DRAMA / PER MUSICA, / Welches / Bei dem Allerhöchsten / Geburts-Feste / Der / Allerdurchlauchtigsten und Gross- / mächtigsten / Königin in Polen / und / Churfürstin zu Sachsen / in unterthänigster Ehrfurcht / aufgeführet wurde / in dem / COLLEGIO MUSICO / Durch / J. S. B. Musical drama, which was performed on the most elevated birthday celebration of the most serene and most mighty Queen of Poland and Electress of Saxony in most submissive reverence in the Collegium Musicum by J. S. B.
1. Irene, Bellona, Pallas, Fama1
Tönet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!
Klingende Saiten, erfüllet die Luft!
Singet itzt Lieder, ihr muntren Poeten,
Königin lebe! wird fröhlich geruft.
   Königin lebe! dies wünschet der Sachse,
   Königin lebe und blühe und wachse!
1. Irene, Bellona, Pallas, Fama
Sound forth, you drums; ring out, trumpets.
Sonorous strings, fill the air.
Sing songs now, you blithe poets,
“Long live the Queen!” is cheerfully called out.
   “Long live the Queen!”—the Saxon wishes this;
   “Long live the Queen and blossom and flourish!”2
2. Irene
Heut ist der Tag,
Wo jeder sich erfreuen mag.
Dies ist der frohe Glanz
Der Königin Geburts-Fests-Stunden,
Die Polen, Sachsen und uns ganz
In grösster Lust und Glück erfunden.
Mein Ölbaum
Kriegt3 so Saft als fetten Raum.
Er zeigt noch keine falbe Blätter;
Mich schreckt kein Sturm, Blitz, trübe Wolken, düstres Wetter.
2. Irene
Today is the day
On which everyone may rejoice.
This is the cheerful splendor
Of the Queen’s birthday-celebration hours
That have found Poles, Saxons, and all of us
In greatest delight and fortune.
My olive tree
Yields both oil and rich ointment;4
It shows yet no pallid leaves;
No storm, lightning, dark clouds, gloomy weather frightens me.
3. Bellona
Blast die wohlgegriffnen Flöten,
Dass Feind, Lilien, Mond erröten!
Schallt mit jauchzendem Gesang!
Tönt mit eurem Waffenklang!
Dieses Fest erfordert Freuden,
Die so Geist als Sinnen weiden.
3. Bellona
Blow the well-fingered flutes5
So that enemy, fleur-de-lis,6 moon7 may blush;8
Make noise [you flutes] with jubilant song;
Sound forth with your weaponry-clangor.9
This celebration calls for joys
That feed both spirit and senses.
4. Bellona
Mein knallendes Metall,
Der in der Luft erbebenden Cartauen;10
Der frohe Schall;
Das angenehme Schauen;
Die Lust, die Sachsen itzt empfindt,
Rührt vieler Menschen Sinnen.
Mein schimmerndes Gewehr
Nebst meiner Söhne gleichen Schritten
Und ihre heldenmässge Sitten
Vermehren immer mehr und mehr
Des heutgen Tages süsse Freude.
4. Bellona
My roaring metal
Of the air-quaking demicannons,11
The joyous noise,
The pleasant spectacle,
The delight that Saxony now feels,
Stirs the senses of many a person.
My gleaming armament
Alongside my sons’ even paces
And their heroic customs
Increase ever more and more
The sweet joy of the present day.
5. Pallas
Fromme Musen! meine Glieder!
Singt nicht längst bekannte Lieder!
Dieser Tag sei eure Lust!
Füllt mit Freuden eure Brust!
Werft so Kiel als Schriften nieder!
Und erfreut euch dreimal wieder!
5. Pallas
Faithful Muses, members [of] my [coterie],12
Do not sing long-known songs.
Let this day be your delight.
Fill your breast with joy;
Cast down both quill and writings
And rejoice three times over.
6. Pallas
Unsre Königin im Lande,
Die der Himmel zu uns sandte,
Ist der Musen-Trost und Schutz.
Meine Pierinnen13 wissen,
Die in Ehrfurcht ihren Saum noch küssen,
Vor ihr stetes Wohlergehn
Dank und Pflicht und Ton stets zu erhöhn.
Ja, sie wünschen, dass ihr Leben
Möge lange Lust uns geben.
6. Pallas
Our Queen in this land,
Whom heaven sent to us,
Is the Muses’ consolation and protection.
My Pierians [Muses],
Who yet kiss her hem in reverence,
Do know, for her continued welfare,
To continually lift up thanks and duty and sound.
Yes, they wish that her life
May long give us delight.
7. Fama
Kron und Preis gekrönter Damen,
Königin! mit deinem Namen
Füll ich diesen Kreis der Welt.
   Was der Tugend stets gefällt
   Und was nur Heldinnen haben,
   Sein14 dir angeborne Gaben.
7. Fama
“Crown and praise15 of crowned ladies,”
Queen, with your name
I fill this earthly globe.
   That which always pleases virtue
   And that which only heroines possess
   Are gifts innate to you.
8. Fama
So dringe in das weite Erdenrund
Mein von der Königin erfüllter Mund!
Ihr Ruhm soll bis zum Axen16
Des schön gestirnten Himmels wachsen,
Die Königin der Sachsen und der Polen
Sei stets des Himmels Schutz empfohlen.
So stärkt durch sie der Pol
So vieler Untertanen längst erwünschtes Wohl.
So soll die Königin noch lange bei uns hier verweilen;
Und spät, ach! spät zum Sternen17 eilen.
8. Fama
Thus unto the wide earthly orb
May my mouth press forward, filled with [praise of] the Queen.
Her renown shall flourish as far as the axes
Of beautifully star-bedecked heaven;
May the Queen of the Saxons and of the Poles
Be ever commended to heaven’s protection.
Thus the pole [of the earthly-heavenly axes]18 bolsters, by her,
The wellbeing long desired by so many subjects.
Thus shall the Queen long tarry with us here,
And late, ah, late, hasten to the stars.
9. Irene
Blühet, ihr Linden in Sachsen, wie Zedern!
Schallet mit Waffen und Wagen und Rädern!
Singet, ihr Musen, mit völligem Klang!
Fröhliche Stunden, ihr freudigen Zeiten!
Gönnt uns noch öfters die güldenen Freuden:
Königin, lebe, ja lebe noch lang!19
9. Irene
Blossom, you lindens in Saxony, like cedars.20
Make noise with weapons and chariots and wheels.21
Sing, you muses,22 with full clangor.
Cheerful hours, you joyous times!
Grant us yet again and again the golden joys:
“Long live the Queen, yes live yet long!”
(transl. Michael Marissen & Daniel R. Melamed)

1 Irene is the Greek goddess of peace (Pax to the Romans); Bellona is the Roman goddess of war; Pallas Athena (Minerva to the Romans) is the Greek goddess of war, wisdom, weaving, and chastity; Fama (Pheme, or Rumor to the Romans) was the Greek personification of fame, renown, and rumor. In this Drama per Musica for the birthday of Maria Josepha (1699-1757), Saxon Electress and Queen of Poland on 8 December 1733, all four speaking characters are female.

2 The words rendered here in quotation marks are in larger type in the original printed libretto, probably implying that these are to be understood as quoted words. In movement 7 the words “Kron und Preis gekrönter Damen!” are printed the same way, as is the last line of the cantata, “Königin, lebe, ja lebe noch lang.” All these, too, are presumably to be understood as quoted words. The libretto also usually singles out “Königin,” “Sachsen,” and “Polen,” presumably for respectful emphasis rather than as quotations.

3 Here “kriegen” is an archaic synonym for “gewinnen” (“to yield”). This is the way the word was used, for example, in Psalm 107:37, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “… Weinberge pflanzen möchten, und die Jährliche Früchte kriegeten” (“[they] might plant vineyards, and might yield the yearly fruit”).

4 In this context, “fetten Raum” does not mean “spacious room” or “fertile ground.” “Raum” is an archaic synonym for “Rahm” (“milk-cream,” here a metaphor for “olive-cream/ointment”), employed to effect a rhyme with “Baum.” Irene, the goddess of peace (see fn. 1, above), speaks of the olive tree because it is a symbol of peace; her tree is extremely fecund and therefore well able to foster peace.

5 “Blasen” (“blow”) and “griffen” (literally, “grip”) are the verbs used for the playing of woodwind instruments. “Fingering charts,” indicating which holes to cover to produce each of the notated pitches in an instrument’s range, are called “Grifftabellen” (literally, “grip-tables”) in German.

6 This is a reference to “die drei Lilien” (“the three lilies”) of the fleur-de-lis that was used by the French as a symbol of their kingdom. The libretto of Bach’s Cantata 215 claims that Saxony is fortunate, in the face of the threatening “power of the French,” to have Maria Josepha and her husband as rulers.

7 This is a reference to the “Halbmond” (“crescent moon”) used by the Turks as a symbol of their power. The librettos of Bach’s Cantatas 18 and 126 express strong contempt for Turks.

8 In one of its early eighteenth-century uses, the flute was strongly associated with the military and military men, and its sound might thus be expected to discomfit enemies.

9 Bach’s Cantata 215 also connects flutes with weaponry.

10 To make a cleaner rhyme with “Schauen,” the original sources employed not “Cartaunen” or “Carthaunen” but the alternative spelling “Carthauen.”

11 Technically, the “Cartaune”—from the Latin “quartana” (“of the fourth size”)—was shorter and smaller than what was called a “Kanone” (“cannon”). In eighteenth-century England the artillery piece analogous to the Cartaune was called a “demicannon.”

12 Pallas Athena was associated with the nine Muses, but technically she was not a member of what was called “das Musenchor” (“the choir of [the nine] muses,” led by Apollo). In line 3 of movement 9, below, Pallas further addresses her coterie members, the choir of muses, about the manner in which they should sing. That is, the choir of four characters performing this cantata—Irene, Bellona, Pallas, and Fama—are neither literally nor metaphorically members of the choir of muses. In the cantatas BWV 1162 (formerly Anh. 18) and 207.2 (formerly 207a), however, the expression “Musenchor” does turn up as a metaphor for Bach’s own ensembles. BWV 1162 was designed for the reinauguration of the Thomas School, in 1732; since schools and universities were sometimes called a “Musensitz” (“seat of the muses”), it made good sense for the librettist to call Bach’s Thomas-School choir a “Musenchor” in those works. In Bach’s “Hercules” cantata BWV 213 the closing ensemble aria is in the voice of the “Chor der Musen.”

13 The “Pierinnen” are the Muses, said to have been born in Pieria.

14 “Sein” (spelled “seyn” in the original sources), as used here, is a regional form of “sind.”

15 “Preis” here is most probably short for “Lobpreis,” as it is in the expression “Gott zum Preis und Ehren” (“to the praise and honor of God”).

16 “Die Axe” is an archaic spelling of “die Achse” (“the axis”); “zum Axen” is probably a regional form of “zu den Achsen” (plural), not a grammatically confused rendering of “zur Achse” (singular).

17 “Zum Sternen” (rather than the plural form “zu den Sternen”) is a German equivalent of the aphorism “[per aspera] ad astra” (“through tribulations to the stars”).

18 The axis implied here is an imaginary straight line around which the earth rotates, and the axes of the heavens were thought to revolve around the extension of this line. The “poles” are the top and bottom ends of an axis (e.g., the North and South Poles are the ends of the earthly axis). The idea in the cantata, apparently, is that since the Queen’s renown will flourish from pole to pole on the linked earthly-heavenly axes, heaven’s blessings will be visited upon her Saxon and Polish subjects. “Der Pol” might additionally refer to natives of Poland. (“Der Pol” means “the pole [of an axis]”; “der Pole” means “the [male] Polish person,” and poetically clipping its second syllable would yield “der Pol.”)

19 The printed libretto appears to attribute the last three lines to Fama, but the typography, with the last line in larger type following the colon in the previous line, suggests that two lines might belong to Fama and the last to all the characters. Bach takes neither of these positions, setting the three last lines for all four voices throughout.

20 The “lindens” (or, “lime trees”) represent the city of Leipzig, whose name means “settlement where the lime trees stand”; the text here (see also the last line in movement 1) draws on Psalm 92:13-15, which in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day reads “Der Gerechte … wird wachsen wie eine Zeder auf Libanon … Und wenn sie gleich alt werden, werden sie dennoch blühen, fruchtbar und frisch sein” (“The righteous one will flourish like a cedar on [the mountain range called] Lebanon … And even when [the cedars] become old, they will nevertheless blossom, be fruitful and fresh”). By using this language, the poet declares that the city of Leipzig is “righteous.”

21 Bellona, true to her character, uses language of battle; but to speak, even poetically, of making noise with “chariots and wheels” (i.e., as if chariots might generate sound apart from the noise of wheels) may seem a bit strange. The quirky language of this line appears to be derived from Ezekiel 23:24, which in Luther Bibles of Bach’s day is sometimes given as “Und werden über dich kommen, gerüstet mit Wagen und Rädern” (“And [the enemies] will overcome you, armed with chariots and wheels”), and sometimes as “… gerüst mit Wagen und Reutern” (“… armed with chariots and horsemen”). The precise meaning of the original Hebrew is nigh inscrutable, but the librettist of Cantata 214 seems to be closely familiar with the verse’s problems, as the phrase “mit Waffen und Wagen und Rädern” may well be a better approximation of the Hebrew in Ezekiel 23:24 than Luther’s. Remarking on the various sounds of attacking forces, including their chariot-wheels, Isaiah 5:28-29, in the Luther Bibles of Bach’s day, says that “seiner Rossen Hufe sind wie Felsen geachtet, und ihre Wagenräder wie ein Sturmwind; sie brüllen wie Löwen” (“his horses’ hooves are taken heed of as [being as hard as] rocks, and their chariot-wheels as a windstorm; they roar, as lions”).

22 On the “choir of muses,” see fn. 12, above.