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Wenn ich mit Menschen und mit Engelszungen redete Op. 121 no.4

Part of a series or song cycle:

Vier ernste Gesänge, (Four Serious Songs) (Op. 121)

Wenn ich mit Menschen und mit Engelszungen redete

Wenn ich mit Menschen - und mit Engelzungen redete,
und hätte der Liebe nicht,
so wär ich ein tönend Erz, oder eine klingende Schelle.
Und wenn ich weissagen könnte und wüßte alle Geheimnisse und alle Erkenntnis,
und hätte allen Glauben,
also, daß ich Berge versetzte, und hätte der Liebe nicht, so wäre ich nichts.
Und wenn ich alle meine Habe den Armen gäbe,
und ließe meinen Leib brennen
und hätte der Liebe nicht,
so wäre mir's nichts nütze.
Wir sehen jetzt durch einen Spiegel in einem dunklen Wort,
dann aber von Angesicht zu Angesichte.
Jetzt erkenne ich's stückweise;
dann aber werde ichs erkennen,
gleichwie ich erkannt bin.
Nun aber bleibet Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, diese drei;
aber die Liebe ist die größeste unter ihnen.

Though I speak with the tongues of men

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
and have not charity,
I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries,
and all knowledge;
and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned,
it profiteth me nothing...
For now we see through glass, darkly;
but then face to face:
now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna. 

Brahms has been considered, by his contemporaries and by later writers, as both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Classical masters. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by many. 

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Martin Luther, (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

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