Joseph Eybler: Omnes de Saba venient, Gradual, HV 40EK-1040
This gradual of the Viennese Hofkapellmeister Joseph Eybler (1765-1846) is one of his best known sacral works and has become an integral part of the solemn service on Epiphany (January 6) in Vienna. Composed in 1807, this gradual was performed in the Vienna Hofburgkapelle almost every year on Epiphany until far into the 20th century. Several recordings also testify to the popularity of the piece.
In this gradual, Eybler sets to music a text of Isaiah and a verse from the Gospel of Matthew about the adoration of the Magi.
Due to Eybler's position as Hofkapellmeister, an excellent orchestra of professional musicians was available, so his compositions - and this piece is no exception - typically feature a large orchestra, although the full range of instruments is always utilized very thoughtfully. This gradual also exhibits several different vocal styles, like an almost completely unaccompanied soprano solo, a four-part female choir, an a cappella choral or a classical fugue.
Like most of Eybler's works, it is also very onomatopoeic: The rhythm of the first few measures cleverly pictures the approaching caravan, while maintaining harmony until the first peak "annuntiantes laudem Domino" (to preach the praise of the Lord). The following soprano aria "Surge et illuminare Jerusalem", which develops from a long high "Surge!" (Arise!) call during a general pause of the whole orchestra, features only sporadic interjections of the orchestra rather than full orchestral accompaniment. The four-part "Hallelujah" chorus by the female voices prepares the long fugue "Vidimus stellam ejus in oriente" in classical style, with the bass leading as the personified Magi ("Vidimus stellam ejus in oriente" - "We have seen his star in the East"). A brief a cappella choral eventually leads to the grand finale with increasing "Hallelujah" calls, before the piece vanishes into nothing and the caravan disappears in the distance.
|Composer||Joseph Eybler (1765-1846)|
|Title||Omnes de Saba venient|
|Subtitle||Graduale, HV 40|
|Catalogue number||HV 40|
|Scoring||Solo S, Coro SATB, Org., 2Vl., Va., Vc., Cb., 2Ob., 2Fag., 2Cor., 2Clni., Tim.|
|Publisher||Edition Kainhofer, Vienna|
|Language of the lyrics||Latin|
|Year of Composition||1807|