Goethe wrote the poem for the wedding celebration of friends in Switzerland in 1775, which explains the reason why the fifth line of the first strophe refers to the god, possibly Eros or Cupid, who has brought the company together. Apart from this it is very much a drinking-song of good fellowship streaked with the habitual concern for deeper things which these texts seem to require (though not in this case death and the hereafter). Schubert's music is jolly and hearty and is prophetic of the Trinklied
of Shakespeare of 1826 where passages of the vocal line are also doubled by both hands of the piano (here this unison appropriately mirrors the meaning of 'Uns hält der Gott zusammen'). The reference to flames ('Erneuert unsre Flammen') is introduced by a flickering contrary-motion arpeggio in semiquavers in the accompaniment and prompts a downward arpeggio in the voice on a dominant seventh on 'Flammen' – the only sign of temperament in an otherwise rather stolid vocal line. Thereafter Schubert makes a feature of it for the piano: the postlude is rendered relatively tricky by spluttering semiquaver sparks.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1995