Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Creation

One of my favourite pieces of music is The Creation by
Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809).
The libretto is a brilliant synthesis of the text of Genesis 1-2, Psalm 19 and 104, and Milton's Paradise Lost. I have a wonderful CD recording which uses the version of the English libretto, updated by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker. Here is some:
In shining splendour, radiant now the sun bestrides the sky;
a wondrous, joyful bridegroom,
a giant proud and glad,
he runs his ordered course
With softer steps and wistful shimmer,
steals the moon through still enshadowed night.
The boundless vaults of heaven's domain
shine with unnumbered magnitude of stars.
And the sons of God rejoiced in the Fourth Day
in chorus divine, praising God's great might, and saying:
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
with wonders of his work resounds the firmament.
I sometimes (naively) think that if everyone read Genesis 1-3, along with Barth's detailed exegesis in Church Dogmatics 3.1, and listened to this music that most of the controversy about the relationship between science and the Bible would dissipate very quickly.

I am puzzled that the commentary that comes with my CD states, the composition is "a document of Enlightenment religious beliefs and attitudes." I fail to see how this is the case, given the fidelity to the Biblical text.

I am quite excited that in Brisbane in November the whole work will be performed by the Queensland Orchestra and the Canticum Chamber Choir. (I just hope it is not in German.)
Listening will be better than trying to sing to my dear wife:
Now is our duty well fulfilled;
our maker have we duly thanked.
Now follow me, companion of my life!
Thy guide I'll be, and every step
wakes new delight within my breast,
shows wonders everywhere.
Then surely thou shalt know
what boundless realms of joy the Lord hath given us.
His praise we everymore,
him serve with heart and mind.
Come, follow me! Thy guide I'll be.

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