This hymn, like Hymne II
, is also in the original key of B flat minor, and it also contrasts the dark-hued opening lines of each strophe (accompanied by conventionally voice-doubling chords in the minor key) with a shift to the major – in this case a dance-like motif in semiquavers (the change is at ‘Drum geb ich dir mit Freuden’) which is rather merry and in eighteenth-century style. Whatever one thinks of this music, it cannot be written off as uninspired Schubert, only as Schubert deliberately attempting a religious stylization which he thought appropriate to the poet. By all accounts many of his contemporaries found it both moving and effective. Longing for the Saviour and gratitude for His love is fairly uncontroversial in a superficial reading of this poem, but our knowledge of the Novalis story and Sophie’s death reveals the border-line between conventional praise of God as the love-object, and the way in which Novalis brings thoughts of her into the centre of meditations on the Passion.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997