commentary to opus 8
Revelation of new life - Advent Cantata for for Alto solo, mixed Choir and Chamber Orchestra (1953)
Instrumentation: 2 Ob. (1 CorA), 2 Bn., 1 Tpt. i.C, 2 Vla, 2 Vlc., 1 Db.
performance: November 29, 1953 / Freiburg
Duration: 20 Minutes
Sources: Antiphon I +
II, Psalmodie: Romano Guardini: Deutscher Psalter. Nach der
lateinischen Ausgabe Papst Pius' XII., Im Auftrag der deutschen
Bischöfe; München, Kösel-Verlag, 1950 / Choral I: Text: um 1525;
Melodie nach Michael Vehes Gesangbuch, Leipzig 1537 / Choral II: Text:
Michael Schirmer, 1640; Melodie: Johann Crüger, 1640 / Choral III: Text
und Melodie: Philipp Nicolai, 1599
Score ED 21795 / ISMN: 979-0-001-19851-6
Piano reduction ED 21795-10 / ISMN: 979-0-001-19852-3
Parts ED 21795-71 / ISMN: 979-0-001-19853-0
Antiphon I (Alto Solo and Choir) 3'30''
Alto: For you have made him little lower than the heavenly beings and have crowned him with glory and majesty.
You gave him charge over the works of your hands, you have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8; 6,7)
Choir: God made mankind for immortality and he made them the immage of his very self. (Wisdom 2,23)
Choral I (Choir)
You see, oh God the anxious fear
of mankind's tribulation;
when will the promised Christ appear
the longed-for consolation?
When, Lord, our cry in heaven is heard,
your heart in love inspiring.
Send down to us your Son, your Word,
the joy of our desiring,
the jewel of our admiring.
God Father hears in heav'n above
His children’s woe-filled crying;
The Holy Spirit grieves in love,
For sinners’ pardon sighing.
God’s only Son speaks: Father, hear,
My heart to help is burning;
Send me to those that live in fear,
My throne in heaven spurning,
Their woes to blessing turning.
(Text:Bill Buchanan after "Aus hartem Weh die Menschheit klagt'", ca. 1525; Melody after Michael Vehes Gesangbuch, Leipzig 1537)
Will you not yourself revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your gracious mercy, Lord,
and grant us salvation.
Listen, my heart, what God the Lord speaks to you:
Truely, the Lord speaks peace,
unto his people, his faithful,
those who seek him with hearts true and willing.
His salvation is near for each one who fears him.,
God's own great glory will in our land than be dwelling.
The Lord will grant us goodness and his bounty
and our land shall yield its fruit in plenty.
(Psalm 85;7-10 and 13)
Choral II (Choir)
Sing, Christians! Hope is nearing
in this rich time of grace,
and see in Christ appearing
the glory of God's face.
He comes in humble birth,
yet powers and strongholds shaking,
and every shackle breaking
of Satan's rule on earth.
You sticking folk, sore grieving,
who in these evil days
press bravely on, believing,
on unlit roads and ways,
be yet of heart-felt cheer,
give praise to God in singing,
set earth and heaven ringing
to Him, your King, so dear.
Soon dawns the blessed morrow
from heaven's praise-fill'd bourne;
to comfort those in sorrow,
with joy for those that mourn.
He is a helper strong;
keep lamps and torches burning,
and watch for Him with yearning,
the time will not be long.
(Text: Bill Buchanan after Michael Schirmer, 1640; Melody: Johann Crüger, 1640)
Alto: The old things have passed away, all things are become new. (2. Kor. 6, 18)
Choir: Grace have you shown, oh Lord, blessing land and people, Jacob's fortunes restoring. (Psalm 85,1)
Glory to the Father, and the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as in the beginning, is now and shall be, world without end, amen.
Alto: The old things have passed away, all things are become new.
Choral III (Choir)
Wake, awake, for night is flying,
The watchmen on the heights are crying:
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices;
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
The Bridegroom comes, awake;
Your lamps with gladness take;
Alleluia! / And for His marriage feast prepare
For ye must go and meet Him there.
Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, Thou blessèd One,
God’s own belovèd Son:
Alleluia! / We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.
Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
let men and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone;
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where, dwelling with the choir immortal,
We gather round Thy dazzling throne;
No vision ever brougth,
No ear hath never caught;
Such great glory; / Therefore will we eternally
Sing hymns of praise and joy to Thee.
(Text and Melody: Philipp Nicolai, 1599)
Das Orchester 06/2015
The expressive depth of this Advent cantata continues to captivate even after more than fifty years. The lively rhythms and harmonic excesses make the movement dense, but still audible. Hummel pays attention to the nuances of the text. His recourse to baroque forms such as the passacaglia is of little consequence. He does not rehash musical history; on the contrary, such reminiscences arise as if inevitably from the work itself.
Revelation of New Life is an exciting cantata, created in a time of searching for new forms of expression in the middle of the last century, but which has lost none of its vitality and topicality to this day.
Badische Zeitung, 4th December, 1953
For the Catholic morning celebration on the first Sunday in Advent, Südwestfunk [Southwest Radio] commissioned the young Freiburg composer Bertold Hummel to write the music. The work for this occasion, titled "Offenbarung neuen Lebens" ["Revelation of New Life"], for mixed choir, solo alto and chamber orchestra, received its broadcast première on the First Programme of Southwest Radio. Its six movements, each either leading into the spoken word of the Scripture reading or the homily or else following on from the same, is based on texts from the "Deutscher Psalter" ["German Psalter"] in the transcription by Romano Guardini. In the austere clarity of his tonal language, Hummel appears here to have concentrated the liturgical style he drew on for the Mass performed for the first time in Donaueschingen last year into an even more intensely personal style. With strictly linear voice leading, the melodic material is largely related to the old church psalm modes, with certain unmistakable influences from late Stravinsky combining felicitously with forms of polyphonic chorale setting. "Antiphons" for choir, solo alto and instruments alternate with pure accompanied choral settings and choral psalmody ("Willst du uns nicht wieder Leben schenken" ["Will you not revive us again"]) over an orchestral passacaglia. In light transparency, the strictly imitative choral setting of "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" ["Wake, awake, for night is flying"] closes this work of consistently sacral character – its astringent and ascetic timbres also proved to be excellently suited to broadcasting. An essential component in this sound world is the chamber orchestra, with one instrument per part, including two oboes and bassoons, a trumpet mostly entrusted with cantus-firmus-like parts, and five solo strings in a low register (without violins). The clear profile achieved in this rendition was due to the work of Helmtrude Kraft (alto), a chamber choir from the State Music Academy in Freiburg, and members of the Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Professor Franz Stemmer.