How can you accelerate the speed, accuracy, and quality of learning songs for performance situations?

On this blog I share my 'learning adventures' as I continue to improve my performance as a singer.

I share web resources I find helpful, and reflect on my experience using various technologies and ideas.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Translation of "Scheidend" (Departing) - Mendelssohn and Voss

Last Wednesday I began to learn Mendelssohn's leider "Scheidend" Opus 9, No. 6.

I intend to sing the song at the next meeting of the Auckland Lieder Group, Sunday 24 June.

Here's the poem, by Johann Heinrich Voss (1751-1826)

Wie so gelinde die Fluth bewegt!
Wie sie so ruhig den Nachen trägt!
Fern liegt das Leben, das Jugendland!
Fern, fern liegt der Schmerz, der dort mich band,
Sanft tragt mich, Fluthen, zum fernen Land!

Droben der Sterne stiller Ort,
Unten der Strom fließt fort und fort.
Wohl warst du reich, mein Jugendland!
Wohl, wohl war es süß, was dort mich band,
Sanft tragt mich, Fluthen, zum fernen Land!


I have had a little difficulty finding a translation of the poem, written by Johnann Heinrich Voss. ("Difficulty" means it has taken me one hour to find the translation. Hasn't the internet made us so impatient!)

The State Library of Western Australia kindly translated the first line ...
"Calmly the waves of ocean roll"


With this first-line clue I typed in that line. That lead me to me to an unpromising history of the Trinity Church, Buffalo, NY. A very, very long web page with no indexing, content list or anything. But... jackpot, I found the translation:

Calmly the waves of ocean roll 
Over my fainting, fleeting soul,
Parting earth's friendships and rending in twain
Hearts that will soon be united again
On heaven's celestial plain.

Swiftly before a purer day,
Fade now yon golden stars away ;
Lo ! realms of brightness now burst on my sight,
Fast I am speeding from regions of night
To heaven's eternal light."

The song was sung at the funeral of Mary Knowlton Mixer. "Miss Underhill, the soprano, gave Mendelssohn's "Song of Parting" the words of which were the last ever sung by Miss Mixer."



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Although J.H. Voss did write some poetry which Felix Mendelssohn used in his songs, this text was actually written by Felix himself using the pseudonym "Voss" (spelled with the German character that looks like a loopy B called an ess-tset, pronounced ss). The translation you have above is not a good one. Here is an accurate one (it's mine):

    Going on (or "Parting")

    How very gracefully the river goes along!
    How it so calmly(quietly) carries the boat!
    Far lies the life, the land of youth!
    Far, far lies the pain, that bound me there.
    Softly carry me, rivers, to the far away land!

    Above the stars silent space
    Below the stream flows on and on
    Indeed you were rich, my youth-land!
    Indeed, indeed, it was sweet, what kept me there.
    Softly carry me, rivers, to the faraway land!