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Handel: The Triumph of Time and Truth (1757)

Georg Friedrich Händel



An oratorio

Words by Thomas Morell


Beauty (soprano)

Pleasure (tenor)

Deceit (soprano)

Time (basse)

Counsel (alto)



 1. Overture

2. Chorus
Time is supreme, Time is a mighty pow'r,
 Whom wisest mortals will adore.

3. Recitative
Beauty (looking in a mirror)
 How happy could I linger here,
 And stop old Time in his career!

4. Air
 Faithful mirror, fair-reflecting,
 All my beauteous charms collecting,
 Which, I fear, will soon decay.
 Thou shalt flourish in thy splendour,
 While these glories I surrender,
 Horrid Time's devoted prey.
 Faithful mirror. . . da capo

5. Recitative
 Fear not! I, Pleasure, swear
 That these charms you still shall wear,
 Ever blooming, ever fair.

 Beauty, thy slave, this vow shall make,
 Sweet Pleasure never to forsake;
 And, if this vow I disregard,
 In pain and anguish
 Let me languish,
 Tasting Folly's due reward.

6. Air
 Pensive sorrow, deep-possessing,
 Life despoils of every blessing,
 Wrapt in shades of piercing woe.
 Who indulges grief's sad passion,
 Sore vexation,
 Knows no joyful day below.
 Pensive sorrow. . . da capo

7. Recitative
 Despise Old Time. If short his stay,
 Let ev'ry joy
 The heart employ,
 And pleasure still improve the day.

8. Air and Chorus
Beauty and Chorus
 Come, come, live with Pleasure,
 Taste in youth life's only·joy!
 Old age knows no leisure,
 Cares its wintry thoughts emp]oy.

9. Recitative
Time (to Beauty)
 Turn, look on me! Behold old Time.
 And see Counsel, the son of Truth.

 Who soon will show
 How frail a flower Beauty is.

 The blossom of a day, that springs and dies.

10. Air
 The beauty smiling,
 All hearts beguiling,
 Soon drooping, dying,
 Returns no more.
 The youth, now blooming,
 And still presuming,
 Few moments flying,
 Shall charm no more.
 The beauty. . . da capo

11. Recitative
 Our diff'rent pow'rs we try, and see
 Who now shall gain the victory,

 Or Beauty,


 Or Counsel.

12. Air
 Ever-flowing tides of pleasure
 Shall transport me beyond measure
 In this conflict with Old Time,
 If he dares to despoil this choicest treasure.
 Beauty, blooming in its prime.
 Ever-flowing. . . da capo

13. Recitative
 The hand of Time pulls down
 The great colossus of the sun,
 The stone-built castle, cloud-capt tow'r,
 And shall Beauty oppose my pow'r?

14. Air
 Loathsome urns, disclose your treasure,
 Pride and Pleasure,
 Unveil to me,
 That I may see
 If now any
 Spark of beauty still remains.
 No, all dark as night!
 Only worms their prey enjoying,
 Dust and ashes still destroying,
 Which my greedy tooth disdains.
 Loathsome urns. . . da capo

15. Chorus
Strengthen us, O Time, with all thy lore,
 Teach us the ways of wisdom!

16. Recitative
 Too rigid the reproof you give,
 Too deep the search of Truth.
 Wise men will still in pleasure live,
 And still enjoy,
 Without annoy,
 The proper fruits of youth.

17. Air
 Happy Beauty, who fortune now smiling,
 Now with gay Pleasure and sport Time beguiling,
 Still enjoys the sweets of April's life.
 Come, indulge then no doubts to perplex you,
 Nor permit any sorrow to vex you,
 But live free from all care and all strife.
 Happy Beauty. . . da capo

18. Air and Chorus
Deceit and Chorus
 Happy, if still they reign in pleasure,
 All the sweets of youth caressing;
 Happy, if slighting Time's dull measure,
 They enjoy the present blessing.

19. Recitative
 Youth is not rich in Time; it may be poor,
 Nor can he call his own the passing hour.

 Hence, let thy thoughts on frailty range,
 And know that every day
 Some charm I make my lawful prey,
 Though unperceiv'd the change.

 He best, he only life employs,
 Who will not think how fast it flies.

 Yet, ere it is too late, give ear,
 And this instructive lesson hear.

20. Air and Chorus
Time and Chorus
 Like the shadow, life ever is flying,
 All unnotic'd, so swift the delusion.
 Man heeds not Time, on hope still relying,
 Soon the bell strikes, and all is confusion.


21. Soli (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and Chorus
Pleasure submits to pain,
 As day gives way to night,
 And sorrow smiles again,
 As Time sets all things right.
 Thus are the seasons chang'd,
 And all in turn appear,
 In various order rang'd,
 Throughout the whole revolving year.
 Pleasure. . . da capo

22. Recitative
 Here Pleasure keeps his splendid court,
 Where all his devotees resort;
 And, at his nod, advance
 The costly feast, the carol, and the dance,
 Minstrels and music, poetry and play,
 The dance by night, and manly sports by day.

23. Symphony (flourish of horns)

24. Recitative
 Hark! What sounds are these I hear?

25. Chorus
Oh, how great the glory
 That crowns the hunter's toil!
 Like Theseus, fam'd in story,
 He triumphs in the spoil.

26. Air
 Dryads, Sylvans, with fair Flora,
 Come, adorn this joyful place;
 Come, fair Iris and Aurora,
 This our festival to grace!

27. Solo (soprano) and Chorus
Lo! We all attend on Flora,
 To adorn this joyful place.
 Iris comes, with fair Aurora,
 This your festival to grace.

28. Air
 No more complaining,
 No more disdaining,
 See Pleasure reigning
 Without control.
 Still more delighting,
 Sweetly inviting,
 New charms exciting
 The raptur'd soul.
 No more. . . da capo

29. Air
 Pleasure's gentle Zephyrs playing,
 Bid thee sail, without delaying,
 And the port of bliss obtain.
 Let not doubtful fear confound thee,
 Taste the joys that now surround thee,
 Nor let Pleasure smile in vain.
 Pleasure's gentle. . . da capo

30. Air
 Come, O Time, and thy broad wings displaying,
 Might essaying,
 Sweep away,
 Without delay,
 The joyous pleasures of this sweet abode.
 Lo! He sleepeth, no more his strength prevailing,
 No more his pow'r availing
 To destroy life's sovereign good.
 Come, O Time. . . da capo

31. Air
 Mortals think that Time is sleeping,
 When so swiftly unseen he's sailing.
 But he comes, with ruin sweeping,
 In his triumph never failing.
 Mortals think. . . da capo

32. Recitative
Time (to Beauty)
 You hop'd to call in vain, but see me here!
 These lower regions are my proper sphere.
 Would you then dread no more
 My hated pow'r,
 Prepare thee for a nobler flight,
 Amidst the realms of light.
 Time cannot climb the blissful sky,
 Nor reach to immortality.

33. Air
Time (to Beauty)
 False destructive ways of Pleasure
 Leave, and court a nobler treasure
 In the starry realms above.
 Here though Folly's sons defy me,
 Yet in vain they seek to fly me,
 While through all the world I rove.
 False destructive. . . da capo

34. Recitative
Counsel (to Beauty)
 Too long deluded you have been
 By Pleasure's false and flatt'ring scene.
 Behold fair Truth, the heav'nly image see,
 Not decked, but fairest in simplicity:
 White robes of innocence she wears,
 Her look, her thoughts, turn'd to her kindred spheres.

 Behold her faithful mirror too,
 Presenting all things to your view
 By just reflection, be they false or true.

35. Air
 Lovely Beauty, close those eyes,
 Charming Beauty, oh look not there!
 In that view all pleasure dies,
 In reflection is sure despair.
 Lovely Beauty. . . da capo

36. Recitative
 Seek not to know what known will prove
 Grief more severe than slighted love.

37. Air
 Is a folly,
 Wave all sorrow
 Until tomorrow,
 Life consists in the present hour.
 This dear treasure we adore
 With grateful ardour, still employing,
 Still enjoying,
 The sweet moments in our pow'r.
 Melancholy. . . da capo

38. Recitative
 What is the present hour? 'Tis born and gone!
 Think on the years already flown,
 Think you will see the bliss, but see in vain,
 Think on convicted error's self-tormenting pain.

 No more! I know not where to turn,
 My heart's too sad to laugh, too gay to mourn.

39. Air
 Fain would I, two hearts enjoying,
 This in penitence employing,
 Freely that resign to joy.

40. Recitative
 Vain the delights of age or youth,
 Without the sanction and applause of Truth.
 And as the soul more bright appears
 Than the frail earthly form she wears,
 So much true pleasures, from this glass,
 All other sublunary joys surpass.

41. Air
 On the valleys, dark and cheerless,
 From the mountain's summit, fearless,
 Soon you'll with contempt look down;
 And these darling pleasures slighting,
 In sublimer views delighting,
 Disbelieve that choice your own.
 On the valleys. . . da capo

42. Recitative
 Not venial error this, but stubborn pride,
 To leave a sure and friendly guide,
 Who, seeing you bewilder'd stray,
 Points out the short and easy way.
 See, see the happy port before you lies,
 And Time exhorts you to be wise.

 Darkly as through a cloud, I see
 The immense treasures of futurity,
 But present joys my heart so fill
 That, though inclin'd, I cannot will
 To leave this scene for immortality.

 Hear the call of Truth and Duty,
 And to Folly bid adieu.
 Ere to dust is chang'd thy beauty,
 Change thy heart, and good pursue.

43. Chorus
Ere to dust is chang'd thy beauty,
 Change thy heart, and good pursue.


44. Symphony

45. Recitative
Deceit (to Beauty)
 Once more I thee address,
 Regardful of thy happiness.

46. Air
 Charming Beauty, stop the starting tear from flowing
 All adown the rosy cheek.
 Pleasure still new charms bestowing,
 Ever cheerful Pleasure seek.
 Charming Beauty. . . da capo

47. Recitative
 Tempt me no more,
 Your words give no relief;
 I know no pleasure
 But in virtuous grief.

48. Air
 Sharp thorns despising,
 Cull fragrant roses!
 Why seek you pleasures
 Mix'd with alloy?
 Old age surprising,
 Soon the scene closes;
 Life's only treasure's
 Life to enjoy.
 Sharp thorns. . . da capo

49. Recitative
 Regard her not. Unvalu'd here
 Such tears may fall, but know each tear will prove
 A precious pearl in Heav'n above.

 Soft and prevailing is thy voice. Alas,
 Too long I've err'd! Put forth the heav'nly glass!

 Behold, it waits your view!

 Now, Pleasure, take my last adieu!

50. Air
 My former ways resigning,
 To Virtue's cause inclining,
 Thee, Pleasure, now I leave,
 Lest, when my strength shall fail me,
 No sorrow can avail me,
 Nor sickness comfort give.
 Pleasure. . . da capo

51. Recitative
 Since the immortal mirror I possess,
 Where Truth's reflected beauties glow,
 Thee faithless form, deluding glass,
 Thee to thy native earth I throw.

 Ah, stay, forbear!

Counsel (to Pleasure)
 In vain you this prevention dare.

52. Air
 Thus to ground, thou false, delusive,
 Flatt'ring mirror, thee I throw.
 Thou who, with vain art abusive,
 Didst exalt each charming feature,
 Far beyond the pride of nature,
 Feigning happiness below.
 Thus to ground. . . da capo

53. Accompagnato
 O mighty Truth! Thy power I see,
 All that was fair seems now deformity.
 This day my pride shall from its height descend,
 This day my reign of vanity shall end.
 Adieu, vain world! In search of greater good,
 I'll pass my days in sacred solitude;
 'Tis fit the slave of vanity should dwell
 In some sequester'd penitential cell.

54. Air
 From the heart that feels my warning,
 Grateful are the tears that flow.
 Pearly drops, the flow'rs adorning,
 Grace not more the dewy morning,
 Nor such blessings can bestow.
 From the heart. . . da capo

55. Recitative
 Pleasure, too long associates we have been,
 Now share conviction from Truth's faithful scene,
 Or to thy native darkness fly.

 As with Error I long have been dwelling,
 I with Truth now can have no contentment.

56. Air
 Like clouds, stormy winds then impelling,
 Disdainful I fly with resentment.
 Hark! The thunder round me rolls,
 Truth's awful angry frowns I see;
 Her arrows wound my trembling soul,
 Nor is there any joy for me.
 Ah no, Truth drives me to despair,
 Open, ye rocks, and hide me there.
 Like clouds. . . da capo

57. Recitative
 Farewell! — Now Truth, descending from the sky,
 Clad in bright beams, its glorious light displays.
 Oh, thither let me cast my longing eye,
 And strive to merit her inspiring rays.

58. Air
 Guardian angels, oh, protect me,
 And in Virtue's path direct me,
 While resign'd to Heav'n above.
 Let no more this world deceive me,
 Nor let idle passions grieve me,
 Strong in faith, in hope, in love.
 Guardian angels. . . da capo

59. Chorus

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