“Winter” from The Seasons

The Jaded Year Fades Away


The jaded year now fades away and freezing fogs and mists abound,
Enshrouding mountains in their grasp and hov’ring over barren plains.
For e’en the midday sun is now eclips’d by dusky gloom.


From Lapland’s dismal caverns with stealth comes stormy Winter,
And by those threat’ning steps all Nature, stupefy’d, is still’d.


Light and Life Are Enfeebl’d


Light and life are enfeebl’d, warmth and joy have sadly vanish’d.
Mournful, gloomy daylight follows endless, unrelenting darkness.


The Lake Lies Lock’d in Frosty Grip


The lake lies lock’d in frosty grip, the babbling brook is silenc’d by ice.
The cataract, once plunging from the tow’ring ledge, in deathly stillness roars no more.
In brittle woodlands naught is heard.
The fields are cloth’d and valleys fill’d with monstrous banks of feath’ry snow.
And all the earth is now a grave where Nature’s splendours sleep entomb’d.
Across the frozen wilderness of ruthless, glacial savageness, a ghostly pallor covers all.


The Wand’rer Stands Perplex’d


The wand’rer stands perplex’d, in great anxiety;
He knows not where his falt’ring steps to turn.
In vain he strives to find his way as neither path nor track appears,
And wading through the drifting snow he finds himself still more astray.
Too soon his courage fails; his heart is seiz’d by fear.
He knows the day will soon be gone and weariness and cold turn all his limbs to lead.
Then suddenly ahead of him he sees a bright and flick’ring light.
With joy restor’d again, and eager, beating heart, in haste he runs to reach the house;
From ice and snow he hopes to find relief.


And Drawing Near the Welcome Sight


And drawing near the welcome sight, his frozen ears, benumb’d by howling winds,
Hear the sound of cheerful voices.


Behind the door, he finds a merry gathering of many friends and neighbours,
engag’d in work and chatter to while away the evening hours.


See all around the kitchen range old men are talking of times long past;
Whilst young men piles of willow-reeds assemble,
as baskets, nets and fish-traps all need twining.
The mothers work at the distaff, as their daughters spin at the wheel;
And all the work is cheer’d with simple song and melody.


Whirring, Whirring, Whirring!

Chorus & Hannah:

Whirring, whirring, whirring! Set the wheel a-purring!

Little wheel, please twist for me thread as choice as e’er can be,
For my smock a-spinning!
Whirring, whirring, whirring! Set the wheel a-purring!

Weaver, weave it soft and fine, worthy of this heart of mine,
Free, but never sinning!
Whirring, whirring, whirring! Set the wheel a-purring!

Fair without and pure within, charming, comely, flawless skin,
All the lads a-winning!
Whirring, whirring, whirring! Set the wheel a-purring!

Pure within and fair without, prayerful, zealous and devout,
Marriage soon beginning!


Now the Flax Has All Been Spun


Now the flax has all been spun, the wheels no longer turn.
The folk draw round with lads and lasses all together.
They long to hear a little tale which Hannah oft recounts.


A Noble Squire of Great Renown

Hannah & Chorus:

A noble squire, of great renown, desir’d a lovely maid,
And spying her alone one day, jump’d off his horse and said:
“My pretty lass, you’ve won my heart! Come, just a little kiss…”
She cried with fear and trembling, “Ah, why sir, that’s quite amiss!”

Ha ha ha ha! But why, why not say “no”?

“Be not alarm’d, thou beauteous maid” with roguish charm quoth he,
“And doubt not that I’ll always prove a truelove unto thee.
Please! Be my lady! Here! My ring, my purse, and watch so fine.
And should you still want more from me, just speak – it shall be thine!”

Ha ha ha ha! Why not, if you so please?

“Kind sir,” quoth she, “I pray, beware my brothers, lest they see;
For should they spread the tale about, what would become of me?
Were they not working over there, to thee I might yet yield…
Creep through that hedge, and let me know if they’re in yonder field.”

Ha ha ha ha! And so what next I pray?

The thorns and briars held him so fast as he were in a vice;
Meanwhile the maid sprang on his steed and vanish’d in a trice!
“Farewell to thee, my gentle swain,” cried she in cheerful scorn,
“Next time you try to pluck a rose, you’ll not forget the thorn!”

Ha ha ha ha! Well play’d, well play’d young lass!


And from the East There Blows An Icy Blast


And from the east there blows an icy blast of piercing cold, harsh and cutting to the bone.
It gathers up the mists and steals the breath from man and beast.
With this ferocious tyrant Winter’s battle has been won.
Now speechless and in fear, the whole of Nature lies aghast.


Consider Then, Misguided Man


Consider then, misguided man, a picture of thy life unfolds.
The Spring of life, short-liv’d, is gone, the Summer spirit long pass’d by.
And then advance the Autumn years, while cold and pallid Winter nears
and points to thee an open grave.

Where now, those schemes of high endeavour?
Those lofty hopes and plans?
The search for earthly glory and vain desire of fame?
Where are they now, those days of plenty, and wanton luxury?
And where, those happy evenings of endless revelry?
Where are they now? Where?
They all are vanish’d, as a dream.
Only Virtue lasts!

Alone She lasts, and leads us on, unchangeable, through passing days and years,
in sorrow and in gladness to reach life’s highest destiny.


Then Dawns That Morn So Glorious

Simon, Lucas, Hannah & Chorus:

Then dawns that morn so glorious when God th’Almighty gathers us,
to life again renew’d; from pain and death forever free!

The gates of Heav’n fling open wide, the Holy Mount appears.
There stands the House of God, where peace and freedom dwell.

But who may pass between these gates?
The man whose life was incorrupt.

And who may climb the Holy Mount?
The man whose lips spoke only truth.

And who may make that house his dwelling?
The man who help’d the poor and weak.

And who in peace and joy may prosper?
The man who sav’d the pure and meek.

For lo! That glorious morn is near, behold, the morning light!
The gates of Heav’n fling open wide, the Holy Mount appears.
Forever gone, forever past, are days of endless suff’ring and wint’ry storms of life.
For Spring eternal reigns, and boundless joy and blessedness are Virtue’s true reward.

May we enjoy that true reward. Let us labour, let us battle.
Let us labour, let us battle, to secure that worthy prize.

Direct us in Thy ways, O God, and make us strong and brave.
Then shall we sing, and shall ascend into the glorious heav’nly realm. Amen.
                    Gottfried van Sweiten (1733-1803) & Paul McCreesh