Last updated: Oct. 20, 1999
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Georg Friedrich Händel

JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN
(1744)

A Sacred Drama

Words by James Miller


DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Pharaoh, King of Egypt (bass)

Joseph, an Hebrew (alto)

Reuben, Brother to Joseph (bass)

Simeon, Brother to Joseph (tenor)

Judah, Brother to Joseph (tenor)

Benjamin, Brother to Joseph (soprano)

Potiphera, High Priest of On (alto)

Asenath, Daughter to the High Priest (soprano)

Phanor, Chief Butler to Pharaoh, afterwards Joseph's Steward (alto)


Chorus of Egyptians
Chorus of the Brethren
Chorus of Hebrews


 

ACT ONE

 

1. Overture

Scene 1

Scene, a Prison.

2a. Air

Joseph, reclining in a melancholy posture
Be firm, my soul, nor faint beneath
Affliction's galling chains!
When crown'd with conscious virtue's wreath,
The shackled captive reigns.

3. Recitative

Joseph, starting up
But wherefore thus? Whence, Heav'n, these bitter bonds?
Are these the just rewards of stubborn virtue?
Is this contagious cell the due abode
Of too much innocence? Down, down, proud heart,
Nor blindly question the beheft of Heav'n!
These chastisements are just, for some wise end
Are all the partial ills allotted man.

2b. Air (repeated)

Joseph
Be firm, my soul, nor faint beneath
Affliction's galling chains!
When crown'd with conscious virtue's wreath,
The shackl'd captive reigns.

Scene 2

To Joseph, Phanor, Pharaoh's Chief Butler.

4. Recitative

Phanor
Joseph, thy fame has reach'd great Pharaoh's ear,
Who, late in dreams perturb'd, and taught by me
The wondrous pow'r of thy experienc'd art,
Demands thy instant presence to unfold
Their mystic purport.

Joseph
Blest vicissitude!
Jehovah, whom I serve, bears witness to me,
And from the horrors of the pit, once more,
Will deign deliverance to His servant's soul.

5. Air

Joseph
Come, divine inspirer, come,
Make my humble breast thy home,
Draw the curtain from mine eye,
And present place futurity!
Thus, whilst I o'er Pharaoh's dream
Bright interpretation beam,
Pharaoh's self shall temples raise,
And Egypt incense to thy praise.
Come, divine inspirer. . . da capo

6. Recitative

Phanor
Pardon, that I so long forgot thee, Joseph!
My heart upbraids me with ingratitude.

Joseph
Pardon thyself! Ingratitude is a vice,
That bears its scorpions with it, the dire mildew
Which makes a desert of the human mind,
And merits more of pity than resentment.
But instant I'll with duteous step attend
My lord the king, and bow myself before him.

Exit Joseph.

Phanor
Fell monster, base ingratitude, avaunt!
No longer in this breast I'll give thee harbour.

7. Air

Phanor
Ingratitude's the queen of crimes,
For all the rest are of her train,
Her sure attendants at all times,
The great supporters of her reign.
If one you then ungrateful call,
You crown him monarch of them all.

Scene 3

A Room of State in Pharaoh 's Palace. Pharaoh, High Priest of On, Asenath, Joseph and Chorus of Egyptians.

8. Recitative

Pharaoh
Thus stranger, I have laid my troubled thoughts,
The midnight visions of my bed, before thee,
Which all the skill of Egypt can't unfold.
Come then, interpret to the king his dreams.

Joseph
O mighty Pharaoh, it is not in me!
Interpretation does belong to Heav'n,
And may the Lord Jehovah give the king
A gracious answer!

9. Chorus of Egyptians

O God of Joseph, gracious shed
Thy spirit on thy servant's head!
That to the king he may reveal
The truths his mystic dreams conceal.

10. Accompagnato

Joseph
Pharaoh, thy dreams are one. The Lord Jehovah
In vision shows what He's about to do.
The seven fat cattle, and full ears of corn,
Denote seven years of plenty. The like seven
Of meagre kind, and unreplenish'd grain,
Mark the same years of famine to succeed.
Embrace this warning, and with studious search
Look out a man of providence and wisdom,
To garner up in the redundant years
A store for comfort in the days of dearth.

11. Recitative

Pharaoh
Divine interpreter! What oracle
Could thus have solved my doubts? Where can we find
A man like thee, in whom God's spirit dwells?
Be this day ruler o'er my house and people,
And by thy word let all the land be govern'd;
But only in the throne will I be greater.

Joseph
These are thy workings, infinite Jehovah!

12. Air

Asenath
O lovely youth, with wisdom crown'd,
Where ev'ry charm has place!
What breast so firm was ever found,
As could resist such grace?
If thou hast stol'n my virgin heart,
To me in change thy own impart.
O lovely youth. . . da capo

13. Recitative

Pharaoh (putting his ring on Joseph's finger)
Wear, worthy man, this royal signet wear,
Pledge of thy boundless dignity and pow'r;
Whilst in our second chariot thou shalt ride,
And heralds cry before thee: "Bow the knee!"
Then henceforth, as the father of the country,
Let Zaphnath-Paaneah1 be thy name.

14. Chorus of Egyptians

Joyful sounds, melodious strains,
Health to Egypt is the theme!
Zaphnath rules, and Pharaoh reigns,
Happy nation, bliss supreme!

Exeunt.

Scene 4

Asenath alone.

15. Recitative

Asenath
Whence this unwonted ardour in my breast,
These new-born sighs? 'Tis true, that he is wise,
Majestic, graceful. Ah, I fear this stranger
Has trespass'd on my unsuspecting bosom.

16. Air

Asenath
I feel a spreading flame within my veins,
Which all my arts will not avail to quench.
With fruitless toil from place to place I range,
No toil, no place gives respite to my pains.
I feel. . . da capo

To Asenath, Joseph.

17. Recitative

Joseph
Fair Asenath,
I've asked thee of thy father, and the king,
To help allay the anxious toils of grandeur,
And smooth the rugged brow of public care.
Yet, authoriz'd by both, I dread my fate,
Till thy own voice has fix'd my destiny.

Scene 5

To them, Pharaoh and Potiphera.

Pharaoh
Zaphnath, I grant thy suit. Behold thy bride!

Potiphera
Approach, my Asenath. Behold thy husband!

Joseph
Oh, canst thou, fair perfection, say,
Oh, canst thou bless me with thy love?

Asenath
My father's wiII I must obey,
My monarch's pleasure must approve.

18. Duet

Joseph
Celestial virgin, charming maid,

Asenath
Godlike youth,

Both
Renown'd for innocence and truth!
Propitious Heav'n has thus in thee
Completed my felicity.

19. Recitative

Pharaoh
Now, Potiphera, instant to the temple
In joyous pomp! And whilst the rite's perform'd,
Let our loud clarions tell it to the skies.

Exeunt.

Scene 6

20. A Grand March during the Procession.

A Temple. The High Priest, joining fhe hands of Joseph and Asenath at the altar, Pharaoh, Attendants, and Chorus of Egyptians.

21. Recitative

High Priest
'Tis done, the sacred knot is tied,
Which death alone can e'er divide.

22. Air

High Priest
Pow'rful guardians of all nature,
Oh, preserve their faithful love!
Bless each graceful blooming feature,
Virtue sure hath charms to move.

23. Chorus of Egyptians

Immortal pleasures crown this pair,
Who thus by Heav'n high-favour'd are;
Joys ever round them wait.
May these below, like those above,
Contend who most and longest love,
And be as blest as great.

24. Recitative

Pharaoh
Glorious and happy is thy lot, O Zaphnath,
Join'd to such sweetness, dignity and virtue.

25. Air

Pharaoh
Since the race of time begun,
Since the birthday of the sun,
Ne'er was so much wisdom found
With such matchless beauty crown'd.

26. Chorus of Egyptians

Swift our numbers, swiftly roll,
Waft the news from pole to pole:
Asenath with Zaphnath's join'd,
Joy and peace to all mankind!

 

ACT TWO

 

Scene 1

Asenath, Phanor, and Chorus of Egyptians.

27. Chorus of Egyptians

Hail, thou youth, by Heav'n belov'd!
Now thy wondrous wisdom's prov'd.
Zaphnath Egypt's fate foresaw,
And snatch'd her from the famine's jaw.

28. Recitative

Phanor
How vast a theme has Egypt for applause!
O Asenath, behold thy mighty lord
High on the gilded car triumphant ride,
Whilst prostrate multitudes, that do him honours,
Obstruct his passage through the streets of Memphis.
The raptur'd virgins hail him in their lays,
And gazing matrons lift their grateful hands,
Whilst hoary sages rise, and bow the head,
And infants half articulate his name.

Asenath
These honours flow not from the flatt'rer's lips,
Like those that lavish stream in fortune's lap;
But from sincere benevolence, and love,
And bosoms glowing with a grateful transport.

29. Air

Phanor
Our fruits, whilst yet in blossom, die,
Our harvest in the new-sown seed;
Barren the mournful ridges lie,
Undeck'd the once enamelI'd mead.
But Zaphnath's providential care
Retaliates for the niggard soil;
Through him in dearth we plenty share,
Nor heed th'inexorable Nile.

30. Recitative

Phanor
He's Egypt's common parent, gives her bread;
He's Egypt's common safety, only hope;
Whilst Egypt's welfare is his only care.

31. Chorus of Egyptians

Blest be the man by pow'r unstain'd,
Virtue there itself rewarding.
Blest be the man to wealth unchain'd,
Treasure for the public hoarding.

32. Recitative

Asenath
Phanor, we mention not his highest glory!
Mark 'midst his grandeur what humility,
The gift of that great God whom he adores.
Yet something seems of late to bear upon him,
And cloud his wonted shine; not all his splendour,
Th'applause of millions, or my studious love,
Can yield him comfort, or assuage his griefs.

Phanor
Perchance he wants to view his native land,
Whose God and laws are the reverse of Egypt's.

Asenath
Phanor, 'tis true, he calls it oft to mind,
And oft in silence sighs, and mourns its absence;
Nor finds he peace, save when his smiling infants,
The pledges of our love, are in his arms.
There will he grasp them, there, with ardent look,
He eyes them, while, 'midst his struggling sighs,
Words burst like these:

33. Air

Asenath
"Together, lovely innocents, grow up,
Link'd in eternal chains of brother-love!
For you mayn't envy bear her pois'nous cup,
Nor hate her unrelenting armour prove.
Together. . ." da capo

34. Recitative

Asenath
He then is silent, then again exclaims:
"Inhuman brethren, O unhappy father!
What anguish too much love for me has cost thee!"
Such are his cares, nor have I yet discover'd
The fatal cause; but once more I'll attempt it.

Exeunt severally.

Scene 2

Simeon, in Prison.

35. Accompagnato

Simeon
Where are these brethren, why this base delay?
To let me languish a whole year in dungeonsl
But are not brethren base? O Joseph, Joseph!
That thought is hell. Remembrance scorches with it!
But was it I alone? Oh, no! Then Heav'n
Has been at 'compt perchance with my confederates,
Whilst the wild beast, false-tax'd with Joseph's death,
Has met them on the way, and ta'en his vengeance.

36. Air

Simeon
Remorse, confusion, horror, fear,
Ye vultures of the guilty breast!
Now furies, now she feels you here,
Who gnaw her most, when most distrest.

Exit.

Scene 3

Joseph and Phanor.

37. Recitative

Phanor
This Hebrew prisoner...

Joseph
Hither bring him, Phanor.

Exit Phanor.

The wide circumference of Egypt's region,
The vast extent between the Nile and ocean,
Given me to rule, is slavery, not an honour;
Not rest, but travel. Ye departed hours,
What happier moments have I seen! O Hebron,
What peace enjoy'd amidst thy smiling valleys!
Might I review thee, might I careless tend
Thy fleecy herd! Might I once more embrace
My good old sire, list to his sacred lessons
Of God's creation, of man's fatal fall,
Of the deep waters cov'ring all the earth,
The race-preserving ark, the Heav'n-hung bow,
Jehovah's divine promise to our fathers,
The glorious hope of Abrah'm and his seed!
It cannot be... Tyrant, enslaving greatness,
Who'd languish in thy gilded chains an hour,
That in the court of quietude could dwell?

38. Air

Joseph
The peasant tastes the sweets of life,
Unwounded by its cares;
No courtly craft, no public strife
His humble soul ensnares.
But grandeur's bulky noisy joys
No true contentment give;
Whilst fancy craves, possession cloys,
We die thus whilst we live.
The peasant tastes. . . da capo

39. Recitative

Joseph
But Simeon comes. Treacherous, blood-thirsty brother!
Fain wouldst thou have my life! Cruel, but hold,
I fear, O Heav'n, that some disastrous death
Has snatch'd the others from me, and perhaps
Simeon's the only brother left me now.
I'll touch thee not, the image of our father
Sits on thy brow, nor shall thy perfidy
Dissolve the sacred ties of love and nature.
But I will speak such daggers to thy soul!

Scene 4

Joseph and Simeon.

Simeon
I tremble at his presence.

Joseph
Thou impostor!
Com'st thou before me, but to dare my fury?
Where are thy brethren, brother-traitors? Ah,
Did not I say it, did not I foresee it?
Ye serpent-spies, under pretext of famine
Ye came to see the nakedness of Egypt.
One year has run its course, nor yet return'd.
Where is their faith, impostor? Thou shalt pay
The forfeit of their guilt.

Simeon
My gracious lord,
Our testimony's true. By famine driv'n,
We hither fled for succour. We are twelve brethren,
Sons of one father in the land of Canaan.
Ten hast thou seen, and one is not; the youngest
Was to the care of his old father left.

Joseph
The sight of him might dissipate my doubt.
But where's your promise? Why is he not come?

Simeon
Paternal love, my lord, alone retains him.
What anguish must it give the good old sire,
To have this only hope torn from his bosom,
The prop and comfort of his falling years?
How would it shake his poor old tott'ring frame,
How wring his bleeding heartl

Joseph (aside)
Peace, nature, peace!

Simeon
Grief for the loss of his beloved Joseph,
Already reigns too cruel on his heart.
No sun or sets or rises on the earth,
That doth not find him, and leave him too in tears.

Joseph (aside)
Great God! sustain my fortitude!
(to Simeon)
This Joseph,
How died he?

Simeon
A wild beast, my lord, devour'd him.

Joseph
Devour'd by a wild beast? Have, have a care!
Didst thou then see his bleeding arteries?
His mangled limbs? Now, by the life of Pharaoh,
I spy some treachery. There are men on earth
More cruel, Simeon, than the wild beast.

Simeon
Dreadful discourse!

Joseph
He trembles!

Simeon
Thy suspicion...

Joseph
Is just. Know you not yet I can divine
And view the dark recesses of the soul?
In vain from me you'd hide the truth, impostor!

Exit Joseph.

40. Air

Simeon
Impostor! Ah, my foul offence,
Wrote in my face,
Oh, dire disgrace,
Admits, admits of no defence.
Though treach'rous hearts from mortal sight
May veil a while
Their impious guile,
Heav'n sees and brings dark deeds to light.

Scene 5

Joseph, Asenath.

41. Recitative

Joseph
Whence, Asenath, this grief that hangs upon thee,
And like a morning mist which hovers o'er
The violet's bed, bedews thy lovely cheeks?

Asenath
Life of my life, and source of all my bliss,
It is but to resemble thee the more.
When Zaphnath sighs, can Asenath be gay?
Can Asenath enjoy, when Zaphnath suffers?

42. Air

Asenath
The silver stream, that all its way
Transparent to the ocean flows,
Mix'd with the turbid surges grows
As ruffled and impure as they.
Thus glided I through life's serene;
But now dire griefs thy breast inflame,
My mingling bosom shares the same,
And I, like thee, am wretched seen.
The silver stream. . . da capo

43. Recitative

Asenath
Tell me, oh tell me thy heart's malady,
That I may steal it from thee if I can.

Joseph
A slight disorder, public cares...

Enter Phanor.

Phanor
My lord,
The long-expected strangers are arriv'd,
And with them comes a youth of matchless beauty.

Joseph (aside)
My Benjamin, thanks Heav'n!
(To Phanor)
Straight make them enter.
(To Asenath)
My love, retire awhile. Soon thou shalt know
The business of my heart. Permit me only
Some moments more.

Asenath
Your will, my lord, is mine.

Exeunt.

Scene 6

Phanor and Joseph's Brethren.

44. Recitative

Phanor
Fear not, peace be unto you. 'Twas your God
That gave you treasure in your sacks. For me,
I had your money, and declare you guiltless.
Think not, that Zaphnath bears so base a soul
As to condemn you wrongfully, nor one
So cruel to refuse you further succour.

Judah
Thy gracious words revive my drooping spirits;
And flatt'ring hope of being guiltless thought
Glows in my breast, and kindles life anew.

45. Air

Judah
To keep afar from all offence,
And conscious of its innocence,
Is not enough for the defence
Of an unspotted heart.
A slight suspicion oftentimes
Of uncommitted unthought crimes
Its purity with slander limes,
And gives it the delinquent's part.
To keep afar. . . da capo

46. Chorus of the Brethren

Thus one, with ev'ry virtue crown'd,
For ev'ry vice may be renown'd.

Scene 7

To them, Joseph and Attendants.

47. Recitative

Reuben
Once more, O pious Zaphnath, at thy feet
We pay due homage, and implore thy succour.

Judah
Our rev'rend sire intreats thee to accept
A humble off'ring of our country's fruits;
Not such as with thy grandeur suits, but what
Our present wretched state has left. O Zaphnath,
Our fields lie desolate, and cover'd o'er
With naught but horror, barrenness, and mire,
Menacing the distress'd inhabitants
With death irreparable, which already
Sits on their pining cheeks. Oh, pity, pity!
Our good old father sues to thee for pity.
For pity we conjure thee, and for pity
Our youngest brother lowly bows, to kiss
Thy bounteous hand.

Benjamin
This kiss, my gracious lord,
Comes wash'd with tears. Oh, save my country, save
My dear, dear father! And may Abraham's God
For ever save my lord.

Joseph (aside)
How this discourse
Melts down my soul!
(To Benjamin)
Rise! Is your father well?
(Aside)
I had almost said mine.
(To the Brethren)
The good old man
Of whom ye spake, say, is he living still?

Judah
My lord, thy servant lives, and lives in health.

Joseph
And this his youngest son?

Benjamin
It is, my lord,
My name is Benjamin.

Joseph
Let me embrace thee,
And may, my son, that God whom thou invok'st,
Watch o'er, and ever shed his blessings on thee!

48. Air

Benjamin
Thou deign'st to call thy servant son,
And oh, methinks, my lord, I see,
With an amazing semblance shown,
My fathers image stamp'd on thee.
Thee, therefore, I would father call;
But the similitude of face
Is not enough, the soul is all.
Oh, may his soul thy bosom grace!

49. Recitative

Joseph (aside)
Sweet innocence, divine simplicity!
Tears, by your leave.
(To Attendants)
Attend, prepare our table
Instant; these men shall eat with me today.

Benjamin
Let not thy mercy linger! Grief and famine
Oppress our aged father. Aught delay
May fatal prove; we left him desolate.

Joseph (weeping)
I can refrain no longer; joy and anguish
Jointly demand my tears.

Exeunt Joseph, Phanor and Attendants.

Reuben
Didst thou observe him, Judah? Mark his looks?

Judah
I did. Canst thou interpret them?

Reuben
I cannot.
Profound, and inaccessible, O Judah,
Are all the inward movements of the great,
And never by the countenance are known.

Judah
May great Jehovah turn his heart to pity!

50. Chorus of the Brethren

O God, who in Thy heav'nly hand
Dost hold the hearts of mighty kings,
Oh, take Thy Israel, and his land,
Beneath the shadow of Thy wings!
Thou know'st our wants before our pray'r,
Oh, let us not confounded be!
Thy tender mercies let us share,
O Lord, we trust alone in Thee.

 

ACT THREE

 

51. Sinfonia

Scene 1

Asenath, Phanor.

52. Recitative

Asenath
What say'st thou, Phanor, proves these strangers
Such base ingrates? Bore off the silver cup,
That's sacred to my lord's peculiar use!

Phanor
They have, but shall not long enjoy their rapine.
Already they're retaken, and in bonds
Await their doom.

Asenath
Ungrateful, impious men!

53. Air

Asenath
The wanton favours of the great
Are like the scatter'd seed when sown;
A grateful harvest they create
Whene'er on gen'rous acres thrown.
But if, as oh, too oft, they fall
Where weeds and briers the soil profane,
Or lost, they bear no fruit at all,
Or, bearing, yield a worthless grain.

Scene 2

To them Joseph.

54. Recitative

Asenath
Whence so disturb'd, my lord? Let not the crime
Of others be inflicted on thyself.

Joseph
My sorrows have a deeper, deadlier root.

Asenath
Why dost thou hide them then from me? O Zaphnath,
This diffidence does wrong to faithful love.
Wherefore that look, those sighs? Much, much I fear
That Asenath's the source of this disquiet.
Why from her conceaI'd? Dire jealousy,
That baneful viper, rankles in thy breat.

55. Air

Asenath
Ah jealousy, thou pelican,
That prey'st upon thy parent's bleeding heart!
Though born of love, love's greatest bane,
Still cruel, wounding her with her own heart.
Ah jealousy. . . da capo

56. Recitative

Joseph
Oh, wrong me not! Thy Zaphnath never harbour'd
A thought that way, O Asenath!
My dear old father lives, still lives,
But inconsolable and wretched.

Asenath
Whence springs this misery?

Joseph
From this cruel famine.
No succour left whilst, for his dim affliction,
I only shed unprofitable tears.

Asenath
But why, my lord, hast thou not Egypt's stores,
The wealth of nations?

Joseph
Pharaoh made me not
Dispenser, only keeper of his treasures;
Nor should corruption cleave unto these hands,
Or would I touch what's sacred to the public,
To save myself and race from instant ruin.

Asenath
Then call them into Egypt! Whence, my lord,
This criminal delay?

Joseph
I fear the king,
Fear Egypt too.

Asenath
Such fears are but ungen'rous;
You've all the hearts of Pharaoh and his people.

57. Air

Joseph
The people's favour, and the smiles of pow'r,
Are no more than the sunshine of an hour.
There envy with her snakes assails,
Here cank'ring slander still prevails,
Till love begins to wane.
Oblivion then envelops all,
Our merit's past, and straight our fall
Is still'd by public gain.

58. Recitative

Asenath
Art thou not Zaphnath? Is not Egypt sav'd
All thy own work? And won't her sons with transport
Give a new life to him, who gave thee life?
I'll to the king, and supplicate,
With laud for bounties past, this farther boon.

59. Air

Asenath
Prophetic raptures swell my breast,
And whisper we shall still be blest;
That this black gloom shall break away,
And leave more heav'nly bright the day.
Prophetic raptures. . . da capo

Exit Asenath.

Scene 3

To Joseph, Phanor with the Brethren in Chains.

60. Recitative

Simeon
Whence this vile treatment, these injurious chains?
For what transgression are we shackl'd thus,
Like thieves and traitors?

Phanor
That's like what you are.
You've stoI'n the sacred cup that's set apart,
For my lord's use.
Why have ye thus rewarded ill for good?

Simeon
Imposture, fury! If the sacred vessel
Be found with us, rain vengeance on our heads.

Joseph
Straight we shall see, and then let the delinquent
Alone receive the wages of his guilt.

Scene 4

To them Phanor.

61. Recitative

Phanor
At length the cup is found!

Joseph
Where?

Phanor
Hid, my lord, amidst thy gen'rous presents.
Benjamin had it.

Joseph
Benjamin!

Benjamin
I had it?

Phanor
Behold his sack, and in it view the theft.

Benjamin
Am I a robber? Shield me, righteous Heav'n!

Joseph
Seize him.

Benjamin
O Heav'n, thou knowst my innocence!

Joseph
No more!
Leave him alone to suffer. As for you,
Go, get you up in peace unto your father.

62. Accompagnato

Benjamin
What, without me? Ah, how return in peace!
What can you say, what comfort can you yield
To the distracted parent? O unhappy,
Unhappy Benjamin! Thou at thy birth
Gav'st death unto thy mother, and now dying,
Thou likewise tak'st thy tender father's life.

63. Arioso

Benjamin
Oh, pity!

Joseph (aside)
Ah, I must not hear.

Benjamin
Not to myself!

Joseph (aside)
Be blind, my eyes.

Benjamin
My sinking father!

Joseph (aside)
Trait'rous ear!

Benjamin
Oh, pity him!

Joseph (aside)
Be still, my sighs!

Benjamin
Remember, at the first embrace,
You calI'd me son. Oh, view this face!
I still as much deserve the name;
Thy heart alone is not the same.

64. Recitative

Joseph
To prison with him!

Simeon
O illustrious Zaphnath,
Give room to pity! Thou who rulest kingdoms,
Rule, to thy great glory, thy own spirit.
Or to his father render back this youth,
Or death to us.

Joseph (roughly)
On whom the cup was found, him I retain.
Exit.

Simeon
What, gone! Not hear us!

Reuben
Yet methought I saw
Some marks of pity on his face.

Simeon
What pity?
The man who flies the wretched, nor will hear them,
For fear of yielding to their piercing cries,
Has only pity for himself.

Reuben
Peace, Simeon!
Remember Dothan's fields, the horrid pit,
And Joseph's cries! Were we not deaf to them?
Then we'd not hear, and now we are not heard.
What counsel can we take? If we return,
Our father dies with grief; if here we stay,
With famine: death is either way his lot,
And black despair is ours.

65. Arioso

Simeon
O Gracious God,
We merit well his scourge; but Thou art He,
Whose property is ever to have mercy.

66. Chorus of the Brethren

Eternal monarch of the sky,
Our cruel crime thou didst descry.
Oh, with the same all-piercing eye
Our melting penitence observe.
Thou, the beginning and the end,
Creator, father, guardian, friend,
Returning prodigals attend,
And grant us aid we don't deserve.

67. Recitative

Simeon
But peace, Zaphnath returns.

Scene 5

To them Joseph.

Joseph
How, not departed?
Ye insolent, away! What foolish hope?

Judah
Though fear, my lord, and anguish
Have high lock'd our lips, yet would I crave
To offer one word more, and oh, my lord,
Let not thine anger burn against thy servant.
When drove by dire necessity to wrest
From the reluctant bosom of our father,
(Ah, with what force, but such was thy command!)
His youngest, dearest son, his heart's first joy,
He weeping thus bespake us: "Well you know,
This child's the prop and succour of my age,
The only relict of my Rachel's bed.
Joseph, alas, my much-lamented Joseph,
In a sad hour went out, to the tiger's rage.
If then you tear this also from my arms,
And mischief shall befall him, my gray hairs
Ye will bring down with sorrow to the grave."

Joseph (aside)
My soul itself now weeps.

68. Air

Simeon
Thou hadst, my lord,
A father once, perhaps hast now. Oh feel,
Feel then for us. As thou didst love thy own,
Oh, pity ours, feel then our anguish, feel.

69. Accompagnato

Simeon
Give, give him up the lad in whom his life is bound.
Oh, let me suffer
Whatever punishment is doom'd for him.
He is too young for slavery or stripes;
Labour and years have render'd me more hardy.
Lay all on me, imprisonment, chains, scourges,
All, all I can endure. But to my father
To be a messenger of death, I cannot.

70. Recitative

Joseph (aside)
I can no longer...
(To Phanor)
Phanor, bring the youth.

Exit Phanor, and returns with Benjamin.

Far off, ye guards and servants, from my presence
Let ev'ry one go forth.
(To the Brethren) Know, I am Joseph.
Doth my dear father live? I am your brother,
Your long-lost brother. I am Joseph.

The Brethren
Joseph!

Simeon
O Heav'n!

Judah
Joseph!

Simeon (aside)
Wretched me!

Joseph
Arise,

(Phanor rises them.)

And banish fear. My Benjamin, come hither,
And let me press thee to my yearning bosom.
Brethren, receive and give a kind embrace.
(To Benjamin) Forgive this harmless stratagem.
(To the Brethren) And ye,
Pardon my groundless jealousy. I fear'd
You now to Benjamin might prove perfidious,
As erst to me. But I have prov'd your faith.

Simeon
O Joseph!
Just, but mysterious, are the ways of Heav'n.

Scene the Last

To them Asenath.

Asenath
Whilst the Nile and Memphis,
To him and his are destin'd for a country;
Thus Pharaoh has ordain'd. Now, my dear lord,
Cast sorrow from thy breast.

Joseph
And thou my fair,
Disclaim thy doubts, and no more breathe suspicion.

Asenath
Trust me, O Zaphnath, 'twas the breath of love.

Joseph
Mine too, O Asenath, was still the same.

71. Duet

Asenath and Joseph
What's sweeter than the new-blown rose,
Or breezes from the new-mown close?
What's sweeter than an April-morn,
Or May-day's silver fragrant thorn?
What than Arabia's spicy grove?
Oh, sweeter far the breath of love.

72. Recitative

Joseph
With songs of ardent gratitude and praise
Let us approach the High EternaI's throne,
The fountain of all joy, all peace, all honour.

73. Chorus

We will rejoice in thy salvation, and triumph in the name of the Lord our God. Hallelujah!

1 Zaphnath-Paaneah signifies saviour of the world [note of James Miller].


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