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litany feast of all souls

Editor’s Note: Franz Schubert wrote “Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen” in 1816 after a text by Johann Georg Jacobi, which is reproduced below in English translation. Three recordings of this exquisite piece—arranged for soprano and piano, for chorus and piano, and for cello and piano—are provided at the bottom of the text.

Rest in peace, all souls
who have had done with anxious torment,
who have had done with sweet dreams
who, sated with life and hardly born,
have departed from this world:
all souls rest in peace!

Those who only sought for comradeship here,
more often wept but never fled
when no one was there to press
their faithful hand with an understanding look:
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

Maiden souls, full of love,
whose tears cannot be counted,
whom a false friend has abandoned,
and the blind world has disowned;
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

And the youth, to whom secretly
in early morning, his bride goes,
(for Love lies in the grave)
to carry away the extinguished taper:
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

All the souls, who, full of clarity,
became martyrs to Truth,
struggling for sacred faith
but seeking not the martyr’s crown:
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

And those who never smiled at the sun,
keeping watch on the thorns beneath the moon,
to see God in the pure heavenly light
and look him just once in the face:
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

And those happy ones in the rose garden
tarrying with their joyous cups,
but then, in one horrible moment,
tasting the bitter dregs at last:
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

And those who knew no peace
but still had courage and strength to give
on fields strewn with corpses
in a world half asleep:
all who have parted from here,
all souls rest in peace!

Rest in peace, all souls
who have had done with anxious torment,
who have had done with sweet dreams
who, sated with life and hardly born,
have departed from this world:
all souls rest in peace!

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2 replies to this post
  1. Thank you for this! So far, I’ve only sung some of Schubert’s Latin liturgical settings. Do you happen to have any reading recommendations for this phenomenon of vernacular liturgical music in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century Catholic countries or areas? For example, there’s a lovely CD of not only settings of ‘Silent Night’ using the original guitar (!) but also both Latin and German Masses by Franz X. Gruber.

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