Denn alles Fleisch…
This is one of my favorite pieces, even though it’s from the romantic period, which usually doesn’t really interest me.
The text is from 1Peter 1:24:
For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.
Which itself is a loose quote from Isa 40:6-8:
The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh [is] grass, And all its loveliness [is] like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people [are] grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
1Peter is quoting from the Septuagint, which has a slightly differing text of Isaias:
The voice of one saying, “Cry!” and I said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass: The grass withers, and the flower fades (…) but the word of our God abides for ever.”
Despite the rather gloomy text, Brahms’ music is actually joyful. This is what he intended. He did not want to compose a requiem according to the standard liturgy, so he made his own personal choice of texts from the bible.