The Creation (German: Die Schöpfung) is an oratorio
written between 1796 and 1798 by Joseph Haydn (H.
21/2), and considered by many to be his masterpiece.
The oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the
world as described in the biblical Book of Genesis and
in Paradise Lost. It is scored for soprano, tenor and
bass soloists, chorus and a symphonic orchestra, and is
structured in three parts.
No. 13. Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (The
heavens are telling the glory of God)
The text is based on Psalm 19:1–3, which had been set
by Bach as the opening chorus of his cantata Die Himmel
erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76. Haydn's century,
following on the discoveries of Newton, had the view
that an orderly universe—particularly the
mathematically-governed motion of the heavenly
bodies—attests to divine wisdom. Haydn, a naturally
curious man, may have had an amateur interest in
astronomy, as while in England he took the trouble to
visit William Herschel, ex-composer and discoverer of
Uranus, in his observatory in Slough.
"Die Himmel erzählen" is not in the home key of Part I,
C minor, but is instead in C major, showing the triumph
of light over dark. It begins with alternation between
celebratory choral passages and more meditative
sequences from the three vocal soloists, followed by a
choral fugue on the words "Und seiner Hände Werk zeigt
an das Firmament", then a final homophonic section.
("The wonder of his works displays the firmament" is
the English text here, with word-order calqued from the
German, but somewhat awkward compared to the Authorized
Version's "And the firmament sheweth the handywork of
God".) The unusual intensity of the ending may be the
result of Haydn's piling of coda upon coda, each
occurring at a point where the music seems about to
Although this piece was originally written for Opera, I
arranged it for Woodwind Septet (Flute, Oboe, English
Horn, Bb Clarinet, French Horn, Bass Clarinet &