano, with a fiendishly difficult obbligato for solo viola.
NOT violin, which would complement a high soprano voice;
for the deeper, earthier sound of a woman's mezzo-soprano or contralto voice,
Brahms rejected the violin in favor of the viola
which is lower in pitch and richer in tone.

The words initially sung by the solo singer are:
"Die ihr schwebet um diese Palmen in Nacht und Wind,
Ihr heil'gen Engel,
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind."

This is poet Emanuel [von] Geibel's translation of a text,
dated somewhere near the year 1600 AD, attributed to Lope Felix de Vega, and originally
in Spanish:

"Pues andáis en las palmas,
Ángeles santos,
Que se duerme mi niño,
Tened los ramos."
There are a total of three verses and a single chorus which varies slightly in the text at the end of each verse.

Brahms does not include, in his Geistliches Wiegenlied,
the text for any other lullaby; but if you see the musical score,
you will notice words printed at the beginning that are not used,
and they are directly in the score, under the viola part.

The reason for this, is that
the viola, not only at the opening of the song but
at regular intervals between every verse and at the very end,
is directed, by Brahms, to play
the MUSIC, the melody, of an old German carol ("Altes Lied"):

"Josef, lieber Josef mein,
Hilf mir wieg'n mein Kind'lein fein,
Gott der wird dein Lohner sein,
Im Himmelsreich der Jungfrau Sohn, Maria, Maria."

That is not the entire melody/text, only the beginning, and that
is the only part that Brahms borrows; he does not set the part
that goes
"Eia! Eia!" and continues to the end of the carol lyric,
also very melodic and easy on the ear.

The carol lyric excerpt, as I have submitted it in this post,
is copied exactly from Opus 91, no.2, from the score
by Johannes Brahms.
Again, the solo singer never sings these words,
but the viola player plays the first part of the carol melody.

11 Sep 20 - 09:07 PM (#4071574)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

A little more attention to the Christmas carol
which, in Brahms' art song (op 91 no. 2),
is never sung,
but is musically quoted by the viola part without words.

August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, in his
Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenliedes bis auf Luthers Zeit (Hannover, 1854),
prints out all the verses for this carol text (not the music though). Hoffmann von Fallersleben gives as his source for this lyric,
a manuscript in Munich which specifies
"Lieder des Mönchs von Salzburg" (no religious order specified).

Here are the verses as Hoffmann von Fallersleben quotes them.

Joseph lieber neve mein
hilf mir wigen mein kindelein,
daß got müeß dein loner sein
in himelreich,
die reine mait Maria.

Gerne, liebe mueme mein
ich hilf dir wigen dein kindelein,
daß got müeß mein loner sein
in himelreich,
du reine mait Maria.

Es solten alle menschen zwar
mit ganzen freuden komen dar,
da man fint der selen nar,
die uns gebar
die reine mait Maria.

Uns ist geborn Emanuel,
als vor gekünt hat Gabriel,
des ist gezeug Ezechiel,
o frones el,
dich hat geborn Maria.

Ewiger vater, ewigs wort,
got vater mensch, der tugende hort
in himel, in erde, hie und dort,
der sälden port,
den uns gebar Maria.

O süeßer Jesus außerkorn,
du weißt wol daß wir warn verlorn,
süen uns deines vater zorn,
dich hat geborn
die reine mait Maria.

O kleines kint, o großer got,
du leidest in der krippen not,
der sunder hie verhandelt hot
der himel brot,
das uns gebar Maria.

-- pages 417 - 418, from
chapter 11: Weihnachtslieder beim Kindelwiegen,
Geschichte des deutschen Kirchenliedes bis auf Luthers Zeit

I have to remark, here, that
I suspect that the editor, Hoffmann von Fallersleben,
actually modernized somewhat the spelling of the text --
German which is as antiquated as this
looks even further removed from present-day spelling.
The preceding is supposed to be many centuries old.

As for the tune, quoted by Brahms?
This recording, although the words differ in places,
gives a close similarity to the tune used by Brahms,
and it is performed with medieval German pronunciation
using authentic instrumentation;
even the rhythm is closer to medieval dance rhythms.
I cannot discover much about this particular recording --
perhaps other Mudcatters can do better? here it is:

Joseph liber neve myn ("Weihnachten im Mittelalter")

11 Sep 20 - 09:20 PM (#4071575)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

Looking around a little deeper for the source
of the recording linked to in the previous post.

That link goes to an album anthology
with many different ensembles performing,
the tracks come from diverse other sources.

"Joseph liber neve myn" appears to come from a group called
"Ioculatores" and their album
"frofro," dated 2001, on a German label called Raumklang,
distributed by Harmonia Mundi.

11 Sep 20 - 09:57 PM (#4071577)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

So much for the antique Christmas Carol from Austria/Germany/Central Europe.

Now, Lope de Vega. The Spanish quoted in the opening post
is from a "villancico" within a longer work
written for Navidad/Christmas.
Before submitting Lope de Vega's actual Spanish text,
this link goes to a recording
of an actor reading the Spanish words.

La niña a quien dijo el Ángel . . . Pues andáis en las palmas, ángeles santos

05 Oct 20 - 07:26 PM (#4074442)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

If the Spanish in this post is odd-looking, well,
it dates from 1617, when spellings were a bit different
(consider what Shakespeare's English editions look like).

Here is the original by Lope de Vega, which is part of a larger work,
Shepherds of Bethlehem
Pastores de Belén;
the little verse itself has no title.

Pues andays en las palmas
Ángeles santos,
Que se duerme mi Niño,
Tened los ramos.

Palmas de Belén,
Que muevan ayrados
Los furiosos vientos,
Que suenan tanto.
No le hagays ruydo
Corred mas paso,
Que se duerme mi Niño,
Tened los ramos.

El Niño divino,
Que está cansado
De llorar en la tierra
Por su descanso
Sosegar quiere un poco
Del tierno llanto,
Que se duerme mi Niño,
Tened los ramos.

Rigurosos yelos
Le están cercando,
Ya veys que no tengo
Con qué guardarlo.
Ángeles divinos,
Que vays volando,
Que se duerme mi Niño,
Tened los ramos.

from Pastores de Belén. Prosas y Versos Divinos, by Lope de Vega, published in Lérida in 1617. Appears in Libro tercero, page 234.

09 Oct 20 - 10:15 AM (#4074834)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: Charmion

I have sung the Brahms version for more than forty years, and I always assumed he had adapted it from a much older folk song.

What is your connection to it, keb? Do you sing it, or play the viola part you refer to?

09 Oct 20 - 11:21 AM (#4074849)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: Monique

Here is the original text by Lope de Vega.

09 Oct 20 - 07:26 PM (#4074907)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

My specialty is piano accompaniments.
My lead-in to opening this specific thread
is in my earlier thread,
"My first performance in thirty years."

I played piano in a little chamber ensemble,
as documented in that thread,
which turned Schubert's Trout Quintet
into a Trout Quartet (we lacked a string bass).
Then our violinist went back to university for fall semester,
and what we had left was a Trout Trio.
At the same time, we were making music with a chorus director
who sings baritone and bass-baritone voice.

Because our Trout Trio still has
a piano (me) and a viola (my colleague here),
it was the baritone singer's idea that
we should look at the Brahms Viola Lieder.

(We left the cello to fend for himself.)

So I am playing Brahms's piano accompaniment
while my friend plays the viola
and the chorus director sings the vocal part.

I ought to look further at the research and writing of others
to see if they have traced,
in the singer's melody composed by Brahms,
something derived from traditional/folk sources in the melody.

All I am personally aware of is
that the viola part has that folksong melody in it,
which the viola normally plays when as a solo,
when the singer is silent.

10 Oct 20 - 07:14 PM (#4075074)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

Here is the German translation of the Spanish "villancico" lyric
posted earlier in this thread.
The Spanish author was the great playwright Lope de Vega;
the German translator is
the 19th-century poet, Emanuel Geibel (sometimes, von Geibel).

Together with a fellow German poet, Paul Heyse,
Geibel collaborated on volumes of German translations of
lyrics and sonnets in both Spanish ("Spanisches")
and Italien ("Italienisches").

Geibel's German translation, like Lope de Vega's Spanish original,
has no title of its own.

(lyrics to Brahms's Geistliches Wiegenlied)

Die ihr schwebet
Um diese Palmen
In Nacht und Wind,
Ihr heil'gen Engel,
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.

Ihr Palmen von Bethlehem
Im Windesbrausen,
Wie mögt ihr heute
So zornig sausen!
O rauscht nicht also!
Schweiget, neiget
Euch leis' und lind;
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.

Der Himmelsknabe
Duldet Beschwerde;
Ach, wie so müd' er ward
Vom Leid der Erde.
Ach, nun in Schlaf ihm
Leise gesänftigt
Die Qual zerrinnt,
Stille die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.

Grimmige Kälte
Sauset hernieder,
Womit nur deck' ich
Des Kindleins Glieder!
O all ihr Engel,
Dir ihr geflügelt
Wandelt im Wind,
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.

   --   pages 8 - 9, Spanishes Liederbuch, Berlin: Verlag von Wilhelm Herz, 1852. Appears in Geistliche Lieder, no. 4.

21 Oct 20 - 05:59 PM (#4076355)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Geistliches Wiegenlied (Brahms)
From: keberoxu

The music will sound different here, so be forewarned,
as this is a different composer.
The composer is Hugo Wolf.
And this setting of the same German text
is refreshingly different if you need to hear something new.

Mezzo-soprano Jan de Gaetani sings Wolf's "Die ihr schwebet um diese Palmen"