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Nachthymne (1827) D687


Hinüber wall’ ich,
Und jede Pein
Wird einst ein Stachel
Der Wollust sein.
Noch wenig Zeiten,
So bin ich los
Und liege trunken
Der Lieb’ im Schoss.
Unendliches Leben
Wogt mächtig in mir,
Ich schaue von oben
Herunter nach dir.
An jenem Hügel
Verlischt dein Glanz –
Ein Schatten bringet
Den kühlenden Kranz.
O! sauge, Geliebter,
Gewaltig mich an,
Dass ich entschlummern
Und lieben kann.
Ich fühle des Todes
Verjüngende Flut,
Zu Balsam und Äther
Verwandelt mein Blut –
Ich lebe bei Tage
Voll Glauben und Mut,
Und sterbe die Nächte
In heiliger Glut.

Hymn to the Night

I shall pass over,
and all pain
will be a stab
of pleasure.
In a short while
I shall be freed
and lie enraptured
in the bosom of love.
Eternal life
will surge powerfully within me;
I shall gaze down on you
from above.
Your radiance will fade
on yonder hill,
shadow will bring
a cooling wreath.
Beloved, draw me
powerfully in,
that I may fall asleep
and love.
I feel the rejuvenating
tide of death,
my blood is changed
to balm and ether.
By day I live
full of faith and courage;
at night I die
in the sacred fire.

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Franz Peter Schubert was an late Classical and early Romantic composer. He produced a vast oeuvre during his short life, composing more the 600 vocal works (largely Lieder), and well as several symphonies, operas, and a large body of piano music. He was uncommonly gifted from a young age, but appreciation of his music was limited during his lifetime. His work became more popular in the decades after his death, and was praised by 19th century composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt.

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Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, a poet, author, and philosopher of early German Romanticism. Hardenberg's professional work and university background, namely his study of mineralogy and management of salt mines in Saxony, was often ignored by his contemporary readers. He was the second of the eleven children of the estate owner and salt-mine manager Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus Freiherr von Hardenberg. 

In 1797 Novalis entered the Mining Academy of Freiberg in Saxony, a leading academy of science, to study geology.  During his studies in Freiberg, he immersed himself in a wide range of subjects, including mining, mathematics, chemistry, biology, history and, not least, philosophy. It was here that he collected materials for his famous encyclopaedia project. Similar to other German authors of the Romantic age, his work in the mining industry, which was then undergoing the first steps to industrialization, was closely connected with his literary work.

Novalis' first fragments were published in 1798 in the Athenäum, a magazine edited by the brothers Schlegel, who were also part of the early Romantic movement. Novalis' first publication was entitled Blüthenstaub (Pollen) and saw the first appearance of his pseudonym, "Novalis". In July 1799, he became acquainted with Ludwig Tieck, and that autumn he met other authors of so-called "Jena Romanticism".

From Spring 1799, Novalis again worked in the management of salt mines. That December, he became an assessor of the salt mines and a director. In December 1800, the twenty-eight-year-old Hardenberg was appointed "Supernumerar-Amtshauptmann" for the district of Thuringia, a position comparable to that of a present-day magistrate. But from August onward, Hardenberg suffered from tuberculosis, and on March 25, 1801, he died in Weißenfels. His body was buried in the old cemetery there.

Novalis lived long enough to see the publication only of Pollen, Faith and Love or the King and the Queen and Hymns to the Night. His unfinished novels, his political speech, and numerous other notes and fragments were published posthumously by his friends Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Schlegel.

Schubert made settings of several of his poems: Hymne I, II, III and IV (D659, 660, 661 and 662), Marie (D658) and Nachthymne (D687).

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