Ludwig van Beethoven

Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur ("Himmel ruhmen des ewigen Ehre"), song for voice & piano, Op. 48/4

    Description by John Palmer

    There are only two instances in which Beethoven composed several songs as a set. The best known of these is An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98; the other is the Six Songs, Op. 48, setting texts by Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, whose work Beethoven knew most likely through his Bonn teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe. Unlike An die ferne Geliebte, the songs of Op. 48 are not musically related to one another.

    Beethoven's Gellert Lieder were composer during a tumultuous time in the composer's life. In 1801 we find Beethoven's first mention of his growing deafness, in a letter to Dr. Franz Wegeler in Bonn. The probability that his deafness was incurable tempted Beethoven to withdraw from society. During the same year, however, the composer writes of "a dear charming girl who loves me and whom I love. ... " This was certainly the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a student of Beethoven and the dedicatee of the "Moonlight" Sonata, Op. 27, No. 2, written in 1801. At sixteen years of age and a member of the aristocracy, Guicciardi seems to have had little interest in Beethoven as a lover. In November, 1803, Guicciardi married Count Wenzel Gallenberg, a young composer of ballet music with whom Guicciardi had been involved at least as long as she had known Beethoven. Myriad setbacks in Beethoven's life may have induced his temporary attraction to religious subjects such as the Gellert poems of Op. 48 or Christus am Ölberg, composed in 1803.

    Published in Vienna by Artaria in 1803, the Six Songs were dedicated to Count Johann von Browne (1767-1827), one of Beethoven's chief early patrons. Recent scholarship shows that the songs were composed before March 1802, and that No. 3 was sketched in 1798.

    "Die Himmel rühmen des ewigen Ehre" (The Heavens extol the Glory of God) was published as the fourth of the Six Songs, Op. 48, with the title, "Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur" (The Glory of God in Nature). The song is a majestic description of nature's declarations of the glory of God. Octaves or block chords in the piano part trace the vocal line, which is more instrumental than vocal in conception. Marked "majestic," the voice and piano begin by outlining the tonic triad, creating a military atmosphere. A quick modulation to G minor at "Vernimm, o Mensch, ihr göttlich Wort!" prepares us for the appearance of E flat major two measures later. As the poem describes, "Wer trägt der Himmel unzählbare Sterne?" (Who bears the heavens' innumerable stars?), Beethoven slowly returns to the tonic, C major.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16041
    2017 Sterling CDA 1811
    2016 Griot Hörbuch Verlag
    2015 Warner Classics 825646143511
    2015 Griot Hörbuch Verlag
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 002894791780
    2013 Gala Records 315
    2012 Documents MEM 233592
    2012 ZYX Music CLA 101302
    2011 Documents 231756
    2011 Delta / Xtra 26652
    2010 Mormon Tabernacle 5038092
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945534
    2009 Haenssler 98590
    2008 Elite Special / Zebralution
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4278722
    2008 Elite Special / Zebralution
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 423774
    2008 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099952214
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946397307
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946394318
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946389227
    2007 Signum UK SIGCD 139
    2007 Motette 50781
    2006 Symposium 1361
    2005 Castle Pulse PBXCD 567
    2005 Swedish Society Discofil 1010
    2005 Document 223046
    2002 New World Records 80608
    2001 Preiser Records 89514
    2001 Austro Mechana / Historic Recordings 18923
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463 507-2GFD
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463500
    2000 Choirmaster 8003
    2000 Preiser Records 89184
    2000 Bandboy 12
    2000 Swedish Society Discofil 1100
    1999 Royal Classics 70555
    1999 Capriccio Records 10816
    1998 RCA 62599
    1997 Gala Records GL-315
    1997 Marquis Classics 81193
    1997 BMG 68443
    1997 Preiser Records 89226
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447 921-2GBM
    1996 Capriccio Records 10391
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 62681
    1996 Simax 1825
    1996 Preiser Records 89218
    1996 Happy Days/Conifer 189
    1996 Capriccio Records 10716
    1995 Capriccio Records 10910
    1995 Nimbus 7871
    1995 Preiser Records 93390
    1995 Sony Classical 61983
    1994 Preiser Records 89205
    1994 Pearl 9092
    1991 Spectrum Music 461017
    1985 Ariola 610229231
    Capriccio Records 10915
    Duo Records (Meridian) 89010
    Gala Records GL-315
    Hamburger Archiv 10169
    Eurodisc 610124
    Philips 422378
    Deutsche Grammophon 413671
    Documents 223079-303
    Conifer 122