PROLOGUE – LUCIFER AND CHORUS.
SOLO AND CHORUS ... ... ... „Hasten, hasten“
SCENE I – PRINCE HENRY, LUCIFER AND CHORUS.
SOLO... ... ... ... ... “ I cannot sleep“
DUET ... ... ... “ All hail, Prince Henry“
SOLO (and Chorus of Female Voices) “ Through every vein“
SCENE II – ELSIE, URSULA, PRINCE HENRY AND CHORUS.
INTRODUCTION AND SOLO ... ... “ Slowly, slowly“
CHORUS ... ... Evening Hymn – “ O gladsome Light“
DUET ... ... ... “ Who was it said Amen ?“
SOLO... ... ... ... “ My Redeemer and my Lord“
SCENE III – ELSIE, PRINCE HENRY, LUCIFER AND CHORUS.
DUET ... ... ... „Onward and onward“
CHOEUS“) ... ... ... „Me receptet Sion illa“
SOLO ) ... ... ... ... „Here am I too“
SOLO... ... ... ... ... „It is the sea“
SOLO AND GHOBUS ... ... „The night is calm and cloudless“
SCENE IV – ELSIE, PRINCE HENRY, LUCIFER AND CHORUS. ENSEMBLE ... ... ... ...“My guests approach“
SCENE V – URSULA AND A FOBESTEB.
KECITATIVB ... ... ... ... „Who is it coming“
SOLO... ... ... “ Virgin, who lovest the poor and lowly“
SCENE VI – ELSIE AND PRINCE HENRY. DUET ... ... ... ... “ “We are alone“
EPILOGUE. CHORUS ... ... ...“ God sent His messenger, the rain“
PBINCE HENRY, of Hoheneck, lying sick in body and mind at his Castle of Vantaberg, on the Rhine, has consulted the famous physicians of Salerno, and learned that he can be cured only by the blood of a maiden who shall, of her own free will, consent to die for his sake. Regarding the remedy as impossible, the Prince gives way to despair, when he is visited by Lucifer, disguised as a travelling physician. The Fiend tempts him with alcohol, to the fascination of which he ultimately yields in such measure as to be deprived of place and power, and driven forth as an outcast.
Prince Henry finds shelter in the cottage of one of his vassals, whose daughter, Elsie, moved by great compassion for his rate, resolves to sacrifice her life that he might be restored. The prayers of her mother, Ursula, are of no avail to turn her from this purpose, and, in due time, Prince Henry, Elsie, and their attendants set out for Salerno. On their way they encounter a band of pilgrims, with whom is Lucifer, in the garb of a friar. He also is journeying to Salerno.
On reaching their destination, Prince Henry and Elsie are received by Lucifer, who has assumed the form of Friar Angelo, a doctor of the medical school. Elsie persists in her resolve to die, despite the opposition of the Prince, -who now declares that he intended to do no more than test her constancy. Lucifer draws Elsie into an inner chamber, but the Prince and attendants, breaking down the door, rescue her at the last moment.
Miraculously healed, Prince Henry marries the devoted maiden, and is restored to his rightful place.
The six scenes illustrate passages in the foregoing story. In the Prologue, the defeat of Lucifer is foreshadowed by an impotent attempt to wreck the Cathedral of Strasburg. In the Epilogue, the beneficent devotion of Elsie is compared to the course of a mountain brook, which cools and fertilises the arid plain.
– The Spire of Strasburg Cathedral
Night and storm. LUCIFER, with the Powers of the Air, trying to tear down the Cross.
Lucifer. Hasten! Hasten! O ye spirits !
From its station drag the ponderous
Cross of iron, that to mock us
Is uplifted high in air !
Voices. O, we cannot;
For around it
All the saints and guardian angels
Throng in legions to protect it;
They defeat us everywhere !
The Bells. Laudo Deum verum! Plebem voco! Congrego clerum!
Lucifer. Lower! Lower ! Hover downward!
Seize the loud vociferous bells, and
Clashing, clanging, to the pavement
Hurl them from their windy tower.
All thy thunders
Here are harmless!
For these bells have been anointed
And baptized with holy water !
They defy our utmost power.
The Bells. Defunctos ploro ! Pestem fugo! Festa decoro.
Lucifer. Shake the casements! Break the painted
Panes, that flame with gold and crimson ;
Scatter them like leaves of Autumn,
Swept away before the blast!
Voices. O, we cannot;
The Archangel Michael flames from every window, with the sword of fire that drove us,
Leadlong, out of heaven, aghast!
Funera plango! Fulgura frango! Sabbata pango!
Lucifer. Aim your lightnings At the oaken,
Massive, iron studded portals!
Sack the house of God, and scatter
Wide the ashes of the dead !
Voices. O, we cannot;
And the Martyrs, wrapped in mantles,
Stand as warders at the entrance,
Stand as sentinels o‘vrhead!
Excito leutos ! Dissipo vontos ! ‚Paco cruentos !
Craven spirits ! leave this labour
Unto Time, the great Destroyer!
Come away, ere night is gone !
Voices. Onward ! onward ! With the night-wind,
Over field, and farm, and forest,
Lonely homestead, darksome hamlet,
Blighting all we breathe upon.
[They sweep away. Organ and Gregorian Chant.]
– The Castle of Vautsberg on the Rhine. A chamber in a tower. PRINCE HENRY sitting alone, ill, and restless. Midnight.
Prince Henry. I cannot sleep ! my fevered brain
Calls up the vanished Past again,
And throws its misty splendours deep
Into the pallid realms of sleep ! Best, rest!
O give me rest and peace !
The thought of life that ne‘er shall cease
Has something in it like despair,
A weight I am too weak to bear !
Sweeter to this afflicted breast,
The thought of never-ending rest ! Sweeter the undisturbed and deep
Tranquillity of endless sleep.
[A flash of lightning, out of which LUCIFER
appears, in the garb of a travelling
Lucifer. All hail, Prince Henry !
Prince. Who is it speaks ? What may your wish and purpose be?
Lucifer. Your Highness, you behold in me
Only a travelling pliysician ;
One of the few who have a mission
To cure incurable diseases,
Or those that are called so.
What is your illness ?
Prince. It has no name. A smouldering, dull, perpetual flame.
Even the doctors of Salern
Send me back word they can discern
No cure for a malady like this,
Save one, which in its nature is
Impossible, and cannot be.
Lucifer. What is their remedy ?
Prince. You shall see;
Writ in this scroll is the mystery.
„The only remedy that remains
Is tho blood that flows from a maiden‘s veins,
Who of her own free will shall die,
And give her life as the price of yours.“
That is the strangest of all cures,
And one, I think, you will never try.
Meanwhile permit me to recommend
As the matter admits of no delay,
My wonderful Catholicon,
Of very subtle and magical powers.
Purge with your nostrums and drugs infernal,
The spouts and gargoyles of these towers,
My faith is utterly gone
In every power but the Power Supernatural.
Lucifer [showing a flash].
Behold it here! This little flask
Contains the wonderful quintessence,
The perfect flowers and efflorescence
Of all the knowledge man can ask!
‚tis Alcohol, in the Arab speech
Of him whose wondrous lore I teach!
How limpid, pure, and crystalline!
The little wavelets dance and shine!
Let not the quantity alarm you;
You may drink all; it will not harm you.
Ah! What in ambush lurks below!
Woe, woe, eternal woe!
This fearful curse
Shakes the great universe.
Drink, drink, and thy soul shall sink
Down into the deep abyss.
Through every vein
I feel again
The fever of youth, the soft desire.
A rapture that is almost pain
Throbs in my heart, and fills my brain.
Beware, o beware!
For sickness, sowwow, and care,
All are there.
Prince [sinking back].
Golden visions wave and hover,
Golden vapours, waters streaming,
Landscapes moving, changing, gleaming!
I am like a happa lover.
[His head falls on his book.]
Like a vapour, the golden vision
Shall fade and pass.
– Before the house of URSULA. Villagers have gathered after labour. Evening.
Slowly, slowly up the wall,
Steals the sunshine, steals the shade,
Evening damps begin to fall,
Evening shadows are displayed.
Shafts of sunshine from the west
Paint the dusky windows red.
Darker shadows, deeper rest,
Underneath and overhead.
[Lamps are lit in the house. ]
Villagers. “ O gladsome Light “ –
Of the Father immortal,
And of the celestial
Sacred and blessed
Jesus our Saviour !
Now to the sunset
Again hast Thou brought us,
And, seeing the evening
Twilight, we bless Thee,
Praise Thee, adore Thee.
Son, the Life-giver !
Spirit, the Comforter !
Worthy at all times
Of worship and wonder !
Prince Henry. [At the door.]
[The Villagers disperse to their homes.]
Ursula. Who was it said Amen ?
Elsie. It was the Prince. He is gone again. Would I could do something for his sake;
Something to cure his Borrow and pain !
Ursula. That no one can, neither thou nor I,
Nor any one else.
Elsie. And must he die ?
Unless some maiden of her own accord
Offers her life for that of her lord.
Elsie. I will.
Ursula. Foolish child, be still.
Elsie. I mean it truly; for his sake
I will myself the offering make,
And give my life to purchase his.
Ursula. My child, my child, thou must not die !
Elsie. Why should I live ? do I not know
The life of woman is full of woe ?
Toiling on and on and on,
With breaking heart and tearful eyes,
And silent lips; and in the soul
The secret longings that arise,
Which this world never satisfies !
Ursula. Ah, woe is me! Ah, woe is me !
Alas that I should live to see
Thy death, beloved, and to stand.
Above thy grave. Ah, woe the day !
Elsie. Thou wilt not see it.
I shall lie beneath the flowers of another land,
For at Salerno, far away,
Over the mountains, over the sea,
It is appointed me to die.
In God‘s own time, my heart‘s delight,
When He shall call thee ; not before.
Elsie. I heard Him call. When Christ ascended
Triumphantly from star to star,
He left the gates of Heaven ajar.
I had a vision in the night
And saw Him standing at the door
Of His Father‘s mansion, vast and splendid,
And beckoning to me from afar.
Ursula [entering tfie house].
What if this were of God! Ah ! then Gainsay dare I not. Amen.
Elsie. [left alone].
My Redeemer and my Lord,
I beseech Thee, I entreat Thee,
Guide me in each act and word,
That hereafter I may meet Thee,
Watching, waiting, hoping, yearning,
With my lamp well trimmed and burning.
If my feeble prayer can reach Thee,
O, my Saviour, I beseech Thee,
Let me follow where Thou leadest,
Let me, bleeding as Thou bleedest,
Die, if dying I may give Life to one who asks to live;
And more nearly,
Dying thus, resemble Thee.
[PRINCE HENRY enters.]
My life is little – Only a cup of water
But pure and limpid ;
Take it, O my Prince !
Let it refresh you,
Let it restore you,
May God bless the gift I
Prince. And the giver.
[The PRINCE and ELSIE pass slowly into the house. It is now dark. ]
– On the road to Salerno. PRINCE HENRY, ELSIE, and their attendants.
Elsie. Onward and onward
the highway runs to the distant city,
Tidings of human joy and disaster,
of love and of hate, of doing and daring !
Prince Henry. This life of ours
is a wild Aeolian harp of many a joyous strain,
But under them all there runs a loud perpetual
wail, as of souls in pain.
All the hedges are white with dust, while onward the horses toil and strain.
Now they stop at the wayside inn, and the waggoner laughs with the landlord‘s daughter.
All through life there are wayside inns, where man may refresh his soul with love ;
Even the lowest may quench his thirst at rivulets fed by springs from above.
[They turn down a green lane.]
Elsie. Sweet is the air with the budding haws,
and the valley stretching for miles below
Is white with blossoming cherry trees, as if just covered with lightest snow.
Prince Henry. Hark, what sweet sounds art those,
whose accents holy
Fill the warm noon with music sad and sweet ?
Elsie. It is a band of pilgrims moving slowly
On their long journey, with uncovered feet.
[Chanting the hymn of St. Hildebert.]
Me receptet Sion ilia,
Sion David, urbs tranquilla,
Cujus faber auctor lucis,
Cujus portae lignum crucis,
Cujus clavis lingua Petri,
Cujus cives sempcr Iaeti,
Cujus muri lapis vivus,
Cujus custos Rex festivus !
Lucifer. [As a Friar in the procession].
Here am I, too, in the pious band,
The soles of my feet are hard and tanned.
There is my German Prince again,
Far on his journey to Salern,
And the love-sick girl, whose heated brain
Is sowing the cloud to reap the rain;
But it‘s a long road that lias no turn!
Let them quietly hold their way,
I have also a part in the play.
But first I must act to my heart‘s content
This mummery and this merriment,
And drive this motley flock of sheep
Into the fold where drink and sleep
The jolly old friars of Benevent.
Of a truth, it often provokes me to laugh,
To see these beggars hobble along,
Lamed and maimed and fed upon chaff,
Chanting their wonderful piff and paff,
And, to make up for not understanding the song,
Singing it fiercely, and wild, and strong !
In hac urbe, lux solennis,
Ver asternum, pax perenuis;
In hac odor implens coelos,
In hac semper festum melos !
[The Pilgrims pass on, their chant is heard in the distance.]
Urbs ccelestis, urbs beata,
Supra petram collocata,
Urbs in portu satis tuto,
De longiuquo te saluto,
Te saluto, te suspiro,
Te affecto, te requiro !
[PRINCE HENRY, ELSIE, and Attendants journey on. They reach a height overlooking the sea and encamp. Evening. ]
It is the sea, it is the sea,
In all its vague immensity ;
Fading and darkening in the distance !
Silent, majestical, and slow
The white ships haunt it to and fro,
With all their ghostly sails unfurled,
As phantoms from another world
Haunt the dim confines of existence.
Elsie. The night is calm and cloudless,
And still as still can be,
The stars come forth to listen
To the music of the sea ;
In snow-white robes uprising
The ghostly choirs respond, And sadly and unceasing
The mournful voice sings on,
And the snow-white choirs still answer, Christe eleison!
Attendants. The night is calm and cloudless,
And still as still can be,
The stars come forth to listen
To the music of the sea;
In snow-white robes uprising
The ghostly choirs respond,
And sadly and unceasing
The mournful voice sings on,
And the snow-white choirs still answer, Christe eleison !
– The Medical School at Salerno, LUCLFER dressed as a doctor.
Lucifer. My guests approach !
There is in the air
An odour of innocence and of prayer !
I cannot breathe such an atmosphere;
My soul is filled with a nameless fear,
That after all my restless endeavour,
The most ethereal, most divine,
Will escape from my hands for ever and ever.
But the other is already mine.
[Enter PRINCE HENRY and ELSIE, with attendants.]
Prince. Can you direct us to Friar Angelo ?
Lucifer. He stands before you.
Prince. Then you know our purpose.
I am Prince Henry of Hoheneck, and this
The maiden that I spake of.
Without compulsion, of her own free will,
Consent to this ?
Prince. Against all opposition. She will not be persuaded.
Lucifer. [To ELSIE.]
Have you thought well of it ?
Elsie. I come not here to argue,. But to die.
Attendants. O pure in heart ! from thy sweet dust shall grow
Lilies, upon whose petals will be written “ Ave Maria“ in characters of gold !
Elsie. [to tlie Attendants.]
Weep not, my friends ! rather rejoice with me,
I shall not feel the pain, but shall be gone,
And you will have another friend in heaven.
There is no more to say, let us go in.
Not one step further !
I only meant
To put thy courage to the proof.
Friar Angelo! I charge you on your life,
Believe not what she says, for she is mad.
Elsie. Alas ! Prince Henry !
Lucifer. Come with me this way.
[ELSIE goes in with LUCIFER, who thrusts PRINCE HENRY back, and closes the door.]
Prince. Gone, and the light of all my life gone with her !
A sudden darkness falls upon the world.
[to the Attendants]
Why did you not lay hold on her and keep her
From self-destruction ?
Angolo ! Murderer!
[Struggles at the door, but cannot open it.]
Elsie [within]. Farewell, dear Prince, farewell!
Prince and Attendants. Unbar the door !
Lucifer. It is too late !
Prince and Attendants. It shall not be too late !
[They burst the door open and rush in.]
– Ursula‘s Cottage.
Ursula. [Looking through the open door.]
Who is it coming under the trees ?
A man in the Prince‘s livery dressed !
He fills my heart with strange alarm !
[Enter a Forester.]
Forester. Is this the tenant Gottlieb‘s farm?
Ursula. This is his farm and I his wife.
Forester. News from the Prince!
Ursula. Of death or life ?
Forester. Your daughter lives, and the Prince is well.
You will learn, ere long, how it all befell.
Her heart for a moment never failed:
But when they reached Salerno‘s gate,
The Prince‘s nobler self prevailed, And saved her for a nobler fate.
Virgin, who lovest tlie poor and lowly,
If the loud cry of a mother‘s heart
Can ever ascend to where thou art,
Into thy blessed hands and holy,
Receive my prayer of praise and thanksgiving,
Our child -who was dead again is living.
O bring me to her; for mine eyes
Are hungry to behold her face ;
My very soul within me cries ;
My very hands seem to caress her,
To see her, gaze at her, and bless her;
Dear Elsie, child of God and grace.
– The Castleof Tautsterg on the Rhine. PRINCE HENRY and ELSIE stand on the Terrace.
It is the evening of their marriage day. The sound of bells heard from a distance.
We are alone ;
the wedding guests
Bide down the hill with plumes and cloaks,
And the descending dark invests
The forests hoar and haunted oaks.
Elsie. What bells are those that ring so slow,
So mellow, musical, and low ?
Prince. They are the hells of Geisenheim
That with their melancholy chime
Ring out the curfew of the sun.
Elsie. Listen, beloved !
They are done.
Dear Elsie, many years ago
These same soft bells at eventide
Rang in the ears of Charlemagne,
As, seated by Fastrada‘s side
At Ingelheim, in all Ins pride,
He heard their sound with secret pain.
Their voices only speak to me
Of peace and deep tranquillity,
And endless confidence in thee.
Thou know‘st the story of her ring,
How when the court went back to Aix,
Fastrada died ; and how tlie king
Sat watching by her night and day.
Till into one of the blue lakes
Which water that delicious land,
They cast the ring drawn from her hand ;
And the great monarch sat serene
And sad beside tlie fated shore,
Nor left the land for evermore.
Elsie. That was true love.
For him the queen
Ne‘er did what thou hast done for me.
Wilt thou as fond and faithful be ?
Wilt thou so love me after death ?
Thou hast Fastrada‘s ring.
Beneath the calm blue waters of thine eyes,
Deep in thy stedfast soul it lies,
And, undisturb‘d by this world‘s breath;
With magic light its jewels shine.
In life‘s delight, in death‘s dismay,
In storm and sunshine, night and day,
In health and sickness, in decay,
Here and hereafter I am thine.
[They go in.]
God sent His messenger, the rain,
And said unto the mountain brook,
„Rise up, and from thy caverns look,
And leap, witli naked snow-white feet,
From the cool hills into the heat
Of the broad and arid plain.“
God sent His messenger of faith,
And whispered in the maiden‘s lieart,
„Rise up, and look from where thou art,
And scatter with unselfish hands
Thy freshness on the barren sands
And solitudes of death.“
The deed divine
Is written in characters of gold
That never shall grow old,
But through all ages
Burn and and shine!