Mahler's Eighth Symphony

To accompany your April 2011 cover CD, here is a translation of the final scene from Goethe's Faust

BBC Music Magazine April 2011 cover CD
Published: February 17, 2011 at 10:35 am

Final Scene from Goethe’s Faust, Part II.
Mountain gorges, forest, rock, solitude. Holy Anchorites sheltering on the slopes between rocky clefts.


Track 7: Poco adagio: Waldung, sie schwankt heran

Chorus and echo

Forest sways closer
Rocks weigh heavily,
Roots grip,
Tree trunk close to tree trunk,
Wave after wave splashes,
The deepest cave gives shelter,
Lions silently prowl friendly around us,
honoring the sacred place,
holy sanctuary of love.

Track 8: Ewiger Wonnebrand

Pater ecstaticus (floating up and down)

Eternal fire of ecstasy,
glowing bond of love,
seething pain of the breast,
foaming divine passion.
Arrows, pierce me,
lances, subdue me,
clubs, smash me down,
lightning, flash through me,
So that all things futile dissolve completely,
and the everlasting star may shine,
essence of eternal love!

Track 9: Wie Felsenabgrund mir zu Füssen

Pater profundus (lower region)

As the rocky abyss at my feet rests heavily on deep abyss,
as a thousand streams radiantly flow to the violent plunge of the foaming flood,
as by its own forceful impulse the tree trunk rears straight up into the air,
so it is almighty love
that shapes and preserves everything.
A wild roaring surrounds me,
as if forest and rocks were in upheaval!
And yet in gentle rushing
the water masses flow down the gorge,
called now to irrigate the valley;
The lightning struck down with fire,
to clear the atmosphere,
which carried poison and fumes in its bosom:
They are love’s heralds who proclaim
that which surrounds us, ever-creating.
May it set alight my inner being,
where the spirit, confused and cold,
is tormented by the boundaries of dull senses,
locked sharp in fetters of pain.
O God! Soothe my thoughts, enlighten my needy heart!

Track 10: Gerettet ist das edle Glied

Angels (hovering in the higher atmosphere, bearing Faust’s immortal soul)

The noble member of the spirit world is saved from evil:
Whoever endeavours and aspires can be redeemed by us;
And if love has also touched him from on high,
the blessed congregation will welcome him readily amongst them.

Chorus of the blessed boys (circling the highest summits)

Join hands joyfully in a circle!
Come and sing to bestow holy feeling!
Divinely instructed, you can rest assured that you shall see the one you worship.

The younger angels

Those roses from the hands
of loving-holy penitent women
helped us gain the victory and fulfil the high purpose,
to capture this soul-treasure,
Evil ones retreated as we strewed,
devils fled as we hit them,
Instead of the usual punishments of hell the spirits felt the agony of love;
Even old Master Satan himself was pierced by sharp pain.
Rejoice! It is done.

Track 11: Uns bleibt ein Erdenrest

The more perfect angels

We still have an earthly residue, painful to bear,
Even if it were made of asbestos it is not pure.
When the strong power of the spirit has pulled the elements towards itself,
no angel could break apart the united twin halves of the close couple;
Eternal love alone is able to separate them.

The younger angels

I felt just now,
misty round the rocky heights,
a spirit moving close by.
I see a group of blessed boys stirring,
free from earthly burdens,
joined in a circle,
who delight in the new springtime and beauty of the world above.

Track 12: Hier ist die Aussicht frei

Doctor Marianus (in the highest, purest cell)

Here the view is free, the spirit elevated.
The younger angels
May he, at the beginning of ever increasing gain, be their companion!
The blessed boys
Joyously, we welcome him in his chrysalis state;
and thus we receive an angelic forfeit.
Loosen the flakes that cling to him!
And now he is fair and great through divine life.

Doctor Marianus

Women pass by over there, soaring upwards;
The glorious one in the centre with a starry crown,
the queen of heaven,
I recognise her splendour!

Track 13 Höchste Herrscherin der Welt

Highest ruler of the world,
Let me see your mystery in the blue, widespread celestial canopy!
Approve of how man’s breast is moved, gravely and tenderly, and is offered to you with the devine delight of love! Indomitable is our courage when you command;
The burning passion subsides at once when you calm us.

Doctor Marianus and choir

Virgin, pure in the loveliest sense,
Mother, worthy of honours,
Queen, elected for us,
equal to gods! (Mater Gloriosa soars into view)

Track 14: Dir, der Unberührbaren

To you, the untouchable,
it is not denied that the ones who are easily led astray come to you, trustingly.
Caught in their weakness, they are difficult to save.
Who could, of his own strength, break the chains of lust?
How quickly slips the foot on sloping, smooth ground?

Chorus of penitent woman with Una Poenitentium (Gretchen)

You soar up to the heights of the eternal kingdom,
Listen to the pleading, you, full of mercies!
Nothing compares to you!

Track 15: Bei der Liebe, die den Füssen

Magna Peccatrix

By the love that, at the feet of your divinely glorified son,
lets tears flow like balsam,
in spite of the Pharisee’s scorn;
By the vessel that so abundantly sheds drops of sweet scent;
By the locks that so softly dried the holy limbs –

Mulier Samaritana

By the well, to which once old Abraham led the flock;
By the bucket, that was allowed to touch and cool the Saviour’s lips;
By the pure, rich spring that now flows from there,
overflowing, ever clear,
flowing all around the whole world

Maria Aegyptiaca

By the most sacred place where they laid down the Lord;
By the arm that, from the entrance,
pushed me back warningly;
By the forty year-long penance,
that I faithfully spent in the desert;
By the blessed words of farewell that I wrote down in the sand

All three

You, who denies not your presence to the women who have sinned greatly;
And their repentance is a gain,
growing into eternity,
Grant also to this good soul who only fell once,
not knowing it went wrong, your just forgiveness!

Track 16: Neige, neige, du Ohnegleiche

Una Poenitentium (Gretchen)

Incline, incline,
you incomparable,
you full of radiance,
your face graciously to my happiness!
The one loved long ago,
no longer tainted,
is coming back.

The Blessed Boys (approaching in circling movement)

Already he towers above us with his mighty limbs,
he will reciprocate the loyal care with rich rewards.
We were removed early on from the choirs of the living,
But this man has learnt: he will teach us.

Una Poenitentium (Gretchen)

Surrounded by the precious choir of spirits,
the newcomer is hardly aware of himself,
He barely notices the fresh new life,
already resembling the sacred group.
See, how he is slipping off every single earthly bond of the old skin,
and out of ethereal garments the first force of youth appears!
Allow me to instruct him, he is still dazzled by the new day.

Mater Gloriosa

Come! Rise up to higher spheres! If he perceives you, he shall follow.


Come! Come!

Track 17: Blicket auf zum Retterblick

Doctor Marianus and Chorus

Look up to the redeeming gaze,
all you gentle penitents,
that you shall be gracefully transformed to blissful fortune!
May every better sense be ready at your service;
Virgin, Mother, Queen Goddess, be ever merciful!

Track 18: Alles Vergängliche

Chorus mysticus

All things transitory are mere parables;
Here the insufficient becomes fulfilment;|
Here the indescribable is accomplished;
the eternal feminine draws us up.


© Translation Suzanne Frank

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