Last updated: Oct. 20, 1999
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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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