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Evangelium Johannes, D607

First line:
In der Zeit sprach der Herr Jesus
Spring 1818; vocal line with figured bass first published in 1902 in Heuberger’s Franz Schubert; realized and privately printed by Reinhard van Hoorickx
author of text
John 6: 53-58
translator of text

Twenty-six years after Schubert's death, his friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner wrote a short memoir which contained the following passage:

I once asked Schubert whether he did not also want to try setting prose to music and chose, for this purpose, the text from St John, Chapter VI verse 59 … He solved this problem wonderfully in 24 bars which I still possess as a very precious souvenir of him. He chose for it the solemn key of E major and the verse for a soprano voice with figured bass accompaniment.

For some reason Hüttenbrenner's autograph copy of the work contains only the last 24 of the piece's 57 bars. If we are to believe him (his reminiscences are often self-serving), Hüttenbrenner's suggestion called into being one of the strangest of the Schubert songs, if song it may be called. It is as if only poetry is able to bring forth melody in the composer's mind. Prose, on the other hand, moves him to a type of arioso, half recitative with an occasional outbreak of melody. The accompaniment suggests the organ, and the harmonic language sometimes evokes church music of the past (John Reed suggests the work might have been used liturgically). At other times it looks forward to the future and is prophetic of the word-setting technique of Wagner, governed as that is by the flexibility of speech. The overall effect is rather timeless, which is perhaps appropriate for the words of Christ. If anything the sense of freedom of this accompanied recitative reminds us of Schubert's most pioneering religious work the oratorio Lazarus D689, composed in 1820. The story of Lazarus was also taken from St John's Gospel. Deutsch states that the text is based on Luther's translation of the Bible, but John Reed avers that it is unlikely that this work was Schubert's source in Catholic Vienna. Reinhard Van Hoorickx has discovered that the complete text, including the introductory sentence, is contained in the Gospel pericope for the Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994


Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/40Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 21 - Edith Mathis
CDJ33021Last few CD copies remaining


Track 19 on CDJ33021 [3'05] Last few CD copies remaining
Track 7 on CDS44201/40 CD20 [3'05] Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDJ33021 track 19

Recording date
23 October 1992
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 21 - Edith Mathis (CDJ33021)
    Disc 1 Track 19
    Release date: June 1994
    Last few CD copies remaining
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 20 Track 7
    Release date: October 2005
    Deletion date: July 2021
    Boxed set + book (at a special price) — Download only
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