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Full text of "Handel's Oratorio, Samson: As Performed by the Cecilian Choir in New York ..."

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SAMSON, 

AS PERFORMED BY THE 

CECILIAN CHOIR 

IN 

NEW YORK AND BROOKLYN. 



Dr. H. 8. CUTLER, - - - - Choir Master. 
G. W. MORGAN, ----- Conductor. 
H. L. BATEMAN and L F. HARRISON, Directors. 

JAMES GEDDES DAY, 
President. 



1866. 



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The oratorio of Samson was a great favorite with the composer, who is said to have 
considered it so nearly equal to Tlie Messiah that he could not determine which should 
take precedence of the other. Dr. Burney relates that Handel, in his latter years, after 
the calamity of blindness had befallen him, could never hear the air " Total Eclipse " 
without being moved to tears. 

It may be considered appropriate and interesting to give here a chronological list ot 
Handel's Oratorios as drawn up from the original manuscript scores in the posesssion of 
her Majesty Queen Victoria : 

No. 1. La Resurrezzione (The Resurrection). 



An Italian oratorio 


1708. 


No. 2. Acis and Galatea. 




No. 3. Esther 


1720. 


No. 4. Deborah 


1733. 


No. 5. Athalia 


1733. 


[First performed at Oxford, 1788.] 




No. 6. Acis and Galatea (Serenata) 


. 1735. 


No. 7. Alexander's Feast 


. 1736. 


No. 8. Ode for Cecilia's Day . 


1736. 


No. 9. Israel in Egypt 


1738. 


No. 10. L' Allegro ed il Pensieroso « 


1740. 


No. 11. Saul 


1740. 


No. 12. Messiah 


1741. 


No. 13. Samson 


1742. 



No. 14. Belshazzar . 


. 1743. 


No. 15. Semele 


. 1743. 


No. 16. Joseph 


. 1743. 


No. 17. Hercules . 


. 1744. 


No. 18. Occasional Oratorio 


. 1745. 


No. 19. Judas Maccabaeus 


. 1746. 


No. 20. Joshua 


. 1747. 


No. 21. Alexander Balus 


. 1747. 


No. 22. Susanna 


. 1748. 


No. 23. Solomon 


. 1749. 


[Idem, 18 June. 1748.] 




No. 24. Theodora 


. 1749. 


No. 25. Jeptha 


. 1751. 


No. 26. Time and Truth 


. 1757. 



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SAMSON". 



Samson. 

Micah, his friend. 

Manoah, his father. 



PERSONS REPRESENTED. 

Dalila. 

Harapha, a giant of Oath* 

ISBAHLITISH ME8SENGER. 



ARGUMENT. 



Priests of Dagon. 
Israelites, friends of Samson. 
Philistines. 



Past I.— Samson, blind and captive to the Philistines, being relieved from his toil by a Festival in honor of Dagon their 
god, comes forth into the open air.— The priests of Dagon sing in praise of their idol.— Samson, bemoaning his 
condition, is visited by his friends and his father, Manoah, who Join in bewailing his degradation.— Samson, 
acknowledging the justice of his punishment, predicts that Dagon will not be allowed to triumph over the God of 
Israel.— Micah and his friends express a hope that Samson's prediction may be verified.— Samson, however, declares 
his hopes to be gone, his nature declining, and his life drawing to a close.— Upon which his friends recount to him 
the joy and peace that his spirit will realize in the eternal world. 

Part II.— Micah and the Israelites call upon God to have pity on Samson.— Dalila then appears, and pretending peni 
tence and submission, entreats him to go home with her. He refuses to listen to ner entreaties ; a scene of 
mutual recrimination ensues, and they separate. His friends assert the ordained subjection of the wife to the hus- 
band.— Harapha, a giant of Gath, then approaches, attracted by the fame of Samson's prodigious might, and boasts 
how he would have overcome him had he encountered him before his captivity.— Samson dares him to a trial now, 
which he refuses, and is taunted by Samson with cowardice.— Micah proposes, as a test of who is the supreme God, 
that Harapha should call upon Dagon to try his power over Samson — The Israelites postiate themselves before 
Jehovah and supplicate His delivering aid.— Harapha calls upon Dagon, and the worshipers of that idol appeal 
to him for protection and succor ; after which the Israelites and Philistines jointly, but in opposition to each other, 
celebrate the majesty, power, and supremacy of their respective deities. 

Part III.— Harapha is sent by the Philistine lords to bid Samson attend their festival to exhibit his strength before 
them, which at first he refuses to do.— His friends, perplexed for his safety, call upon God for help.— Samson, 

{>ersuaded inwardly that this was from God, yields to go along with Harapha, who oomes again with great threaten- 
ngs to fetch him.— Samson departs, invoking the aid of that Spirit with which he had formerly been inspired.— 
His friends cheer him on and declare him to be fulfilling the call and under the guidance of Heaven. Manoah 
returns to tell his friends his hopes of obtaining Samson's release. The Priests of Dagon are heard to celebrate 
the praises of their idol for subduing their foe.— Micah and Manoah hear the shouts of joy, and the latter again 
manifests his paternal solicitude for Samson.— An appalling, loud, and confused noise is heard, succeeded by 
wailings and cries for help.— An Israelitish messenger arrives in breathless haste, and relates to the relations and 
and friends of Samson the fearful news of his having pulled down the Philistine temple, and buried his enemies and 
himself in its ruins.— Micah and the Israelites lament his fall — A Dead March is heard, and his body approaches 
on its way to the tomb ; and Manoah and Micah and the Israelites perform the funeral rites. 



PAET THE FIRST. 



OVERTURE. 



SCENE.— Before the Prison in Gaza. 
Samson, blind and in chains. 

REC1T.— Samson. 

This day a solemn feast to Dagon held 
Relieves me from my task of servile toil ; 
Unwillingly their superstition yields 
This rest, to breathe heavVs air, fresh blowing, 
pure, and sweet. 

CHORUS.— Priests, Ac. 

Awake the trumpet's lofty sound ; 

The joyful sacred festival oomes round 

When Dagon, king of all the earth, is crown'd. 



AIR. — Philistine. 



Te men of Gaza, hither bring 
The merry pipe and pleasing string. 
The solemn hymn and oheerful song ; 
Be Dagon prais'd by every tongue. 

CHORUS. 

Awake the trumpet's lofty sound ; 

The joyful sacred festival oomes round 

When Dagon, king of all the earth, is crown'd. 

RECIT.*— Samson. 

O loss of sight ! of thee I most oomplain. 
O worse than beggary, old age, or chains I 
My very soul in real darkness dwells 1 



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4 
AIR. 


AIR. — Manoah. 


Total eclipse ! no sun, no moon; 
All dark amidst the blaze -of noon I 


Thy glorious deeds inspired my tongue, 


Whilst airs of joy from thence did flow ; 


glorious light ! no cheering ray 
To glad my eyes with welcome day ! 


To sorrows now I tune my song 
And set my harp to notes of woe. 


Why thus deprived Thy prime decree ? 


ATR, — Samson. 


Sun, moon, and stars are dark to me. 






Why does the God of Israel sleep f 




Arise with dreadful sound, 


CHORUS.— Israelites. 


And clouds encompassed round, 


first-created beam, and thou, great word, 
Let there be light ! and light was over all.; 
One heav'nly blaze shone round this earthly ball, 
To Thy dark servant, life, by light afford. 


Then shall the heathen hear Thy thunder deep. 
The tempest of Thy wrath now raise, 

In whirlwinds them pursue, 

Full fraught with vengeance due, 
Till shame and trouble all thy foes shall seize. 


Enter Manoah. 


CHORUS.— Israelites. 




Then shall they know that He, whose name 


Micah. 


Jehovah, is alone 


O'er all the earth but one ; 


Here comes thy rev'rend sire, old Manoah, 


Was ever the Most High and still the same. 


With careful steps and locks as white as down. 


Samson. 


Samson. 


My genial spirits droop, my hopes are fled ; 




Nature in me seems weary of herself; 


Alas 1 another grief that name awakes. 


My race of glory run, and race of shame, 




Death, invocated oft, shall end my pains 


Manoah. 


And lay me gently down with them that rest. 


Brethren and men of Dan, say where'* my son 


CHORUS.— Israelites. 


Samson, fond Israel's boast ? Inform my age. 


Then round about the starry throne 




Of Him who ever rules alone, m 


Micah. 


Your heavenly-guided soul shall climb ; 




Of all this earthly grossness quit, 
With glory crown'd forever sit, 


As signal now in low dejected state 

As in the height of powV : see where he lies ! 


And triumph over Death, and thee, Time ! 


PAET TH] 


3 SECOND. 


AIR. — Micah. 


AIR.* — Samson. 


Return, God of hosts I behold 


Your charms to ruin led the way, 


Thy servant in distress. 


My sense depraved, 




My strength enslaved : 




As I did love, you did betray. 


RECIT.— Micah. 


How great the curse, how hard my fate 




To pass life's sea with such a mate. 


But who is this, that so bedeck'd and gay, 


DUET Dalila 


Gomes this way sailing like a stately ship ? 


JLJ \J J-J M* * J^UVVVlVi 


'Tis Dalila, thy wife I 


Traitor to love, I'll sue no more 




For pardon scorn'd ; your threats give o'er. 


AIR .*— Dalila. 


Samson. 


With plaintive notes and am'rous moan 


Traitress to love, I'll hear no more 


Thus coos the turtle left alone. 


The charmer's voice ; your arts give o'er. 



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EECIT.— Mieah. 

No words of peace, no voice enchanting fear ; 
A rougher tongue expect. Here's Harapha, 
I know him by hie stride and haughty look. 

Enter Harapha. 

Harapha. 

I come not, Samson, to condole thy chance ; 

I am of Gath, men call me Harapha : 

Thou know'st me now ; of thy prodigious might 

Muoh have I heard, incredible to me ! 

Nor less displeased that never in the field 

We met to try each other's deeds of strength : 

I'd see if thy appearance answers loud report. 

Samson. 

The way to know were not to see, but taste. 

Harapha. 

Ha ! dost thou, then, already single me ? 
I thought that labor and thy chains had tam'd thee. 
Had fortune brought me to that field of death 
Where thou w rough t'st wonders with an ass's jaw, 
I'd left thy carcass where the ass lay dead. 

Samson. 
Boast not of 'what thou wouldst have done, but do. 

Harapfta. 

fhe honor certain to have won from thee 
I lose, prevented by thy eyes put out ; 
To combat with a blind man I disdain. 



AIR — Harapha. 

Honor and arms scorn suoh a foe, 
Tho' I could end thee at a blow ; 
Poor victory to conquer thee, 
Or glory in thy overthrow. 

DUET.— Samson. 

Go, baffled coward, go, 
Lest vengeance lay the low; 
In safety fly my wrath with speed. 

Harapha. 

Presume not on thy God, 
Who under foot has trod 
Thy strength and thee at greatest need. 

RECIT.— Mieah. 

Here lies the proof: if Dagon be thy god, 
With high devotion invooate his aid. 
His glory is concerned ; let him dissolve 
Those magio spells that gave our hero strength ; 
Then know whose god is God ; Dagon of mortal 

make, 
Or that Great One whom Abr'am's sons adore. 

CHORUS.— Israelites and Philistines. 
Fix'd in His everlasting seat, 

aS^onl ra,e8 the world in Btate - 

His thunder roars, heav'n shakes, and earth's 
aghast. 
The stars, with deep amaze, 
Remain in steadfast gaze ; 

Seal Dagon } iB of I°* the first ftnd lart < 



:p.a:rt the thied. 



RECIT.-JftcoA. 

Reflect, then, Samson, matters now are strain'd 
Up to the height, whether to hold or break. 
He's gone, whose malice may inflame the lords. 

Samson. 

Shall I abuse this consecrated gift 
Of strength, again returning with my hair 
By vaunting it in honor to their god, 
And prostituting holy things to idols? 

Mieah. 

How thou wilt here come oh? surmounts my reach ; 
'Tis heav'n alone can save both us and thee. 



CHORUS— Israelites. 

With thunder arra'd, great God, arise ; 
Help, Lord, or Israel's champion dies ; 
To Thy protection this Thy servant take, 
And save, O save us, for Thy servant's sake. 



AIR Asm CHORUS.— Mieah and Israelites. 

The Holy One of Israel be thy guide, 
The angel of thy birth stand by thy side : 

To fame immortal go, 

Heav'n bids thee strike the blow : 
The Holy One of Israel is thy guide. 



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RECIT.— JficaA. 

Old Manoah, with youthful steps, makes haste 
To find his son or bring ns some glad news. 



Enter Manoah. 

Manoah, 

I come, my brethren, not to seek my son. 
Who at the feast does play before the lords ; 
Bat give you part with me, what hopes I have 
To work his liberty. 

CHORUS. 

Great Dagon has subdued our foe, 
And brought their boasted hero low : 
Sound out his praise in notes diviue, 
Praise him with mirth, high cheer, and wine. 

RECIT.— Manoah. 
What noise of joy was that ? it tore the sky. 

Micah. 

They shout and sing, to see their dreaded foe 
Now captive, blind, delighting in his strength. 

Manoah. 

Gould my inheritance but ransom him, 
Without my patrimony, having him, 
The richest of my tribe. 

Micah. 

Sons care to nurse 
Their parents in old age ; but you, your son. 

AIR — Manoah. 

How willing my paternal love 

The weight to share 

Of filial care. 
And part of sorrow's burden prove ! 
Tho' wand'ring in the shades of night, 
Whilst I have eyes, he wants no light. 

REGIT— Micah. 

Your hopes of his deliv'ry seem not vain, 
In whioh all Israel's friends participate. 

Manoah. 
I know your friendly minds, and 

(A symphony of horror and confusion) 

Heav'n ! what noise ! 

Horribly loud, unlike the former shout. 



CHORUS— Philistines (at a little distance). 

Hear us, our God ! Oh, hear our cry ! 
Death ! ruin ! fall'n t no help is nigh : 
O mercy, heav'n! we sink, we diel 

RECIT.— Micah. 

Noise, call you this ? An universal groan, 
As if the world's inhabitation perish'd ! 
Blood, death, and ruin, at their utmost point. 

Manoah. 
Ruin, indeed ! Oh ! they have slain my son ! 

Micah . 

Thy son is rather slaying them : that cry 
From slaughter of one foe could not ascend. 
But see, my friends, 
One hither speeds, an Hebrew of our tribe. 

Enter an Israelttish Messenger. 

Messenger. 

Where shall I run, or which way fly the thoughts 
Of this most horrid sight ? O countrymen, 
You're in this sad event too much concerned. 

Micah. 

The accident was loud, we long to know from 
whence. 

Messenger. 

Let me recover breath ; it will burst torth. 

Manoah. 
Tell us the sum ; the circumstanoe defer. 

Messenger. 
Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fall'n. 

Manoah. 
Sad ! not to us ; but now relate by whom. 
Messenger. 



By Samson done. 



Manoah. 



The sorrow lessens still, 
And nigh converts to joy. 

Messenger. 

Oh, Manoah, 
In vain I would refrain : the evil tale 
Too soon will rudely pierce thy aged ear. 



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Manoah. 

Suspense in news is torture : speak it out. 

Messenger. 
Then take the worst in brief. Samson is dead ! 

Manoah* 

The worst, indeed ! My hopes to free him hence 
Are baffled all ! but Death (who sets all free) 
Hath paid his ransom now. 

Micah. 

Yet ere we give the reins to grief, say first 
How died he ? Death to life is crown or shame. 

Messenger. 

Unwounded of his enemies he fell. 
At once he did destroy and was destroyed. 
The edifice { where all were met to see) 
Upon their heads and on his own be palled. 

Manoah. 

O lastly over-strong against thyself ! 

A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge, 

Glorious, yet dearly bought. 



AIR — Micah. 

Ye sons of Israel, now lament ; 

Your spear is broke, your bow's unbent ; 

Your glory's fled ; — 

Amongst the dead 
Great Samson lies : 
For ever, ever 1 closed his eyes. 

CHORUS— Israelites. 

Weep, Israel, weep a louder strain ; 
Samson, your strength, your hero's slain. 

A DEAD MARCH. 

RECIT.— Manoah. 

Ooine, come ! No time for lamentation now ; 
No cause for grief; Samson like Samson fell, 
Both life and death heroic. To his foes 
Ruin is left ; to him, eternal fame. 

AIR. — Israelite. 

Let the bright Seraphim in burning row, 
Their loud uplifted Angel-trumpets blow ; 
Let the Cherubic host, in tuneful choirs, 
Touch their immortal harps with golden wires ; 

CHORUS.— Israelites. 

Let their celestial concerts all unite 

Ever to sound his praise in endless blaze of light. 



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