About this Recording
8.557312-13 - HANDEL: Gideon
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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Gideon (compiled from the works of Handel by John Christopher Smith (1712-1795))

After the death of Handel in 1759, the London public was still eager for more music from a composer who had been so dear to them. John Christopher Smith responded to this demand and to his own purposes in collaborating with Handel’s former librettist, Thomas Morell, and searching through the Old Testament for a suitable subject. Morell based a libretto on the story of Gideon, and John Christopher Smith supplied the text with arias, ensembles and choruses from Handel’s operas and oratorios, as well as from earlier or new compositions of his own.

Handel himself had first visited London as a composer of Italian opera, returning to settle there and continue his close involvement with the theatre. In the 1730s, however, he saw the advantage of developing a new form, English oratorio, that would combine English religious texts with music of similar appeal to that of his Italian operas. The venture proved immensely popular and after Handel’s death his oratorios continued to hold a place in English choral repertoire, to the disadvantage of native composers, unable to rival his example.

During his many years in England Handel benefited from the help of the two Smiths, father and son, his compatriots. The older Johann Christoph Schmidt was born in Kitzingen in 1683, the son of a respected tradesman and town councillor, and may, perhaps, have met Handel at the University in Halle, during the latter’s brief period as a student there. At all events, with the death of his father in 1704 Schmidt moved the following year to Nuremberg and shortly afterwards to Ansbach, where he married, and after the death of his wife in childbirth in 1708 took a second wife, the mother of his four children. In 1716 he accepted an invitation from Handel, who was visiting Ansbach, to work with him in London, later to be joined there by his wife and three surviving children. His first son and second child, given the same name as his father, to the confusion of later writers, also followed his father in changing his name to the English John Christopher Smith.

John Christopher Smith the elder served Handel as a principal copyist and assistant until the composer’s death in 1759, and thereupon received as a bequest Handel’s manuscripts, a collection that passed to his son after his own death in 1763. The Handel autographs were bequeathed in 1795 to King George III and are now, with the rest of the Royal Music Library, held by the British Library, while the conducting scores were left to the younger Smith’s stepdaughter, eventually to be auctioned in 1851.

The younger John Christopher Smith, born in Ansbach in 1712, had his schooling in London. At the age of thirteen he had keyboard lessons from Handel and studied composition with Thomas Roseingrave and Johann Christoph Pepusch, winning an early reputation as a music teacher and, to a lesser extent, as a composer. In the 1750s he helped Handel in the performance of oratorios, particularly after the latter’s blindness, and served as unpaid organist and choirmaster at the Foundling Hospital, where he conducted regular annual performances of Messiah for a number of years after Handel’s death. He also collaborated with David Garrick in three operas. From 1762 he was Master of Music to the Princess of Wales, serving in this capacity until the latter’s death in 1772. Two years later he retired to Bath, where he died in 1795.

Smith enjoyed a significant reputation in the musical life of London, but preferred the society of leading figures in other professions. His first wife was the sister of the future Lord Longford, and after her death and those of his own children by her, he married the widow of the Royal Physician, Dr Coxe, assuming responsibility for her children. His connection with Handel was an important one and his possession of Handel’s conducting scores and autographs put him in an unrivalled position when it came to continuing the regular annual series of oratorios that had been initiated in Handel’s lifetime. From 1760 until his retirement he collaborated with the blind organist and composer John Stanley in the provision of oratorios performed in London on Fridays in Lent. He had had his first attempt at the genre with his David’s Lamentations over Saul and Jonathan in 1740, followed twenty years later by Paradise Lost, based on Milton, but Handel remained the overwhelmingly popular composer in the form.

The pasticcio, a form of composite work bringing together excerpts from other works, often by different composers, had, by the early eighteenth century, a sound commercial purpose. Employed particularly in opera, it came to offer an equally useful vehicle for new-minted oratorios. Smith had a stock of Handelian material on which to draw, and had offered his first oratorio derived from Handel with his Rebecca on 16th March 1764. The same occasion brought the Handelian pastiche Nabal, with a libretto by Thomas Morell, who had provided Handel with libretti for Judas Maccabaeus, Alexander Balus, Theodora and Jephtha, and probably also for Joshua. For Handel’s English version of an earlier work under the new title of The Triumph of Time and Truth he had written a text that fitted the existing music, and for Nabal he performed the same task, as he was later to do for Smith’s Handelian Gideon, fitting the words to the music. Gideon was first performed at Covent Garden on 10th February 1769. Much of the music was by Handel, but Smith took an overture and six vocal items from his own oratorio of 1762, The Feast of Darius, itself derived to some extent from his opera Dario of 1746, a work based on a libretto by Metastasio.

The story of Gideon is taken from the Book of Judges. After the conquest of Canaan by Joshua the Israelites settled principally in the mountainous regions of Galilee and in the south and central regions of Canaan and began, in the course of the years, to take on the farming pattern of life of the people they had conquered. In the areas where they had settled there were still Canaanites and related peoples, the Moabites, Ammonites and Midianites, the cause of continued conflict. Since their arrival in the Promised Land, the people of Israel were for many years involved in war, with varying fortunes.

With this external danger came an internal threat. The earlier inhabitants of Canaan worshipped Baal and other gods. The Israelites were at times tempted to apostasy, which would have destroyed their very identity as a people. For the writer of the Book of Judges, the Book of Samuel and the Books of Kings it was all too obvious that apostasy must bring immediate punishment. For this reason God delivered the Israelites into the hands of the Midianites for seven years (Judges vi.1) and the writer was never tired of recounting tales of apostasy, punishment and return. The story of Gideon follows the story of Deborah, Jaël and Barak (Judges vi-viii).

Synopsis

CD 1

Part I

The children of Israel have fallen away from the Lord and aroused his anger. They are attacked from all sides, particularly by the Midianites, who have allied themselves with Israel’s deadliest enemy, the Amalekites. The Israelites are warned by a prophet, who urges repentance, and they seek the blessing of Jehovah. An Israelite tells of Gideon, who sees the camp of the Midianites, and is angry at their domination. An angel appears to him, telling him that he will defeat the enemy. Gideon seeks a sign, and brings out food. The angel stretches out his hand, and fire rises up over the offering, as the angel vanishes, to general amazement.

A Midian prince, Oreb, prays to his god, Baal, planning to attack the Israelites. He is seen by Gideon’s father, Joash, who rouses the people, but it is Gideon alone who faces and defeats the enemy. Oreb willingly submits and Gideon shows mercy, to general acclamation.

Part II

The people return to the town with the good news. Old Eliakim praises Gideon and the people rejoice. Gideon, however, is inspired to follow the angel’s words, and in the night overturns the image of Baal in the sacred grove and offers sacrifice. Thunder shows that his sacrifice is acceptable.

CD 2

The priest of Baal, the next morning, sees the destruction of the image and the sacred grove and urges vengeance. Joash declares that no son of his would deny his actions. There is general dispute, but Eliakim quietens the people, urging their return to God. The priest of Baal threatens punishment, and Joash, meeting Gideon returning, warns his son of his probable fate. Gideon turns to the crowd and tells them that Baal, if he had power, should defend himself; they must turn again to God. The priest of Baal is afraid and drops his spear, while Gideon is chosen as a hero.

Part III

The priest of Baal challenges Gideon and his God. Gideon calls on God for rain, which falls, and then calls on God to send rain only to a fleece. The miracle takes place, to general wonder. A trumpet calls the Israelites to arms, and Joash looks forward to his son’s triumph. Many are willing to help, but Gideon follows divine behest by choosing only three hundred. With these men Gideon is victorious and a messenger brings news of his triumph. There is general rejoicing, and Eliakim welcomes the return of the people to God in peace.

Keith Anderson

Sources

CD 1

[1]          Ouverture:       Grave, Allegro, Menuet

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

                              The Feast of Darius (Overture)

                                                                                                                                      

Part I

[3]          Recitative:       Forth from the swarming East

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[4]          Soli and Chorus:         Comfort us, O Lord                                

                              G. F. Handel: Dixit Dominus, Ps. 109, HWV 232, No. 6: Chorus

                              Dominus a dextris

[5]          Recitative:       A man, a prophet                      

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[6]          Accompagnato:           No wonder, that ye fly

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[7]          Air:        Trembling with horror                                           

                              G. F. Handel: La Resurrezione, HWV 47, No. 6, Aria:

                              O voi dell’Erebo (Lucifero)

[8]          Chorus:             Lord, we seek thy blessing                 

                              G. F. Handel: Dixit Dominus, Ps. 109, HWV 232, No. 7: Chorus

                              De torrente in via bibet

[9]          Recitative:       Westward from reverend Jordan’s silver stream

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[10]       Accompagnato:           By doubt and shame              

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[11]       Air:        Rise with furious Emulation               

                              G. F. Handel: La Resurrezione, HWV 47, No. 28. Aria

                              Se impossibile immortale (Maddalena)

[12]       Recitative:       As thus he sung                                       

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[13]       Air:        Thou light of Israel                                                  

                              G. F. Handel: Rodrigo, HWV 5, No. 7, Aria: In mano al mio sposo (Esilena)

[14]       Accompagnato:           Let the command suffice     

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[15]       Recitative:       He said, and gently stretching out

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[16]       Solo and Chorus:       Immortal God, whose hand

                              G. F. Handel: Laudate pueri Dominum, Ps. 112, HWV 237, No. 3, Chorus

                              A solis ortu usque ad occasum

                                                                                         

[17]       Recitative:       A Midian prince

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[18]       Air:        Mighty Belus, Midian’s Glory!                           

                              G. F. Handel: Silete venti, HWV 242, No. 5, Aria: Date serta, date flores

[19]       Recitative:       This done, he with a chosen party went

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[20]       Air:        ’Tis time, my sons

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: The Feast of Darius, No. 50, Song

                              Now tune with joy (Darius)

[21]       Recitative:       Forth from the town

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[22]       Duet:   Sweet is conquest disapproving                    

                              G. F. Handel: La Resurrezione, HWV 47, No. 10, Duetto

                              Dolci chiodi, amate spine (Maddalena, Cleofe)

[23]       Trio:     Like a bright cherub                                

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

                              The Feast of Darius, No. 48, Trio:

                              Placed on a cloud (First, Second and Third Youth)

[24]       Recitative:       Then bowing mild

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[25]       Air:        May kind angels still attend thee

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: Issipile, No. ?, Aria: Care luci

[26]       Recitative:       And thus the choral band

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[27]       Chorus:            Hail, enlivener of our cause!

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: The Feast of Darius, No. 26, Chorus

                              Hail, Enliv’ner of the Heart!

               Part II

[28]       Recitative:       Triumphant to the town         

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[29]       Air:        How sweet, the rose

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: The Feast of Darius, No. 39, Song

                              How happy is the hermit’s lot (First Youth)

[30]       Solo and Chorus:       Great Jehovah

                              G. F. Handel: Dixit Dominus, Ps. 109, HWV 232, No. 4, Chorus

                              Juravit Dominus

                              Tanti strali, HWV 197, No. 12, Duetto: Dunque annoda, annoda pur, ben mio

[31]       Recitative:       Th’ Assembly rose

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[32]       Air:        Israel’s guardian, sole creator!

                              G. F. Handel: Neun deutsche Arien, HWV 205, No. 4: Süße Stille

[33]       Recitative:       Silent he march’d

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[34]       Air:        Hark, how the winds around

                              G. F. Handel: Aminta e Fillide: Arresta il passo, HWV 83, No. 1, Aria

                              Fermati, non fuggir (Aminta)

[35]       Chorus:            Destroy these idols

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: The Feast of Darius, No. 51, Chorus

                              From Time and Envy

[36]       Recitative:       Gideon, preparing now

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[37]       Accompagnato:           Not these imperfect rites      

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[38]       Air:        O glorious mortal

                              G. F. Handel: Neun deutsche Arien, HWV 203, No. 2

                              Das zitternde Glänzen

CD 2

[1]          Recitative:       At morn rose Baal’s Priest

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[2]          Accompagnato:           No more thus loud

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[3]          Trio:     From the mountain’s brow

                              G. F. Handel: Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, HWV 72, No. 11, Terzetto

                              Proverà lo sdegno (Aci, Galatea, Polifemo)

[4]          Recitative:       Here had contention drawn

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[5]          Air:        Sons of Israel, let not frenzy

                              G. F. Handel: Neun deutsche Arien, HWV 206, No. 5

                              Singe, Seele, Gott zum Preise

[6]          Recitative:       The priest still beats his breast

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[7]          Air:        Return! Tumultuous ruin shun!

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: The Feast of Darius, No. 10, Song

                              Can words the human breast control (Darius)

[8]          Recitative        While yet he spake

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[9]          Accompagnato            Furious revenge

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[10]       Chorus:            All Glory be to thee, O Lord!

                              G. F. Handel: Laudate pueri Dominum, Ps. 112, HWV 237, No. 1, Chorus

                              Laudate pueri

[11]       Recitative:       Sudden the Priest of Baal

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[12]       Solo and Chorus:       Glorious patron! Glorious hero!

                              G. F. Handel: Laudate pueri Dominum, Ps. 112, HWV 237, No. 8, Chorus

                              Gloria Patri

               Part III

[13]       Recitative:       Much I applaud, brave youth              

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[14]       Chorus:            Let Jehovah by miracle confirm

                              G. F. Handel: Dixit Dominus, Ps. 109, HWV 232, No. 6, Chorus

                              Judicabit

[15]       Recitative:       Now, while the multitude

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[16]       Accompagnato:           Thou sacred, high unutterable Name!

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[17]       Recitative:       His pray’r was heard

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[18]       Accompagnato:           Once more, my God

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[19]       Recitative:       He spoke, and it was so

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[20]       Solo and Chorus:       Happy Nation

                              G. F. Handel: Tanti strali, HWV 197,

                              No. 12, Duetto Tanti strali, von J. Chr. Smith

[21]       Recitative:       Now each rous’d soldier

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[22]       Air:        Let the trumpet’s sound inviting

                              G. F. Handel: Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, HWV 72, No. 5, Aria

                              Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto (Polifemo)

[23]       Recitative:       Let Gideon, our undaunted hero      

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[24]       Air:        Tho’ now fall’n, dismay’d

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[25]       Recitative:       Thanks to my countrymen

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[26]       Air:        From your idol gods returning

                              G. F. Handel: Neun deutsche Arien, HWV 209, No. 8

                              In den angenehmen Büschen

[27]       Recitative:       Alarm’d by frequent

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[28]       Air         In Notes of joy we hail the happy day

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[29]       Recitative:       Ye sons of Israel

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[30]       Air & Chorus:                Sing and rejoyce!

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger: The Feast of Darius, No. 15, Chorus

                              Hear and rejoice

[31]       Recitative:       To meet the hero

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[32]       Accompagnato:           Ye see, that God

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[33]       Duet:   Sweet Peace, from Heav’n descending

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[34]       Recitative:       Our hearts their confidence

                              J. Chr. Smith the Younger

[35]       Chorus:             Wondrous are thy works, O Lord!  

                              G. F. Handel: Dixit Dominus, Ps. 109, HWV 232, No. 8, Chorus

                              Gloria Patri

CD 1

Part I

[3]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Forth from the swarming East,

                              for seven long years,

               has restless Midian pour’d her swarthy hosts;

               and Canaan, horrid with erected spears,

               aw’d wretched Israel to her Western coasts;

               with these had Amalek her Standard join’d,

               the Hebrew’s first and surest foe!

               And now o’er all the land they flow,

               thick as the locusts in some living wind;

               when Israel, with dread and famine faint,

               to angry Heav’n pour’d out their deep complaint.

[4]          Soli & Chorus              

               (soprano, countertenor, tenor, bass, chorus)

               Comfort us, O Lord, to mercy prone,

               and save thy people,

               who trust in Thee alone.

[5]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               A man, a prophet, heard their mournfull cry,

               and thus exhorted them.

[6]          Accompagnato           

               (Prophet)

               No wonder that ye fly,

               and seek in caves and rocks a dark abode,

               deserted and forsaken by your God.

               Since, stubborn, for an empty idol’s sake,

               your covenant with Heav’n ye dar’d to break.

[7]          Air        

               (Prophet)

               Trembling with horror, while looking around,

               hopeless to live, yet fearing to die;

               no longer valiant than obedient found!

               Turn to your duty; and with sincerity,

               make your address before the throne;

               for this will call a blessing down.

[8]          Solo & Chorus            

               (soprano)

               Lord, we seek thy blessing in pray’r,

               (chorus)

               Jehovah, with due praise confessing.

[9]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Westward from reverend Jordan’s silver stream,

               where Ophra’s Mount salutes the morning beam,

               beneath an oak sat Gideon, and from high,

               o’er Jezreel’s fertile valley cast his eye.

               Happy enough, had this been all his view,

               had he not seen the camp of Midian too.

[10]       Accompagnato           

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               By doubt and shame, and fear, and anger press’d,

               (Gideon)

               God who ’til now, he cried,

               had fought on Israel’s side,

               leaves us abandon’d most when most distress’d.

               And must it be! – And can no help be found! –

               Said I, no help! – Dishonest sound! –

               There can, – there must, – there shall;

               – this galling yoke

               from off our necks, at one determin’d stroke,

               may still be shook in fury, or by strength be broke.

[11]       Air        

               (Gideon)

               Rise with furious Emulation,

               and trust to Heav’n to guide the blow.

               Let not Israel’s chosen nation

               joy resign for drooping woe.

[12]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               As thus he sung, then, fix’d in silence, gaz’d,

               th’unfolding Heav’ns with streamy

                              brightness blaz’d;

               he turn’d, and saw a youth divinely fair,

               sitting like some kind partner of his care.

               Near him he drew with awe and fear possess’d,

               when thus the heavenly visitor him address’d:

[13]       Air        

               (Angel)

               Thou light of Israel,

               thy sword o’er Midian shall prevail.

               Thrice happy youth! Ordain’d her guide!

               Let faith be obedient,

               and Heav’n will war on Gideon’s side.

[14]       Accompagnato           

               (Angel)

               Let the command suffice; nor reason’s eye,

               with dangerous keenness,

                              seek the darken’d “Why”.

               All curious inquisition must be spar’d,

               and nothing sought beyond what stands declar’d.

               Be not too scrupulously wise;

               Obedient faith is man’s best sacrifice.

[15]       Recitative

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               He said, and gently stretching out his hand,

               touch’d the design’d repast with his bright wand.

               When strait a flame from the dry surface broke,

               and cover’d, and consum’d th’untasted store.

               Lovely the fire rose whirling, mix’d with smoke,

               folding in glorious volumes o’er and o’er;

               and upward, on a curling cloud,

               the mounted angel bore.

               Long musing with suspense his servants stand,

               when thus at last their wonder broke its way.

[16]       Solo & Chorus            

               (soprano, chorus)

               Immortal God, whose hand

               Thy glorious name can best display!

[17]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               A Midian prince, valiant and strong,

               at Baal’s shrine now made his evening song.

[18]       Air        

               (Oreb)

               Mighty Belus, Midian’s glory!

               That proud Israel may adore thee,

               bow the haughty nation down.

[19]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               This done, he with a chosen party went,

               to climb the mountain, silent and unspied,

               that close conceal’d ’til dawn, with dire intent,

               the cohort in the craggy cliff might hide;

               ’til at the opening portal rushing in,

               surprize might force what siege would slowly win.

               But Joash, Gideon’s father, saw their spears,

               and taught experience catch’d prophetic fears.

               And thus he rous’d th’unwary multitude.

[20]       Air        

               (Joash)

               ’Tis time, my sons, in every breast

               to wake the martial fire,

               while all around

               against your peace conspire.

[21]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Forth from the town a mingled tumult swarms,

               when Gideon gave a sign that he alone

               would make the general hazard all his own.

               Hush’d was the storm; and Oreb smiling saw

               one threat’ning Hebrew near him draw.

               But smil’d in vain, when, by superior pow’r,

               vanquish’d he fell. – Then thus the conqueror:

[22]       Duet    

               (Gideon)

               Sweet is conquest

               disapproving tyrant pow’r and mercy loving;

               this a glorious triumph forms!

               (Oreb)

               Great thy conquest

               disapproving tyrant pow’r and mercy loving;

               this a glorious triumph forms!

[23]       Trio      

               (Gideon)

               Like a bright cherub, some mortal befriending,

               mercy now glides from th’empyreal throne;

               hope, her wing’d herald, glad omens portending,

               with joy and blessing this conquest to crown.

               (Oreb)

               Great is the victor, all rancour resigning,

               raising the conquer’d with unlook’d for joy;

               to the sweet dictates of mercy inclining,

               when fate vouchsafes him the pow’r to destroy.

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Thus when the night, all in darkness involving,

               holds for a while her disconsolate reign;

               sol’s radiant beams the thick vapours dissolving,

               burst through the gloom, and gives day-light again.

[24]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Then bowing mild, the generous Hebrew said:

               Fortune not always favours the most brave;

               had partial victory still sustain’d your side,

               she would have robb’d me of wish’d

                              power to save;

               and you had wrong’d a Hebrew’s heart untried.

               (Another Israelite - soprano)

               Such noble sentiments with valour join’d,

               receiv’d applause from every gratefull mind,

               when thus an Israelite inspir’d the rest:

[25]       Air        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               May kind angels still attend thee,

               from the realms of bliss above,

              

               and with blessings still befriend thee,

               sweet reward of filial love.

               Gen’rous valour when victorious

               scorns the insolence of pow’r,

               makes the hero truly glorious,

               and each virtue shine the more.

[26]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               And thus the choral band their gratitude express’d:

[27]       Chorus             

               Hail, enlivener of our cause!

               That calls for wonder and applause.

               So shall praise our songs employ,

               and crown this victory with gratefull joy.

Part II

[28]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Triumphant to the town the noisy press

               return’d with shouts, the voice of good success.

               The reverend elders, o’er the city gate,

               sate wisely busied in serene debates,

               on questions which concern’d the good

               of Ophra’s little state.

               These finish’d; thus Eliakim, the senate’s tongue,

               in every listening ear, to Gideon sung.

[29]       Air        

               (Eliakim)

               How sweet the rose in Sharon’s dale!

               And sweet the lillies of the vale!

               More sweet the incense of due praise,

               that gratefull minds to virtue raise.

               (Ne’er may thy blooming glory fade,

               nor feel a blast from envy’s shade:

               Tall as the cedar may it rise,

               and still encreasing reach the skies.)

              

[30]       Soli & Chorus              

               (soprano, countertenor, tenor, bass, chorus)

               (Fear not, be bold, and prosper;

               and Heaven shall raise thy name

               from this bright dawn of fame and glory.)

               Great Jehovah shall reward thee,

               and immortalize thy claim to glory.

[31]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Th’assembly rose, and the remains of day

               were in diffusive pastime nois’d away,

               ’til night at length the rage of joy suppress‘d,

               and weary tumult hush’d herself to rest.

               But Gideon’s active mind was form’d to wake;

               his new gain’d honour, and the angel’s Hail,

               now suffer’d him no rest to take,

               but led him o’er the grounds

                              through night’s dark veil,

               when thus he Heav’n address’d:

[32]       Air        

               (Gideon)

               Israel’s guardian, sole creator!

               Let not idol faith prevail,

               nor, O mighty Lord of Nature,

               this my glorious purpose fail.

[33]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Silent he march’d to the devoted grove;

               his chosen few with emulation strove,

               ’til low was laid the monarch of the wood,

               an aged oak, that in the centre stood.

               He next with zealous transport drew his sword,

               and cleav’d the idol image long ador’d.

               On either side the parted godhead fell,

               when, startled, cried a son of Israel:

[34]       Air        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Hark! Hark! – How the winds around,

              

               with echoing sound,

               spreading the notes of woe,

               rising from caves below,

               pierce my soul with pleasing dread.

               While from the groves the daemons press,

               sighing forth their sore distress.

              

[35]       Chorus             

               Destroy these idols, and henceforth new altars raise

               to a diviner pow’r, and more exalted praise.

[36]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Gideon, preparing now the sacrifice,

               made apt libation in the hissing flame,

               and prostrate bow’d to pray:

[37]       Accompagnato & Recitative

               (Gideon)

               Not these imperfect rites,

                              Lord of the Heart, despise;

               call them ablution, and let Israel’s shame

               be, from this time, for ever wash’d away.

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               He said, when strait through Heav’n loud

               thunder roar’d,

               confirming thus the grace the hero had implor’d.

               The servants humbly to their patron kneel;

               and thus their joy in transport they reveal:

[38]       Air        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               O glorious mortal, thus approv’d,

               thus by the court of Heav’n belov’d!

               Ordain’d lost Israel to restore!

               For Gideon’s God is God alone.

               No idols could e’er appear in flame,

               or with such signs their might proclaim.

               In hallow’d groves there is no pow’r,

               nor strength in sculptur’d stone.

CD 2

[1]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               At morn rose Baal’s Priest, and scarce believ’d

               th’alarming witness which his senses bore;

               fearing, yet longing to be undeceiv’d,

               he sought the grove; but now a grove no more.

               And having gaz’d o’er the deserted ground,

               (and view’d th’accomplish’d desolation round,)

               where not a remnant of his god was to be found,

               he, where the senate now was met, rush’d in,

               and urg’d due vengeance on the horrid sin.

               It must be Gideon’s daring hand alone,

               he cried, who this atrocious deed hath done.

               When Joash, slowly rising from his seat,

               soft to th’impatient priest this answer made:

[2]          Accompagnato           

               (Joash)

               No more thus loud thy boistrous pray’r repeat,

               heard were thy words, and shall be duly weigh’d.

               No son of mine, I think, has yet been known

               actor of any deed he dar’d not own.

 

[3]          Trio      

               (Priest of Baal)

               From the mountain’s brow, ye daemons,

               headlong hurl the monster down,

               who your shrines hath thus polluted,

               and your sacred groves o’erthrow’n.

               (1st Israelite - soprano)

               Cease your anger, cease your folly,

               for vain idols to contend! –

               Impious, barbarous, most cruel!

               Would you sacrifice a friend?

               (2nd Israelite - countertenor)

               Why so frantic; why so furious?

               In vain you strive t’insult that pow’r,

               and his almighty arm defy,

               Weak the daemons of the land.

               No pow’r can his withstand.

              

               Tis in vain with him to vye.

               Vain the idols you adore.

[4]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Here had contention drawn a crimson flood,

               and civil fury stain’d her face with blood.

               But mild Eliakim, who cooly dar’d,

               whose heart at once was cautious and prepar’d,

               taught them by speechless signs

                              how madness err’d;

               and in soft accents charm’d the gaping herd.

[5]          Air        

               (Eliakim)

               Sons of Israel, let not frenzy

               thus transport your honest minds.

               Frantic zeal is blind and vain:

               Turn to God;

               all his laws are sure and plain.

               Who a blessing seeks, a blessing finds.

[6]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               The priest still beats his breast, his vestment rends,

               and to the crew his idol-gods defends.

               When Gideon now, returning from the plain,

               appear’d, victorious.

               To meet him, trembling at the sight,

               the tender father flies;

               tells the near danger, and with wat’ry eyes

               thus the safe counsel of his love applies.

[7]          Air        

               (Joash)

               Return! – Tumultuous ruin shun;

               behold thy father’s tears, my son,

               nor daring, add a heavier weight,

               to make him witness of thy dreadfull fate.

               Blast not the blessing unenjoy’d. –

               Go, seek the field, by Heav’n employ’d.

[8]          Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               While yet he spake, the noise grew great and loud,

               and rising dust proclaim’d the threatning croud.

               Gideon observ’d it, and with pious care,

               thus generous interrupts his father’s pray’r:

[9]          Accompagnato           

               (Gideon)

               Furious revenge toils hard for fruitless ends:

               He must not, cannot fall, whom God defends.

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Then with high voice and awefull mien,

               thus to the crouwd reproachfull:

               (Gideon)

               Say whence could all this waste of anger flow?

               Did it to Baal such great transport owe?

               Why does not Baal his own foes subdue?

               Omniscience sure, like his, th’ Offender knew.

               Rash fools! By blind and feeble zeal betray’d!

               Are men their God’s protector made?

               Oh what a different and almighty Lord,

               your fathers once ador’d!

               No help from earth our great Jehovah drew;

               from his own hand the balefull lightnings flew.

[10]       Solo & Chorus            

               (soprano, chorus)

               All glory be to thee, O Lord!

[11]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Sudden the Priest of Baal, who stood near,

               felt his joynts loosen, with resistless fear,

               and dropt insensibly his useless spear.

               The sacred twelve to the young hero press’d,

               laid on his head their hands,

               and his great purpose bless’d,

               and thus their praise to him and Heav’n address’d:

              

[12]       Solo & Chorus            

               (soprano, chorus)

               Glorious patron! Glorious hero!

               The delight of Heav’n confess’d!

               Blessed be, O Lord, thy holy name,

               for ever and ever!

               Amen.

Part III

[13]       Recitative        

               (Priest of Baal)

               Much I applaud, brave youth, your generous aim:

               And yet beware, lest ardent thirst of fame

               disguise ambition with religion’s name.

               Great was this God; if what we hear from you,

               be not far more traditional than true.

               If some new wonder he would now unfold,

               ’t would more convince than all th’uncertain old.

[14]       Chorus             

               Let Jehovah by miracle

               confirm his mighty pow’r;

               and trembling, we will doubt no more.

[15]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Now, while the multitude attentive gaz’d,

               expectant and amaz’d,

               Gideon invok’d that God,

               who his new hope had rais’d:

[16]       Accompagnato           

               (Gideon)

               Thou sacred, high, unutterable Name!

               If by thy servant’s weak and worthless hand

               thou wilt save Israel, and her pow’r increase;

               let show’ry rains descend at thy command,

               and nothing dry remain, but this soft fleece.

[17]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               His pray’r was heard, and with applausive voice,

               the People shout to Heav’n their raging joys.

[18]       Accompagnato           

               (Gideon)

               Once more, my God, (cried Gideon),

                              yet once more

               indulge the varied sign their doubts implore.

               Call off these rains, unfloat the delug’d ground,

               and when all else is dry,

                              wet let this fleece be found.

[19]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               He spoke, and it was so, – when, struck with awe,

               the raptur’d crowd these mighty wonders saw;

               and with joint voices thus their joy express’d.

[20]       Soli & Chorus              

               (soprano, countertenor, bass, tenor, chorus)

               Happy Nation, who this treasure

               labour gratefull to improve.

               Ev’ry comfort, ev’ry pleasure

               springs from harmony and love.

[21]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - countertenor)

               Now each rous’d soldier, prompt to war’s alarms,

               strong, for the notic’d movement, girds his feet;

               and the shrill startling trumpet sounds to arms,

               when all, obedient to the signal,

               at their standard meet,

               and Joash thus his ardent hopes express’d:

[22]       Air        

               (Joash)

               Let the trumpet’s sound inviting,

               with due courage all exciting,

               set the battle in array.

               By the angel’s voice exhorted,

               by th’Almighty’s arm supported,

               Gideon shall his pow’r display.

[23]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Let Gideon, our undaunted hero, lead,

               and Israel no hostile arms shall dread.

[24]       Air        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Tho’ now fall’n, dismay’d, confounded,

               and with numerous foes surrounded,

               dark designing,

               and combining,

               all their threatnings we despise.

               On thy prowess still relying,

               and with Heav’n’s command complying,

               thus respected and protected,

               Sion shall more glorious rise.

[25]       Recitative        

               (Gideon)

               Thanks to my countrymen, your ready will

               demands your leader’s just applause;

               but the Almighty, who approves our cause,

               in vision bade me his behests fulfill:

               Three hundred to select, and ask no more,

               to manifest his all sufficient pow’r.

[26]       Air        

               (Gideon)

               From your idol gods returning,

               now be brave, his power discerning,

               who alone rules earth and sky, –

               Universal Lord of Nature.

               Who in numbers put their trust,

               build weak models in the dust.

               He their schemes at pleasure blasting,

               he, whose strength is everlasting.

               They in vain on man rely!

[27]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Alarm’d by frequent and encreasing shouts,

               the senate sate, ’til with this joyful tale,

               a messenger arriv’d, and clear’d their doubts:

               (Messenger)

               Hail, reverend fathers; and great Joash, hail!

               Thrice happy in a matchless son;

               expression fails, to tell the wonders he hath done.

               The chosen few, appointed by the Lord,

               return victorious with unbloodied sword.

               Soon as their lamps disclos’d a horrid blaze,

               the Midianitish host, with wild amaze,

               fled, and in flying, one another slew.

               Thus fell the friendly Oreb with his train,

               and Zeb, who only warr’d in thirst of gain;

               Zeba, the insolent, and rashly brave;

               nor could extensive pow’r the proud

                              Zalmunna save.

[28]       Air        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               In notes of joy we hail the happy day,

               that shews us, if we will be blest we may.

               Heav’n, ever gracious, hath new proof display’d;

               his faithfull servants ne’er shall want his aid.

               Let not our love and earnest care be less;

               ’tis ours to labour, as ’tis Heaven’s to bless.

[29]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Ye sons of Israel,

               lend action every gratefull pow’r ye can,

               words are too weak to thank the godlike man,

               whose ardent wish here terminates alone,

               to make the people’s happiness his own.

[30]       Air & Chorus                                                              (soprano, chorus)

               Sing and rejoyce, the hero proclaiming,

               whose conquest with glory is crown’d;

               no longer the pow’r of Jehovah defaming,

               with ardour his altars surround.

[31]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               To meet the hero mid wild triumph’s noise,

               ungovernably wanton in their joys,

               the Priest of Baal, as he past along,

               leaping and dancing led the shouting throng,

              

               converted to the other, best extreme,

               the praise of Israel’s God was now their theme.

[32]       Accompagnato           

               (Eliakim)

               Ye see, that God his Israel secures.

               Let Baal perish! Gideon’s God be yours.

               Above all other deities,

               he only rules who made the skies.

               ’Tis he, who maketh wars to cease,

               and blesseth nations with the sweets of peace.

[33]       Duet    

               (soprano, countertenor)

               Sweet Peace, from Heav’n descending,

               our gloomy sorrows ending,

               here spread thy silver wings.

               So shall harmonious pleasure

               still heighten every treasure,

               that plenteous comfort brings.

[34]       Recitative        

               (An Israelite - soprano)

               Our hearts their confidence repos’d

               in God our strength and shield;

               in him we trusted and return’d

               triumphant from the field.

               To him, who made our joys complete,

               ’tis just that we should raise

               the chearfull tribute of our thanks,

               and thus again resound his praise.

[35]       Soli & Chorus              

               (soprano, tenor, chorus)

               Wond’rous, great and wond’rous are

                              thy works, O Lord.

               We trust in thy salvation.

               Ophra, first bless’d, shall bless thy Holy Land,

               and make happy thy faithfull chosen nation.

               Amen.

               FINIS


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