Drei geistliche Lieder, Op. 96 (Felix Mendelssohn)

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  • (Posted 2016-09-11)  CPDL #41094:  German   English   MusicXML  
Editor: Nikolaus Hold (submitted 2016-09-11).   Score information: A4, 16 pages, 299 kB   Copyright: CC BY NC
Edition notes: Complete MWV B 33. I have to thank Rafael Ornes. I used his beautiful editions of the first two parts as a starting point. The English version uses the original verses of Charles Bayles Broadley.
  • (Posted 2015-05-28)  CPDL #35588:       
Editor: Johannes Becker (submitted 2015-05-28).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 167 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: MWV B 33, Vocal parts only, second part without Solo at beginning.

General Information

Title: English: Anthem "Why, O Lord, delay for ever"
German: Drei geistliche Lieder, WoO 14 or Hymne, Op. 96 or Drei geistliche Lieder und Fuge, Op. 96
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Lyricist: Charles Bayles Broadleycreate page

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB, with alto solo
Genre: SacredAnthem

Languages: English, German
Instruments: Organ or orchestra: 2221-22-tymp str.

First published: 1840
Description:  There are 2 versions of this 3-part work by Mendelssohn:

  • Anthem „Why, O Lord, delay for ever“ („Drei geistliche Lieder“), MWV B 33 or WoO 14 and
  • Anthem „Why, O Lord, delay for ever“ („Hymne“ oder „Drei geistliche Lieder und Fuge“), MWV A 19 or Op. 96.

MWV A 19 is the orchestrated version of MWV B 33, expanded by a fugue, but the other vocal parts remained virtually unchanged. Since existing editions in the CPDL have only organ accompaniment (until now), a demarcation between editions of the two works would be rather difficult - apart from the final fugue - and therefore was not even tried.

Both works are brainchilds of Dr. Charles Bayles Broadley (1800-1866), Deputy Queen's professor of civil law at Trinity College, Cambridge. Using his composition teacher Ignaz Moscheles as an intermediary, he commissioned Mendelssohn to set one of his own metrical Psalm paraphrases to music (for 20 guineas).

Mendelssohn chose Psalm 13 for a setting of Solo, Chorus and Organ and published - simultaneously with the print of the English version by Cramer and Co. in London - a German version by Simrock in Bonn.

By the success Broadley’s ambitions only got bigger. Now he intended to publish settings of three of his Psalms by the leading composers of his time. To this end, he issued further commissions to Moscheles and Spohr and asked Mendelssohn to orchestrate his Psalm (for 10 guineas).

Once again Mendelssohn accepted and was able to write on 16 January 1843 to Moscheles: "Enclosed you will receive a score for Mr. Broadley. I have added him a extra fugue, and think this is now the best part of the whole. It is like small shopkeepers gives you an extra gingerbread in the purchase." (Original: “Es ist, wie wenn Einem die kleinen Krämer einen Pfefferkuchen in den Kauf geben.” If you have a better translation, feel free to replace my noobish one.)

This orchestral version was printed finally five years after the composer's death as a "Hymn" op. 96 (Simrock, Bonn 1852, now labeled MWV A 19).

Ironically, not all English speakers were happy with Broadley’s verses. Already since 1887, Novello and Company issued a version with text of Rev. J. Troutbeck, D.D. “Lord, how long wilt Thou forget me?”. And in the CPDL you can find a version of the first part transcribed from the Church Anthem Book of the Church of Scotland „Lord, I flee to Thee for refuge“.

For further information look at the individual movements.

Movements in this work

1Lass’, o Herr, mich Hülfe finden
2Deines Kinds Gebet erhöre
3Herr, wir trau’n auf deine Güte – Movement No. 3 with fugue)

External websites:

Original text and translations

See individual movements for texts and translations.