Sunday, July 15, 2012





The Omnipotence

Great is Jehovah, the Lord!  For heaven
and earth testify to his great power.
‘Tis heard the fierce raging storm,
In the torrent’s loud thundering roar.
Great is Jehovah, the Lord! Mighty His Power!
‘Tis heard in the rustling of leaves in the forest;
Seen in the waving of golden fields,
Midst loveliest flowers’ gaudy array,
‘Tis seen in myriad stars of heaven.
Fierce it sounds in the thunder’s loud roll,
And flames in the lightning's terrible swift flash!
Yet still more perceptible, your beating heart proclaims
The power of God, of the eternal God,
When you look up in prayer in hope for grace and mercy.
Great is Jehovah the Lord! Great is Jehovah the Lord!
~ Freely translated
Die Allmacht
Groß ist Jehova, der Herr! Denn Himmel
Und Erde verkünden seine Macht.
Du hörst sie im brausenden Sturm,
In des Waldstroms laut aufrauschendem Ruf.
Groß ist Jehova, der Herr! Groß ist seine Macht!
Du hörst sie im grünenden Waldes Gesäusel;
Siehst sie in wogender Saaten Gold,
In lieblicher Blumen glühendem Schmelz,
Im Glanz des [stern'erhelleten]1 Himmels!
Furchtbar tönt sie im Donnergeroll
Und flammt in des Blitzes schnell hinzuckendem Flug.
Doch kündet das pochende Herz dir fühlbarer noch
Jehovas Macht, des ewigen Gottes,
Blickst du flehend empor und [hoff'st von ihm]2 Huld und Erbarmen.
Groß ist Jehova, der Herr! Groß ist Jehova, der Herr! 
~ Johann Ladislaus Pyrker (1772-1847)

4 comments:

  1. I'm not much of a fan of this type of vocal music.

    That said, I watched and listened. Schubert was master of writing lieder.

    I do love Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello, AOW,

    "Die Allmacht," as it is called in its original German, is more of hybrid than the Mass in G-Major, which I've accompanied numerous times in the past by the way. Both are lovely in different ways.

    I think The Omnipotence is beautiful, but more of an art song (Lied) than a true piece of sacred music. Not many know that Schubert wrote any number of operas all of which were unsuccessful in their time and have remained obscure to all but a few musicologists eager to ferret out musical oddities to provide grist for the mills that produce academic theses, which no one but a few professors stuck with the task will ever read.

    The text is particularly appropriate for the themes running through Mr. Solomon's essay and today's later piece about the inescapable nature of God, whether you want to believe in Him or not.

    If one reads carefully and thoroughly, one can't help but notice that all three items are inextricably linked.

    ~ FreeThinke

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you're interested, here's the link to another rendition of The Omnipotence, this time with a great American dramatic soprano from the past, Helen Traubel, accompanied by full orchestra and a men's chorus.

    http://www.nme.com/nme-video/youtube/id/8E1MhAfpZcw

    As always, the differences in interpretation between great artists is striking -- and always fascinating -- at least to me.

    I was introduced to this piece when still a boy soprano. Margaret Harshaw -- a star of Wagnerian Music Dramas at New York's Metropolitan Opera, and contemporary of Helen Traubel -- was a great friend of J. Erwin Solomon, and came out from the City to sing The Omnipotence with our church choir. As a child I participated in the performance -- one of the great thrills of a lifetime.

    Margaret Harshaw, better known as Mrs. Eichna in her personal life, was a woman of faith whose operatic career started in a church choir -- like so many others -- Eleanor Steber, Leontyne Price, Sherrill Milnes, Clifford Harvuot, Jessye Norman among them. Miss Harshaw wanted always to stay in touch with her roots.

    Both she and Clifford Harvuot, a staple baritone at the Metropolitan Opera probably most famous for his superlative singing of Marcello in Puccini's La Boheme and for his magnificently touching portrayal of Horace Tabor in Douglas Moore's lyric American opera The Ballad of Baby Doe, always said they loved singing under Mr. Solomon's baton more than anyone else's, because he freed them to be in closer touch with their inner selves.

    What a privilege and joy it was for a young life to be able to participate in performances with these great musical personalities!

    ~ FreeThinke

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  4. Links to the singing of Margaret Harshaw at The Metropolitan Opera


    Margaret Harshaw around the time I knew her (early to mid fifties)

    As Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (with Frank Gurarrero)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzYrqDVPqpg

    As Brunnhilde in The Valkyrie:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAqWJUlHK_0

    As Senta in The Flying Dutchman:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFjwPMYZ06g

    She may have been best known for her Wagner, but the performance as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana displays her most attractive vocal qualities.

    As you can see from the pictures, Margaret Harshaw was like Kirsten Flagstad and Helen Traubel a very beautiful woman of statuesque proportions.

    Unfortunately, she came along at a time when impresarios and the opera-going public in general had a prejudice against home-grown American talent, and favored European singers, so Miss Harshaw's reputation was not as great as it deserved to be.

    Prejudice may be as normal as blueberry pie, but it's always stupid. This was a very great singer who in truth rivalled the very best of her day.

    ~ FreeThinke

    ReplyDelete

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