Judith: A sacred drama. As it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. The music composed by Dr. Arne.
JUDITH. AN ORATORIO.
Chorus of Iſraelites.
FATHER of Mercies lend thine Ear,
Behold us with a pitying Eye.
Thy wretched ſuppliant People hear,
Help, help, O Lord! or elſe we dye.
Well may ye mourn, O miſerable Race!
Well may ye mourn: The Angel of Deſtruction
Even now on Wing malignant hovers o'er us,
And ſhow'rs upon our Heads the Wrath of Heaven.
[Page 2] A Man.
Ye are the Cauſe, ye Governors and Rulers,
Of the dire Miſchiefs that are fallen upon us.
Why ſought ye not a Peace with theſe Aſſyrians
E'er they approach'd our City? Now their Troops
Encompaſs us about, have ſeiz'd our Springs,
And thro' a Dearth of Water all muſt periſh.
OZIAS, CHARMIS, Chorus.
Throw wide our Gates, let Holofernes enter
With all his Troops, and ſpoil us! we will ſerve him.
It's better ſo to ſerve, than to behold
Our Wives and Children die before our Faces.
Brethren take Courage, let us yet endure
Five Days, and if within that Space the Lord
Turn not his Mercy towards us, we will do
According to the Words ye now have ſpoken.
Have then our Miſeries at length ſubdued us?
And muſt thoſe Heathens lord it o'er the Race
Of abject Iſrael?
Within five Days
Bithulia ſhall be plundered, our young Men
Slain with the Sword, our Virgins violated;
And the ſmall Remnant muſt groan out a Life
In Slavery and Exile.
Know'ſt thou not
What Wonders the Almighty can perform?
Oh weak of Faith! ſhould God ſtretch forth his Arm,
Is it too late to ſave his ſinking People?
I feel my Spirit ſtirr'd with ſtrange Emotions.
Raiſe, raiſe ſome potent Strain, whilſt I retireing,
In holy Meditation ſeek the Lord.
Where are the Ancients of the City?—Lead me,
This inſtant lead me to them; with ſome vaſt
Deſign my Soul is big! Yet what am I,
Moſt Gracious! what am I, that thou ſhouldſt do
This Thing, and by an Inſtrument ſo feeble
Blazon thy glorious Name among the Nations.
OZIAS, CHARMIS, JUDITH, ABRA, Chorus of Iſraelites
Brethren, behold! the Widow of Menaſſes,
Judith, for Wiſdom, and for Beauty fam'd:
This way ſhe comes attended by her Damſel.
Daughter, what wouldſt thou?
Hear me, O ye Rulers!
Ye have not rightly done to tempt the Lord,
By ſwearing, that unleſs within five Days
He turn'd to help us, ye would yield the City.
Th' raſh Inhabitants compell'd us to it.
But thou implore the Lord, that he may ſend
Rain from the Clouds, and we ſhall faint no more.
Hear me! I mean to do an Act ſhall go,
Throughout all Generations: I will go
Forth from the City to the Aſſyrian Camp
With this my Virgin; and within the Time
But queſtion not the Scope of my Deſign.
For nought I will divulge 'till all be finiſh'd.
She breaths prophetic Strains! depart in Peace,
And the Lord God go with thee. Wonder not
My Brethren, that upon this Woman's Strength
We reſt our Hopes of Safety! through the Tribes
The Fame of her Religion is gone forth;
And know, a ſingle Champion ſo provided,
Is better than a Hoſt of the Prophane.
END of the FIRST ACT.
OZIAS, CHARMIS, Chorus of Iſraelites.
Lo! where fair Judith iſſuing from the Gate,
With her Attendant, now deſcends the Mountain:
How beautiful ſhe looks, and with what Vigour
She treads along!—'Tis God! 'tis God inſpires her
To ſome great Purpoſe; laud his holy Name.
HOLOFERNES, JUDITH, ABRA.
Thus, noble Holofernes, thou haſt heard
Why with this Virgin I forſook yon City;
Becauſe the Inhabitants by Crimes moſt odious,
Where drawing on themſelves the Wrath of Heaven.
When the dread Hour is nigh, God ſhall forewarn me,
And I, by ſecret Paſſes, will conduct
Thee, and thy Troops, to the devoted Walls:
Nor ſhall Bethulia only fall a Prey,
But all Judea.
Wonder of thy Sex! what Language can expreſs
What Words do Juſtice to thy Excellence?
For Comelineſs of Form, and Strength of Mind,
There is not ſuch another.
Spoke my Lord
To his poor Handmaid?—Let me not ſuppoſe it.
Far be ſuch vain Thoughts from the Wretch that toils
In this dark Vale of Sin and Miſery.
HOLOFERNES, JUDITH, ABRA, Chorus of Aſſyrians.
Strait thro' the Camp let this Command be iſſued,
That none preſume t'approach the Hebrew Women,
But with ſuch due Reſpect and Reverence,
As ſuits the Friends of the Aſſyrian King.
An unmoleſted Paſſage let them find,
And ample Liberty to obſerve their Laws,
Their Cuſtoms, and Religion.
Chorus of Aſſyrians.
Live for ever!
Nebuchodonoſor and Holofernes!
Come, lovely Judith, for thy Reſidence
Yonder ſuperb Pavilion we aſſign.
Adorn'd with every matchleſs Grace
By Heaven from whence ſhe ſprung;
We view the Goddeſs in her Face,
We hear it in her Tongue.
Againſt ſuch Charms, there's no Defence;
O take! Poſſeſs me whole!
Thy Beauty captivates my Senſe,
Thy Wiſdom quells my Soul.
Chorus of Aſſyrians.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Judea falls,
Yon ſtubborn City bows her Walls;
Victors we come, her Gates diſplay,
And Deſolation marks our Way.
While every Sword from Slaughter reeks,
The Virgin cries, the Matron ſhrieks;
Thro' her pale Streets Groans, Shouts reſound,
And all her Turrets flame around.
Thus far the Lord hath led us by the Hand,
Till in the Midſt of theſe Idolaters
Lodg'd in a Heap of Stubble, we ſhall ſoon
Blaze and conſume them. Only thou, my Siſter!
Beware of their Deceptions. Nor with Flattery
Let them intoxicate our Reaſon.
The Praiſe of the Abandon'd to the Ear
Of Virtue, ſounds but like the Serpent's Hiſs
As timely Warning to avoid its Sting.
Too well by thy Example am I taught
To ſcorn the glittering Gewgaws they eſteem.
JUDITH, ABRA, Chorus of Aſſyrians.
Soft, break we off, what wanton Troop comes yonder?
This Way they bend their Steps. Now ſpeak your Errand.
If from the Great, the gracious Holofernes,
Ought in Command ye bear, behold a Vaſſal,
Submiſſive to the Pleaſures of her Lord.
[Page 12] A Man.
Thus then our general greets the peerleſs Judith.
To Night he holds a Banquet, and her Preſence
Only is wanting to compleat its Splendor.
Further he charg'd me—but I need not ſpeak it,
Charms have the Hebrews, and the Aſſyrians Hearts.
Come, beauteous Stranger! give a Looſe to Joy—
Our General amidſt the Noiſe of War,
Has a Soul tun'd to all the ſofter Paſſions—
Enough, ſhe ſmiles Conſent, return we back
With the glad Anſwer of our Embaſſy.
Haſte to the Gardens of Delight,
Bleſt Scenes! where plenteous Pleaſures grow;
Where Fruits luxuriant charm the Sight,
And court the Hand from every Bough.
No Churls are bid to Nature's Treat,
The Goods the Gods provide, employ;
To thank the Givers pluck and eat,
And ſatisfy the Soul with Joy.
The Lyon's in the Toils, we have him faſt,
And never ſhall he walk abroad again
To make the Foreſts tremble: Hie we hence
To this ſame Banquet, yet imagine not,
That my chaſte Body I will render up
To fulſome Purpoſes; no, God ſhall ſave me;
To whoſe Almighty Guidance I reſign
Myſelf this Night. Fall proſtrate on the Earth,
Join me in fervent Prayer from Heart and Voice,
Let our warm Vows in Uniſon aſpire.
Oh thou, on whom the Weak depend,
Creator! Father! Champion! Friend!
Source divine of every Bleſſing,
Merciful beyond expreſſing,
To thy vow'd Votariſt's Suit attend.
Inſpiration pure impart,
Nerve her Arms and ſteel her Heart.
Kind Influence ſhed on this important Hour,
And as thou giv'ſt her Courage, grant her Power.
Crown me with Laurels, bring the Chaplets hither,
With Roſes and with Myrtle bind each Brow,
Like the fam'd Son of Lybian Jove I ſtand,
When to the Indian Shore he led his Legions,
And Victory fought beſide him!—Fill the Goblets!
To Father Bacchus pour Libation due.
Let Mirth and Muſick teſtify Devotion,
So ſhould the Deity be prais'd and honour'd.
[Page 15]END of the SECOND ACT.
HOLOFERNES, JUDITH, Attendant, Chorus.
Silence each ruder Sound, let nothing breathe
But ſofteſt Harmony.—Fair Judith comes,
Another Venus by the Graces led.
So when the Sea-born Goddeſs from the Foam
Prolific ſprung, as on the boiling Deep
Her Form appear'd, the loud Winds fell to Whiſpers,
And the Waves crept in Murmurs to the Shore.
Behold at thy Command, O Holofernes!
Thine Handmaid ſtands before thee.
O'erpow'r me with their Luſtre! in a Blaze
Of Beauty I am loſt!—O let me lean
My Head upon thy Boſom.
Shall I queſtion what to my Lord ſeems good—recline thy Head,
While I to lulling Sounds my Voice attune
And ſing thy weary'd Spirits to Repoſe.
[Page 16] Abra.
Bacchus to Venus has reſign'd the Hero
With Wine oppreſſed; and in extatic Slumbers
His Senſes are diſſolved; remove him gently
To the inmoſt Chambers of the Tent, beneath
The Purple Canopy, beſide his Couch
The fair ſhall watch and guard him from Diſturbance.
OZIAS, CHARMIS, JUDITH, ABRA.
Great are thy Works, O God! and wonderful
The Mercy which thou ſheweſt the Sons of Men.
Daughter proceed, how ſcap'ſt thou undefiled?
When we were left together in the Tent,
There Holofernes lay, ſtupid with Wine:
Then came the Spirit of the Lord upon me,
And drawing from his Sheath his ſhining Faulchion
I ſmote him twice, and ſtrook away his Head.
Which when my faithful Abra had received,
We paſs'd unqueſtioned 'till we reach'd Bithulia.
Bleſſed art thou, O Judith, among Women.
What thou haſt wrought to-day for Iſrael
Shall be remembered to thy Praiſe for ever.
JUDITH, OZIAS, CHARMIS, ABRA, Chorus.
Behold, my Brethren, how the Lord hath ſmitten
By a weak Woman's Hand, thine Enemy.
Here, take his Head, and hang it on the Walls,
Gird every Man his Sword upon his Thigh,
And feign yourſelves preparing all for Battle.
The Aſſyrians will perceive ye are in motion,
And ſtraitway call their General, Holofernes;
But no Cries wake the Dead; then ſhall they fear
And fly before you, while you thunder down,
And overthrow them with a mighty Slaughter.
O Lord, our God! tremendous riſe,
In Battle dreadful mount the Storm;
Before thy Face while Vengeance flies,
Thy wrathful Mandates to perform,
And blaſt thy Enemies
In thine Anger hot and fierce,
Melt their Hearts, their Hopes diſperſe;
Sweep their Bands like Chaff away,
And caſt them to the Dogs a Prey.
Iſraelitiſh Prieſts, Men, Women, Elders.
Daughters of Sion, hear ye what is done?
How Judith with the Damſel her Companion
Has brought Deſtruction and Reproach on Aſſur.
Take Branches in your Hands, and crown'd with Garlands,
In Triumph let us bear them through the City.
Well haſt thou ſaid. Prepare a ſolemn Feaſt
And high Rejoicing, for no leſs is due
To God, and his elected Members.
Breath the Pipe, the Timbrel ſound,
Strew the Olive, ſtrew the Bays;
In grateful Songs rejoice,
Let every Hand and every Voice,
Join in matchleſs Judith's Praiſe.
Breath the Pipe, the Timbrels ſound, &c.
The Victor on his lofty Seat,
By ſhouting Crouds proclaim'd the Great,
Exulting Pleaſure feels;
While Spoils of Kings in Battle ſlain,
And captive Troops, a numerous Train
Surround his Chariot Wheels.
But weak the Joys th' ambitious Prize,
To thoſe which round the Patriot riſe,
And in his Soul prevail;
While thus a grateful People ſav'd,
By Toils endur'd and Dangers brav'd,
Their Friend and Champion hail.
JUDITH, ABRA, Iſraelites.
Iſrael, for Shame!—What, are ye like the Heathen,
To give the Glory of God's Works to Man?
Proceed no farther with this Prophanation—adore Jehovah.
OZIAS, ABRA, Iſraelites.
Iſrael rejoice! thy Horn is now exalted.
From hence we may deſcry th' Aſſyrian Hoſt
In wild Diſorder, this and that Way flying.—
They caſt away their Arms, and leave their Camps
A Spoil to our victorious Countrymen.
O bleſs'd Event! the Tempeſt is diſpers'd
Which threatened to o'erwhelm the Houſe of David,
And now the Sun of Peace ſhall riſe upon us.
OZIAS, CHARMIS, JUDITH, ABRA, Iſraelites.
Here, O ye Sons of Jacob, let us reſt!
Yet ſince God heard you, when in ſore Affliction
Ye ſung a Hymn in Honour to his Name,
Joyful repeat it now; for to his Ear
Such Songs of Praiſe and Piety are ſweet.
In grateful Clouds to Heaven they aſcend
And fall again in Bleſſings on Mankind.