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Ja! Ich glaub: solches hat er vollbrach (1911)


Part of a series or song cycle:

Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann 


Ja! Ich glaub: solches hat er vollbrach

Ja ! Ich glaub: Solches hat er volbracht,
Des Vaters Zorn zunicht gemacht,
Der Menschheit ewig Heil erworben,
Und ist dafür am Kreuz verstorben.
Doch weiss ich, solches kommt zugut
Nur dem, der heilig ist und gut :
Durch gute Werk und Frommheit eben
Erkauft er sich ein ewig Leben.
Da sieh, so stehts um meine Werk :
Von Sünden hab ich einen Berg
So überschwer auf mich geladen,
Dass mich Gott gar nit kann begnaden,
Als er der Höchstgerechte ist.

Yes, I believe that Christ has done this

Yes, I believe that Christ has done this,
Has appeased his Father's wrath,
Brought mankind eternal salvation
Through dying on the cross.
Yet I know, only he partakes of this,
Whose soul is good and holy:
Through good deeds and piety,
He shall gain eternal life.
But look at the state of my deeds:
I have weighed myself down
With such a mountain of sins
That God, the most righteous of all,
Could never grant me mercy.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Frank Martin was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands.


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Poet

Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal (1 February 1874 – 15 July 1929) was an Austrian prodigy, a novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist. He became internationally famous through his work with Richard Strauss.

The only child of a bank director, Hofmannsthal studied law at Vienna. At 16 he published his first poems, under the pseudonym Loris. They created a stir in Vienna and in Germany with their lyrical beauty, magic evocativeness of language, and dreamlike quality. Their anticipation of mature experience and formal virtuosity seem incredible in one so young. After his year of compulsory military service, he studied Romance philology with a view to an academic career but in 1901 married and became a free-lance writer.

Between 1891 and 1899 Hofmannsthal wrote a number of short verse plays, influenced by the static dramas of the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, the dramatic monologues of the English Romantic poet Robert Browning, and the proverbes dramatiques of the French poet Alfred de Musset. Of the same exquisite beauty as the poems, these playlets are lyric reflections on appearance and reality, transience and timelessness, and continuity and change within the human personality—themes constantly recurring in his later works. After the turn of the century, however, Hofmannsthal renounced purely lyrical forms in his essay “Ein Brief” (also called “Chandos Brief,” 1902). This essay was more than the revelation of a personal predicament; it has come to be recognized as symptomatic of the crisis that undermined the esthetic Symbolist movement of the end of the century. You can read it here in German or English. 

Read more about Hofmannsthal, as well as some of his poetry in English, here. You can find an extensive collection of his poetry in the original German here, on zeno.org. 

Information taken from Wikipedia and Encycolpedia Brittanica. For the full Wikipedia article, click here. For the full Encyclopedia Brittannica entry, click here.


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