Recording: North German Radio Chorus, conducted by Günter Jena [DG 449 646-2]
Published 1862.

These choral songs fall somewhere between the secular partsongs and the sacred motets.  They were actually published earlier than the first a cappella examples of either genre, and are thus the first published a cappella choral works (they had been preceded by Opp. 12, 13, and 17, all accompanied).  Originally conceived for Brahms’s women’s chorus, the alto parts proved to be impossibly low (something that can be seen in women’s choruses like Op. 37), so he changed the settings to mixed chorus.  The religious texts are folksongs from such sources as Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Kretzschmer-Zuccalmaglio, and Uhland.  The “cult” of the virgin was an important topic in German folklore, and these rather naïve texts use German, not Judean imagery.  Two of the songs (Nos. 1 and 4) deal with the annunciation.  Another two (Nos. 2 and 3) with fanciful journeys of Mary.  No 5 is a prayer, No. 7 a song of praise.  Finally, No. 6 deals with another “Mary” associated with Easter, not Christmas.  The settings are mostly strophic, syllabic, and quite simple, but the first five contain “surprises.”  In No. 1, the final stanza is given a new, imitative setting.  No. 2 has an onomatopoeic “bell” passage in the middle.  No. 3 markedly sets off its stern and aphoristic final stanza to utterly different music.  No. 4 has a “hunting horn” middle section, and No. 5 again varies the beginning of its final stanza.  Only Nos. 6 and 7 are in pure simple strophic form.  All (except the first stanza of No. 6) begin with upbeats, the first four with strong ascents.  The rather unadventurous bass parts (with the exception of the bells in No. 2, where the basses notably sit out in the outer sections) are perhaps indicative of their earlier conception for women’s chorus.  The tenor parts, in contrast, are quite colorful.  Brahms made arrangements of the original folk melodies of Nos. 3 and 4, the former in his huge and very late collection for voice and piano, the latter closing the published folksong collection for chorus (roughly contemporary with this set).  Neither of these collections has an opus number.

Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezust’s site at  For the most part, the translations are line-by-line, except where the difference between German and English syntax requires slight alterations to the contents of certain lines.  The German texts (included here) are also visible in the translation links.

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck--includes voice parts)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
No. 1: Der englische Gruß
No. 2: Marias Kirchgang
No. 3: Marias Wallfahrt
No. 4: Der Jäger
No. 5: Ruf zur Maria
No. 6: Magdalena
No. 7: Marias Lob

1. Der englische Gruß (The Angelic Salutation).  Folksong text.  Con moto.  Simple strophic form with varied final strophe.  E-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time.

German Text:
Gegrüßet, Maria, du Mutter der Gnaden!
So sangen die Engel der Jungfrau Maria
In ihrem Gebete, darinnen sie rang.

Maria, du sollst einen Sohn empfangen,
Darnach tun Himmel und Erde verlangen,
Daß du die Mutter des Herren sollst sein.

O Engel, wie mag ich das erleben,
Ich habe mich noch keinem Manne ergeben
In dieser weiten und breiten Welt.

Wie Tau kommt über die Blumenmatten,
So soll dich der heilige Geist überschatten;
So soll der Heiland geboren sein.

Maria die höret solches gerne,
Sie sprach: ich bin eine Magd des Herren,
Nach deinem Worte geschehe mir!

Die Engel (nun) sanken auf ihre Knie,
Sie sangen alle: Maria, Maria,
Sie sangen Maria den Lobgesang.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1, line 1.  The altos and tenors begin with an upbeat in “horn fifth” harmony.  After one bar, the sopranos enter in near-contrary motion.  The altos and tenors repeat “Gegrüßet.”  A bar later still, the basses enter with an arching line, coming in with the other voices on the word “Maria.”  The voices all finish the five-bar phrase together.  It is then repeated in its entirety, with a pause indicated at the end.  The voices sing strongly from the beginning, only diminishing a bit at the end of each statement.
0:22 [m. 11]--Stanza 1, lines 2-3.  The voices sing line 2 to a more tension-filled four-bar phrase that moves to B-flat major and F major through the circle of fifths.  The basses, then the tenors, have prominent long-short rhythms.  The last line shifts immediately back to E-flat and begins at a sudden quiet level.  It is another five-bar phrase.  It swells rapidly about halfway through as the basses have a prominent descending motion and the word “darinnen” is repeated.  The verse closes joyously with the sopranos soaring upward.
0:44 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2, line 1.  In this verse, the altos and tenors repeat “Maria” at the outset and the basses enter on “Du sollst.”  The single syllable “Sohn” is sung where the two-syllable “Mutter” had been before.  In fact, the first stanza is the only one where these notes set two syllables.
1:04 [m. 11]--Stanza 2, lines 2-3.  Here, the two-syllable “darnach” is sung on the notes used in strophe 1 for the three-syllable “so sangen.”  In the third line, the one-syllable “du” is sung where the two-syllable “ihrem” was placed before.  The repeated syllables are “die Mutter,” which take place on earlier notes than did the strophe 1 “darinnen.”
1:26 [m. 20]--Stanza (strophe) 3, line 1.  In most editions, new notes are printed for stanzas 3-5.  The repeated alto and tenor words are “O Engel.”  The basses enter on “wie mag.”  The line is two syllables shorter than in stanza 1, so the word “mag” is set to notes previously used for two syllables.  The word “das” is set as was “Sohn” in stanza 2.  The music for these stanzas has more slurs, suggesting a smoother presentation than in stanzas 1 and 2.  In this performance, it begins more quietly, perhaps to distinguish the words of Mary.
1:46 [m. 30]--Stanza 3, lines 2-3.  In stanzas 3-5, the basses omit their long-short rhythm and replace it with straight notes, here heard on “habe.”  The repeated syllables in the third line are “in dieser.”  The second statement of these words sets the first syllable of “dieser” to two notes, the only time in all the stanzas where these particular notes are given to only one syllable.  Also in stanzas 3-5, the penultimate measure has only one syllable on the first two beats (in contrast to stanzas 1-2).  Here it is the first syllable of “breiten.”
2:09 [m. 20]--Stanza (strophe) 4, line 1.  The repeated alto and tenor words are “Wie Tau.”  This is a syllable short from the previous verses.  In the first statement, the word “Tau” is sung to two notes.  In the second, the following word, “kommt,” is the one that is stretched to more notes.  The basses enter with that word, this time a beat behind the altos and tenors (since they lengthen that word), but still with the sopranos.  The setting of “Blumen-” follows the lead of the previous two stanzas.
2:28 [m. 30]--Stanza 4, lines 2-3.  The second line follows the pattern of stanza 3, with the basses singing straight notes on “soll dich.”  The repeated syllables in the third line are “der Heiland.”  The word “soll” is set to two notes, matching the corresponding pattern of stanza 2 rather than 1 or 3.  The penultimate measure again has one syllable on the first two beats, in this case the middle syllable of “geboren.”
2:51 [m. 20]--Stanza (strophe) 5, line 1.  As in stanza 2, the repeated alto/tenor word is “Maria.”  The basses enter on “die höret.”  As in stanza 3, the next syllable after that is stretched to two beats.  It is the first syllable of “höret.”  The setting of “solches” follows stanzas 2-4.
3:12 [m. 30]--Stanza 5, lines 2-3.  The singers normally make a brief pause after “sie sprach” in order to set off the “she said” quotation.    This makes the straight notes in the basses particularly effective in this verse.  Here, the second line is two syllables shorter than in stanzas 3 or 4.  This results in “eine” and “Magd” being stretched to more notes.  Because the basses normally repeat a note where “eine” lies, they simply hold it for two beats.  The repeated syllables in the third line are the word “geschehe.”  This essentially matches stanza 1, except that in the second statement, the middle syllable is held for two beats in the penultimate measure (because only one syllable follows).  The setting of “deinem” follows stanzas 2 and 4.
3:36 [m. 39]--Stanza 6, line 1.  Surprisingly, Brahms varies the last stanza.  He marks it “Poco meno Allegro.”  The sopranos lead in a short imitation from top to bottom that only remains strict for one bar but sounds like a canon.  Only the sopranos sing all the words of line 1, adding the word “nun.”  The altos sing “Die Engel sangen alle.”  The tenors sing “Die Engel sangen.”  The basses sing “Die Engel.”  The music is marked pianissimo, and only the opening gesture of each entry resembles the other verses.  The sopranos lead into the next line with the word “sie.” 
3:45 [m. 43]--Stanza 6, line 2.  After the entries, all parts come together on “sangen alle Maria,” but altos and tenors sing “sie,” giving the first syllable of “sangen” only one note, while the sopranos and basses sing two notes on that syllable, having led into it with “sie” and “Engel” in the previous bar.  With the voices together, there is an unexpected, brilliant, and dramatic shift to C major and a rapid swell in volume.  On the lengthened second statement of “Maria, the sopranos and tenors soar.  The tenors actually only sing “Maria” once, holding a long note while the other voices continue.  There is then a radiant pause.
3:58 [m. 48]--Stanza 6, line 3.  After this joyous and unexpected climax, the last line is given as in the other stanzas, with another repetition of “Maria” and an abrupt return to the home key of E-flat.  The latter is accomplished by a new minor-key harmony on the upbeat, after which the music is identical to the last lines of the other strophes.  The declamation is as in stanza 1, with a syllable on each beat until the penultimate bar, which is set as in stanzas 3-5, with the first syllable of “Lobgesang” held for two beats.
4:16--END OF SONG [52 mm.]

2. Marias Kirchgang (Mary on her Way to Church).  Folksong text.  Andante con moto.  Simple strophic form with contrasting passage.  E-FLAT MINOR, 4/4 time.

German Text:
Maria wollt zur Kirche gehn,
da kam sie an den tiefen See.
Als sie wohl an den See hinkam,
der Schiffmann jung stand fertig da.
“Ach, Schiffmann, schiff mich über das Meer,
ich geb’ dir was dein Herz begehrt.”
“Ich schiffe dich wohl über das Meer,
wenn du willst meine Hausfrau sein.”
“Soll ich erst deine Hausfrau sein,
viel lieber schwimm’ich über das Meer.”
Als sie wohl in die Mitte kam,
fingen alle Glöcklein zu läuten an.
Sie läuten gross, sie läuten klein,
sie läuteten wohl alle zugleich.
Maria kniet auf einem Stein,
dem Schiffmann sprang sein Herz entzwei.

English Translation
0:00 [m. 1]--Lines 1-2 (strophe 1).  The sopranos are divided for the main strophic portion.  The basses do not sing in this song except for the contrasting passage.  In the main musical strophe, the altos and tenors lead on an upbeat, again on horn fifth harmony, as in the first song.  The divided sopranos enter two beats later.  They lag behind the lower two parts until the end of the short strophe, when they catch up by singing four shorter notes.  The beginning of the melody has the flavor of the Dorian mode, but the true minor is restored at the end.  The final cadence arrives on a jarring and hollow open fifth.  The dynamic level is very soft, with a small swell and receding at the end.
0:17 [m. 1]--Lines 3-4 (strophe 2).  Music and declamation are as in strophe 1.
0:32 [m. 5]--Lines 5-6 (strophe 3).  Strophes 3-5 are notated with new music, probably for ease in notating the extra syllable required by “über das Meer” in all three.  Here, an extra repeated note is added midway through the strophe.
0:48 [m. 5]--Lines 7-8 (strophe 4).  Music and declamation are as in strophe 3.  In this performance, the choir begins the strophe at a stronger level than in the previous three to differentiate the ferryman’s words.
1:03 [m. 5]--Lines 9-10 (strophe 5).  Here, the extra syllable and repeated note for “über das Meer” are placed at the end of the strophe instead of in the middle.
1:19 [m. 9]--Contrasting passage.  Lines 11-12.  In a dramatic departure from the static motion of the five strophes, the contrasting passage is in the bright home major key.  The basses make their entrance, and their leaping line between the home keynote and the “dominant” (and later the “subdominant”) graphically depicts the ringing bells.  The tenors also use the same notes, leaping at different times and in different directions.  The sopranos (now undivided) and altos provide a joyous harmonized melody over the men’s “bells.”  The sopranos have a colorful chromatic note (D-flat) in the middle.
1:32 [m. 13]--Lines 13-14.  The music of the contrasting passage is repeated for these lines, but the soprano and tenor parts are reversed so that the sopranos are now singing “bell” notes and the tenors carry the melody, harmonized by the altos.  There is some difference in declamation to accommodate the missing syllable in line 14 (compared to line 12).  At the end, the “bells” are extended.  The altos and basses hold their last notes while the tenors and sopranos alternate three times on the last “bell” leaps, which also bring the music back down to a quiet level.
1:57 [m. 19]--Lines 15-16 (strophe 6 [8]).  The minor/Dorian music of the main strophic portion returns, with divided sopranos and absent basses.  It is declaimed the same way as strophes 1 and 2.  Brahms directs that it should slow gradually to the end, and the song ends with the hollow open fifth, in great contrast to the joyous “bells” passage.
2:17--END OF SONG [22 mm.]

3. Marias Wallfahrt (Mary’s Pilgrimage).  Folksong text.  Con moto.  Simple strophic form with new music for the final stanza.  C MINOR, 4/4 time, with three 9/4 bars and five 6/4 bars in the final stanza.

German Text:
Maria ging aus wandern,
so fern ins fremde Land,
bis sie Gott den Herren fand.

Sie hat ihn schon gefunden
wohl vor des Herodes Haus,
er sah so betrüblich aus.

Das Kreuz, das musst’ er tragen
nach Jerusalem vor die Stadt,
wo er gemartet ward.

Was trug er auf seinem Haupte?
Ein’ scharfe Dornenkron’;
das Kreuz, das trägt er schon.

Daran soll man bedenken,
ein jeder jung or alt,
daß das Himmelreich
leidet Gewalt!

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1.  The music, like the first two songs, begins on an rising upbeat.  It flows gently, but not without a sense of pathos.  The first two lines vacillate between C minor and E-flat major.  The first line arches in block harmony with internal motion, and the second line descends.  The second line is then repeated with a longer upbeat on a rising, swelling line that seems to move to B-flat major.  Finally, after a strong emphasis on the second word, the last line descends again and diminishes, making a clear motion to a fourth key center, G minor, where it reaches a cadence (albeit on a G-major chord).
0:26 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2.  The music is repeated.  The two syllables “vor des” are sung to two notes (or split repeated notes) previously used for the single syllable “fern” in both statements of the second line.
0:51 [m. 9]--Stanza (strophe) 3.  Stanzas 3 and 4 are given new notation in the score, primarily because their last lines are a syllable shorter, allowing for even greater emphasis on the second words of those lines.  In stanza 3, the second line is two syllables longer than in stanza 1 and one syllable longer than in stanza 2.  In addition to the previous declamation in stanza 2 (for the second and third syllables of “Jerusalem”), another “split” is necessary for “nach” and the first syllable of “Jerusalem.”  Only in the alto and tenor parts of the second statement were there previously two different notes for the corresponding single syllable.  In the third line, the emphasized second word is stretched to two notes in all parts, crossing the bar line.  In this verse and the next, the last line does not diminish, emphasizing the torture and the cross.
1:17 [m. 9]--Stanza (strophe) 4.  In this stanza, the first line has an extra syllable for the only time.  A note is split for the words “er auf.”  In contrast, the second line has the same declamation as in stanza 1 in both statements, contrasting greatly with the longer line in stanza 3.  As in stanza 3, the last line has two notes and a bar line crossing on the second word (significantly “Kreuz”--“cross”), and does not diminish.
1:45 [m. 17]--Stanza 5, lines 1-2.  The final stanza, one line longer, is given completely new and contrasting music, emphasizing its stern and aphoristic nature.  It shifts to a mixed compound meter.  In the first two lines, a 9/4 bar is followed by a 6/4 bar.  The soprano part is the same in both lines, but there is some variation in the lower parts, both through exchange of notes in the middle parts and a higher octave in the basses.  The word “alt” in the second line is given to the two notes heard for the last two syllables of “bedenken” in the first line.  There is a clear, strong return to C minor, confirming it as the home key.
2:04 [m. 21]--Stanza 5, lines 3-4 (one line in original folk poem).  The shorter third line is sung to a rising melody in a single 9/4 bar.  This line makes a strong move to the home major key (C major) which as yet has been unheard.  Then the last four-syllable line is sung to three 6/4 bars.  Here, the major key continues, but on the last syllable, the middle voices (alto and tenor) trail on a moving line that mixes major- and minor-key notes.  The last chord is a major chord with the basses splitting into two notes an octave apart.
2:26--END OF SONG [24 mm.]

4. Der Jäger (The Hunter).  Folksong text.  Allegro, ma non troppo.  Combination of strophic and ternary forms.  G MAJOR, 4/4 time.
(The title Der Jäger is also used for the solo song Op. 95, No. 4)

German Text:
Es wollt’ gut Jäger jagen,
wollt’ jagen von Himmelshöhn;
was begegn’t ihm auf der Heiden?
Maria, die Jungfrau schön.

Der Jäger, den ich meine,
der ist uns wohlbekannt,
er jagt mit einem Engel,
Gabriel ist er genannt.

Der Engel blies sein Hörnlein,
das laut’ sich also wohl:
“Gegrüßt seist du, Maria,
du bist aller Gnaden voll!

Gegrüßt seist du, Maria,
du edle Jungfrau fein!
Dein Schoß soll hegen und tragen
ein Kindlein zart und klein.

Dein Schoß soll hegen und tragen
Ein Kindlein zart und klein,
das Himmel und auch Erden
einsmals wird nehmen ein.”

Maria, die vielreine,
fiel nieder auf ihre Knie,
dann sie bat Gott vom Himmel,
sein Will’ geschehen soll.

Dein Will’, der soll geschehen
ohn sonder Pein und Schmerz.
Da empfing sie Jesum Christum
in ihr jungfräulich Herz.

English Translation

A Section--Stanzas 1-2, G major
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1.  Like the previous three songs, it begins with an upbeat on a rising gesture.  The purely harmonized first line pair establishes the joyous, almost lusty mood.  The second line pair is more hesitant and adds some chromatic notes.  The repeated word “Maria” has a strong emphasis on its second syllable and creates a five-bar phrase.  After the repeated name, the melody descends to a cadence.
0:22 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2.  It is set to the same music as stanza 1.  The word “ist” in line 2 is set to the notes heard for “jagen” before, with the appropriate slurs and held (instead of repeated) notes.  Similarly, the word “er” at the beginning of line 3 is set to notes previously used for two syllables.  The emphasis on the second syllable of the repeated word “Gabriel” is an unusual declamation compared to “Maria.”
B Section--Stanzas 3-5, C major
0:42 [m. 10]--Stanza (strophe) 3.  The central section in C major is highly evocative of the hunting horn.  The women quietly sing to the “horn fifth” harmony heard at the beginning of the first two songs.  The arching third line briefly moves to F major and slightly builds.  Anticipating this third line, the tenors and basses enter with alternating calls of “gegrüßt.”  After leading the basses twice, the tenors complete line 3 with “seist du, Maria,” and the basses follow suit, but unlike the tenors they do note repeat “gegrüßt” a third time.  This completion happens as the women sing line 4 and move back to C major for the cadence, in which the men participate.
1:01 [m. 18]--Stanza (strophe) 4.  Now the women’s and men’s parts are reversed.  The men take over the “horn fifth” melody for the first two lines and continue with the arching third line, tenors matching sopranos and basses matching altos.  The women take the alternating calls of “gegrüßt” against this (sopranos matching tenors and altos matching basses).  Since this line is now the first rather than the third line of the stanza, there is more conflicting text between the parts than there was in stanza 3.  As the men had before, the women complete the line as the men move to the C-major cadence on line 4.  At the very end, there is some voice exchange as the sopranos move to the trailing former alto part, and the altos to the former tenor part.  The tenors stay on the melody and the basses return to their original final note.
1:18 [m. 26]--Stanza (strophe) 5.  The sopranos and altos sing their original parts from stanza 3.  Note the text repetition from the end of stanza 4.  Now, without the line featuring “gegrüßt,” the tenors and basses are given new parts and sing in block harmonies with the women throughout the verse.  The opening of the verse is much louder than the previous two, but the arching third line is suddenly quiet before building slightly.  The trailing parts at the end heard from altos and tenors in stanza 3 and sopranos and altos in stanza 4 are omitted, creating a solid cadence in C major.
A Section--Stanzas 6-7, G major
1:37 [m. 34]--Stanza (strophe) 6.  In an abrupt motion back to G major, the original strophe returns for stanza 6.  The declamation of the first two lines is as in stanza 1.  The third and fourth lines are similar to stanza 2 in declamation until the end.  The repeated words are “sein Wille,” with an appropriate emphasis on “Wille.”  The repetition dispenses with the second syllable of that word and gives the first syllable of “geschehen” notes that were used for two syllables in stanzas 1 and 2.
2:00 [m. 34]--Stanza (strophe) 7.  The declamation of the first line pair is as in stanza 2.  Line 3 is as in stanza 1.  In the last line, only the two syllables “in ihr” are repeated, giving even more emphasis to the syllable “ihr.”  The remainder of the line is declaimed as in stanza 6.  This performance slows at the end.
2:29--END OF SONG [42 mm.]

5. Ruf zur Maria (Cry to Mary).  Folksong text.  Poco Adagio.  Strophic form with varied last strophe.  B-FLAT MAJOR, 6/4 time.

German Text:
Dich, Mutter Gottes, ruf’ wir an,
bitt’ für uns, Maria!
Tu’ uns in Ängsten nicht verlan,
Jesum, dein Sohn, der Not ermahn,
die er um menschlich Geschlecht wollt’ han,
bitt’ für uns, Maria!

Daß wir vollkommen werden gar,
bitt’ für uns, Maria!
Leib, Ehr’ und Gut auf Erd’ bewahr’,
daß wir in Zeit viel guter Jahr’
dort leben mit der Engel Schar,
bitt’ für uns, Maria!

Du bist der Brunn, der nicht verseicht,
bitt’ für uns, Maria!
Daß uns der heilig Geist erleucht
zu wahrer Reu und ganzer Beicht!
Jesus, dein Sohn, dir nicht verzeicht,
bitt’ für uns, Maria!

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1, lines 1-2.  This song begins with an upbeat, as all the previous four songs had done.  Other than that, the opening gesture is somewhat different, abandoning the long upward movement and moving directly into the flowing 6/4 lines.  All four parts are expressive, with much internal motion, but the tenor line is the most florid, imitating the altos with a yearning leap on “an.”  The first supplication, “bitt’ für uns, Maria,” takes a poignant turn.
0:20 [m. 5]--Stanza 1, lines 3-6.  The third line is similar to the first, but at the beginning the alto and bass parts are exchanged.  This makes the altos’ leap on “nicht” wider and more expressive, especially since it includes a dissonant note.  The fourth line begins a buildup, with a long-short rhythm in the sopranos and an exciting climb in the tenors.  The fifth line settles down and moves to the key of E-flat major.  After a dramatic pause, the final line, the repeated supplication, has half-step motion in the soprano, alto, and bass parts, then moves back to B-flat with a soaring tenor line.  Tenors and altos trail longingly at the cadence.
1:02 [m. 1]--Stanza 2, lines 1-2.  Set to the same music as stanza 1.  The “yearning” leap is on “gar.”
1:21 [m. 5]--Stanza 2, lines 3-6.    The alto leap is on “Erd.”  The only difference in declamation to stanza 1 is that the word “mit” in the fifth line is set to the notes used for the two-syllable word “menschlich” before.
2:05 [m. 14]--Stanza 3, lines 1-2.  The music is different for these lines.  The text is sung more secretively and quietly.  The sopranos give up their soaring line.  In compensation, the altos now have an extremely expressive moving line, as do the tenors, and there are several chromatic notes and half-steps in those two parts.  The “supplication” moves quite warmly to the new key of F major.
2:26 [m. 18]--Stanza 3, lines 3-4.  These lines are quite similar to the first two, but at a higher pitch level.  The fourth line soothingly moves back to the home key of B-flat.
2:47 [m. 22]--Stanza 3, lines 5-6.  Line 5 returns to the music of the first two stanzas, complete with the corresponding motion to E-flat.  The declamation is very different, beginning on a downbeat to emphasize “Jesus, dein Sohn.”  The final pause and supplication are as in the first two stanzas.
3:21--END OF SONG [26 mm.]

6. Magdalena (Magdalene).  Folksong text.  Poco lento.  Simple strophic form.  G MINOR, 4/4 time.

German Text:
An dem österlichen Tag
Maria Magdalena ging zu dem Grab;
was fand sie in dem Grabe stehn?
Einen Engel wohlgetan.

Der Engel grüßt sie in der Zeit:
“Den da suchet das vielselige Weib,
er ist erstanden von dem Tod,
den du salben wolltest.”

“Maria!” ruft er ihr zu hant,
da erkennt sie ihren Heiland,
sie sah in aller der Gebärde,
sam er ein Gärtner wäre.

English Translation--NOTE: This translation uses an alternate word
Wärter (guardian) instead of Gärtner (gardner) in the last line.

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1.  This is the only song in the set not to begin on an upbeat.  The first two lines are sung to a simple, arching minor-key melody that ends on a bare fifth.  The basses lag a bit behind in the second line.  In the third and fourth lines, the melody speeds up, and the men sing a beat behind the women until the end of the word “Engel,” where the sopranos and especially the altos have a longer melisma (group of notes on a single syllable).  The melisma swells and recedes, and the cadence remains firmly in minor.  The unusual declamation is notable, especially the stress on the last syllable of “Maria.”
0:30 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2.  The downbeat beginning was unique to stanza 1, as the other two stanzas do begin with an upbeat.  The two syllables “Den da” are sung to the notes used for the three-syllable “Maria.”  The “following” tenors and basses in lines three and four shift the text forward a bit by lengthening “von.”  This is in consideration of the accentuation of “den du,” where the text catches up.  The word “wolltest” is set to the same notes as the three-syllable “wohlgetan” in stanza 1.
1:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 3.  The address “Maria!” is set off in this performance.  “Da erkennt sie” is set as was “Den da suchet” in stanza 2.  The word “Heiland” is notably stretched out, being sung to notes previously used for four syllables of text.  In lines 3 and 4, the sopranos and altos sing “er ein Gärtner” to notes previously used only for “Engel” and “salben.”  The tenors and basses compensate by singing new syllables (in “Gebärde” and “er ein”--which matches stanza 2’s “den du”) on previously slurred notes so that “Gärtner” is set in the same way as were “Engel“ and “salben.”  The final word “wäre” is set as was “wolltest” in stanza 2.
1:38--END OF SONG [8 mm. (x3)]

7. Marias Lob (Mary’s Praise).  Folksong text.  Allegro.  Simple strophic form.  E-FLAT MAJOR, 4/4 and 3/4 time.

German Text:
Maria, wahre Himmelsfreud’,
der Welt Ergötzlichkeit!
Wer wollt’ dich nicht lieben?
Du stehst mir geschrieben,
ja bist mir gegraben
mit tiefen Buchstaben
in meinem Herzelein!

Wie schmelzet ein Karfunkelstein
im Lorbeerkränzelein,
so geht es mir eben,
mein’ Seel’ und mein Leben
vor Lieb’ sich zertrennen
und in sich verbrennen
bei deinem Nennen!

Der ganzen Schöpfung reiche Zier
vergleicht sich nicht mit dir.
Es dürfen die Blumen
ihr’ Schönheit nicht rühmen,
sie müssen sich schämen,
du tuest benehmen
all’ ihre Zierlichkeit.

Des Himmels Sternenangesicht
und aller Sonnen Licht,
samt Edelgesteinen,
sie dürfen nicht scheinen,
die Perlen, Korallen,
Gold, Silber, sie fallen
vor dir in Finsternis.

Maria, o mein’ höchste Freud’,
die Welt ist mir verleidt,
ich suche zu sterben;
du woll’st mir erwerben
nur Gottes Gnaden,
auf höheren Pfaden
so scheid’ ich fröhlich hin.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 1-2.  The first two lines of all five stanzas are sung in 4/4 time.  The last note of line 2 becomes the beginning of a 3/4 bar, where the rest of the stanza will be set.  The purely harmonized melody is strong and assertive.  The sopranos leap down on the fifth syllable of line 1 and the second syllable of line 2.
0:12 [m. 5]--Stanza 1, lines 3-7.  The remaining lines are set in 3/4 meter.  The sopranos gradually rise to the high point at line 5, where they descend.  The basses are absent for lines 3 and 4.  Lines 5 and 6 move briefly to A-flat major and F minor.  All parts soar on “meinem.”  The altos and tenors sing “Herzelein” faster than the sopranos and basses, and trail with a repetition of “meinem Herzelein” as the sopranos and basses hold their final notes.  The sopranos drop out before the other parts.
0:36 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2.  The declamation is as in stanza 1 until the very end, where the last line is a syllable shorter.  The sopranos and basses merely stretch out the last word, while the altos and tenors repeat the same number of syllables (the entire line, beginning a beat earlier), also stretching out “Nennen.”
1:07 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 3.  The declamation is as in stanza 1.  “Ihre Zierlichkeit” is treated as was “meinem Herzelein” in stanza 1.
1:39 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 4.  The declamation is as before except for the trailing alto/tenor repetition at the end.  There, they repeat an extra syllable (the entire line, but not a beat earlier), placing a new syllable on the soaring note, the only stanza in which this happens.
2:11 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 5.  Brahms indicates that (only) this stanza is to begin very quietly, gradually building in volume to the high point at line 5.  At line 5, which has one fewer syllable than the other stanzas,  the first syllable of “Gottes” is stretched out.  The alto/tenor repetition is treated differently.  For the only time, the entire line is not stated before the repetition begins.  In the first statement, “hin” is cut off, and then the entire line is stated in the repetition (beginning a beat earlier, as in stanza 2).  Because “hin” was cut off before, the remainder of the repetition can be declaimed as in stanzas 1 and 3 rather than as in stanza 4.
2:57--END OF SONG [18 mm. (x5)]