Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus–Beethoven Oratorio: Christ on the Mount of Olives–Hallelujah


Oratorio, “Christ on the Mount of Olives

Ludwig Van Beethoven
(1770-1827)

Beethoven wrote but one oratorio, “Christus am Oelberge” (“Christ on the Mount of Olives”). It was begun in 1800 and finished during the following year. The text is by Huber, and was written, with Beethoven’s assistance, in fourteen days. The first performance of the work is entirely took place at Vienna, April 5, 1803, at the Theater an der Wien.

The closing number, a chorus of angels (“Hallelujah, God‘s almighty Son”), is introduced with a short but massive symphony leading to a jubilant burst of “Hallelujah,” which finally resolves itself into a glorious fugue. In all sacred music it is difficult to find a choral number which can surpass it in majesty or power.


Lyrics for the Hallelujah

Hallelujah unto God’s Almighty Son Praise the Lord, ye bright angelic choirs
In holy songs of Joy.
Man, proclaim his grace and glory,
Hallelujah unto God’s Almighty Son
Praise the Lord in holy songs of joy.



FROM THE COUNCIL OF TRENT

Resurrection

By the word Resurrection, however, we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead, which happened to many others, but that He rose by His own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to Him alone. For it is incompatible with nature and was never given to man to raise himself by his own power, from death to life. This was reserved for the almighty power of God, as we learn from these words of the Apostle: Although he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. This divine power, having never been separated, either from His body in the grave, or from His soul in hell, there existed a divine force both within the body, by which it could be again united to the soul, and within the soul, by which it could again return to the body. Thus He was able by His own power to return to life and rise from the dead.


Ascension

Filled with the Spirit of God, and contemplating the blessed and glorious Ascension of our Lord, the Prophet David exhorts all to celebrate that splendid triumph with the greatest joy and gladness: Clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with he voice of joy…. God is ascended with jubilee. 

This, then, the faithful must believe without hesitation, that Jesus Christ, having fully accomplished the work of Redemption, ascended as man, body and soul, into heaven; for as God He never forsook heaven, filling as He does all places with His Divinity. 

He ascended by His own power, not being taken up by the power of another, as was Elias, who was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot; or, as the Prophet Habacuc, or Philip, the deacon, who were borne through the air by the divine power, and traversed great distances.

Neither did He ascend into heaven solely by the exercise of His supreme power as God, but also by virtue of the power which He possessed as man. Although human power alone was insufficient to accomplish this, yet the virtue with which the blessed soul of Christ was endowed was capable of moving the body as it pleased, and His body, now glorified, readily obeyed the behest of the soul that moved it. Hence, we believe that Christ ascended into heaven as God and man by His own power.


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