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RC 45 Geistliches Lied (“Wenn ich ihn nur habe”)

text source

Novalis Schriften Vol. II (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1837 5th edition), 27-28

first performance

1899-11-14 00:00:00.0 Utrecht, Pieterskerk

recordings

  • Memorare KRO 94009

publications

  • Geistliches Lied (N° 5 aus Novalis’ “Geistliche Lieder”) Alsbach & Co, G. (Amsterdam) 6672544

  • Geistliches Lied (“Wenn ich ihn nur habe”)
  • Novalis
  • soprano and piano
  • 1898-11-09 00:00:00.0
  • duration 5:35

The works by Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg (1772-1801), better known under his pseudonym Novalis, were close to Diepenbrock’s heart. His high regard for the ideas of the German poet and philosopher comes up time and time again in his letters and also in his essays Diepenbrock repeatedly expressed his admiration for the “wonderfully delicate flowers of mystic delight and exceptional insight, blossoming in the soul of good-natured dreamers such as Novalis”. (VG 28) One of Diepenbrock’s essays on the essence of music bears as motto the following quote by Novalis: …more >

Geistliches Lied (incipit)


The works by Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg (1772-1801), better known under his pseudonym Novalis, were close to Diepenbrock’s heart. His high regard for the ideas of the German poet and philosopher comes up time and time again in his letters and also in his essays Diepenbrock repeatedly expressed his admiration for the “wonderfully delicate flowers of mystic delight and exceptional insight, blossoming in the soul of good-natured dreamers such as Novalis”. (VG 28) One of Diepenbrock’s essays on the essence of music bears as motto the following quote by Novalis:

“Alles Sichtbare haftet am Unsichtbaren, das Hörbare am Unhörbaren, das Fühlbare am Unfühlbaren. Vielleicht das Denkbare am Undenkbaren.”

(All that is visible adheres to the invisible, all that is audible to the inaudible, all that is tangible to the intangible. Perhaps all that is thinkable to the unthinkable. VG 73)

As a composer Diepenbrock was especially inspired by the mystical tone of Novalis’ Hymnen an die Nacht (Hymns to the Night). The series of songs on texts from this collection starts with Hinüber wall’ ich (I Pilgrimage over There, RC 37) from 1897, and reaches a highpoint two years later with Hymnen an die Nacht for voice and orchestra (RC 49 and RC 50).

Preceding the Hymnen an die Nacht, Diepenbrock wrote two compositions for soprano and organ on texts from Novalis’ Geistliche Lieder (Sacred Songs), which in the nineteenth century was a very popular collection. The set of poems, which were written in 1799 and 1800 and published posthumously, were intended as food for thought for the Protestant congregation. With these mystical but overall easy hymns, Novalis hoped to contribute to the depth of the congregation’s personal faith.

From this collection Diepenbrock first set Wenn ich ihn nur habe (If Only I Have Him) to music in the autumn of 1898, then he started his Wenige wissen das Geheimnis der Liebe (Few Know the Secret of Love, RC 47). Both songs, which the composer usually refers to as a pair, were written for and dedicated to Aaltje Noordewier.-Reddingius. Given the religious theme, Diepenbrock naturally chose the organ for the accompaniment. He gave specific instructions for the registration of Wenn ich ihn nur habe:

The registration as much as possible with Gamba 8’ alternated with Hohl Flute 8’
as little as possible flute stops
lingual stops only at the f at the end

This registration as it were points towards the orchestration Diepenbrock would make of this song in 1906 (see RC 72).

Unaffected melody of the voice

The composition closely follows the structure of the simple poem, which has identical openings for each strophe. The unaffected melody of the voice (semplice) is mostly syllabic. An exception to this is the exuberant melisma at the end of the third verse (on “durchdringen” – penetrate). Several times the easy-going motion (Andante con moto) in 3/4 time is interrupted by a change of measure for the sake of prosody. Wenn ich ihn nur habe is in b minor, but in the last verse (opening with the words “Wo ich ihn nur habe, ist mein Vaterland”) Diepenbrock permanently switches to major, which was already latent before.

At the beginning of 1899 Diepenbrock intended to send both Geistliche Lieder to his friend Charles Smulders in order to gauge his opinion. However, by then he had become engrossed in his work on the Hymne an die Nacht for soprano and orchestra. From the fact that on 3 October of that same year Diepenbrock asked Smulders to return the manuscript of the songs to him for a rehearsal with the singer and organist, we can deduce that Smulders took the Geistliche Lieder with him after visiting Amsterdam for several days in April to attend two concerts with compositions of his own.

When it turned out that Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius was disinclined to sing Wenige wissen das Geheimnis der Liebe (see RC 47), it was decided that only Wenn ich ihn nur habe would be performed in the St Peter’s Church in Utrecht on 14 November 1899. As the final work on the programme, it made a huge impression. As a critic said:

“After hearing such a work, silence befits us, equally respectful as the silence that hung in the large, packed church after the last notes had faded away.” (BD III:554)

Hugo Nolthenius hailed Wenn ich ihn nur habe as in word and tone a masterpiece of noble, sympathetic feeling and perfect technique. (BD III:555)

Désirée Staverman



Wenn ich ihn nur habe,
Wenn er mein nur ist,
Wenn mein Herz bis hin zum Grabe
Seine Treue nie vergißt:
Weiß ich nichts von Leide,
Fühle nichts als Andacht, Lieb’ und Freude.

Wenn ich ihn nur habe,
Laß ich alles gern,
Folg’ an meinem Wanderstabe
Treugesinnt nur meinem Herrn;
Lasse all die Andern
Breite, lichte, volle Straßen wandern.

Wenn ich ihn nur habe,
Schlaf ich fröhlich ein.
Ewig wird zu süßer Labe
Seines Herzens Flut mir sein,
Die mit sanftem Zwingen
Alles wird erweichen und durchdringen.

Wenn ich ihn nur habe,
Hab’ ich auch die Welt;
Selig wie ein Himmelsknabe,
Der der Jungfrau Schleier hält.
Hingesenkt im Schauen
Kann mir vor dem Irdischen nicht grauen.

Wo ich ihn nur habe,
Ist mein Vaterland,
Und es fällt mir jede Gabe,
Wie ein Erbteil in die Hand.
Längst vermißte Brüder
Find’ ich nun in seinen Jüngern wieder.


  • A-41(7) Geistliches Lied “Wenn ich ihn nur habe”

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    • 9
    • 10

    A-41(7) with dedication on the title page Gecomponeerd voor Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius and dated on the last page 9 Nov 1898; with a remark on the title page concerning the organ registration

    • 1898-11-09 00:00:00.0
    • dedication: Gecomponeerd voor Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: 10
  • A-64(5) Geistliches Lied “Wenn ich ihn nur habe”

    A-64(5) dated on the last page 9 Nov 1898

    • 1898-11-09 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown
  • A-64(6) Geistliches Lied “Wenn ich ihn nur habe”

    ocal part A-64(6) dated on the last page 9 Nov 1898

    • 1898-11-09 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown
  • A-80(12) Geistliches Lied “Wenn ich ihn nur habe” (organ score)

    semi-autograph organ part A-80(12) dated on the last page 9 Nov 1898

    • 1898-11-09 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown

  • click to enlarge

    Memorare

    cd KRO 94009
    Versteeg, Marc ♦ Bartelink, Bernard ♦ Brummelstroete, Wilke te ♦ Overpelt, Robbert ♦ Vocaal Ensemble Markant

    Tracks:

  • Geistliches Lied (N° 5 aus Novalis’ “Geistliche Lieder”)

    1928 Alsbach & Co, G. (Amsterdam)

14 nov 1899: Eerste uitvoering van het Geistliches Lied (“Wenn ich ihn nur habe”) in de St. Pieterskerk te Utrecht door Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius met orgelbegeleiding van W. Petri.

En nu, wat te zeggen over het lied van Diepenbrock voor sopraansolo en orgel dat – en dit was zeer juist en oordeelkundig gehandeld van den heer Petri – als slotnummer op het programma geplaatst was? Na een auditie van zulk een werk voegt ons een stilzwijgen, even eerbiedig als daar hing in het ruime, gevulde kerkgebouw, nadat de laatste tonen waren weggestorven. Men voelt zich vreemd staan tegenover deze uiting, die tot ons komt als een bloem uit verre, schoone landen. Het is het vijfde van Novalis' Geistliche Lieder “wenn ich ihn nur habe, wenn er mein nur ist... weiss ich nichts von Leide”, een dier heerlijke geloofsliederen, gezongen door een mysticus der vorige eeuw, dat Diepenbrock in zijn taal omzette. Wat ons trof, dat was de innige verwantschap tusschen deze beide geesten; 't is éénzelfde voelen dat beide bezielt, maar dat zich uitspreekt in gansch andere taal. — Beiden, de dichter van het woord, zoowel als de toondichter, zijn kinderen van hun tijd. Tegelijk met Novalis' liederen klonken die derRomantiker; de Hollandsche mysticus, met hoe groote liefde ook zich verdiepende in de werken der ouden, koos zich de taal der 19de eeuw. Zoo komt het dat zijn lied mist die soberheid, die stille vroomheid die wij, den tekst kennende, wellicht verwacht hadden, – zoodat wij bij het hooren onwillekeurig herinnerd werden aan de beginregels van een ander der zangen van Novalis:

Der Sänger geht auf rauhen Pfaden, Zerreisst in Dornen sein Gewand.

Maar in de nagalm van Diepenbrock's hymne, zooals we die hoorden in de meest ideale vertolking, klonk ons terug die ééne regel bovenal:

Fühle nichts als Andacht, Lieb' und Freude....

Het Centrum (L.v.B.), 15 november 1899

pdf All reviews for RC 45 Geistliches Lied (“Wenn ich ihn nur habe”)