Romanze (Ariette): Der Vollmond strahlt, D 797/3b

Romance (Arietta): The full moon is shining

(Poet's title: Romanze)

Set by Schubert:

  • D 797/3b
    piano version after 20th December 1823

    [December 1823]

Text by:

Wilhelmine Christiane von Chézy

Text written August-October 1823. 


Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshöhn,
Wie hab’ ich dich vermisst!
Du süßes Herz, es ist so schön,
Wenn treu die Treue küßt.

Was frommt des Maien holde Zier?
Du warst mein Frühlingsstrahl.
Licht meiner Nacht, o lächle mir
Im Tode noch einmal.

Sie trat hinein, beim Vollmondsschein,
Sie blickte himmelwärts:
“Im Leben fern, im Tode dein,”
Und sanft brach Herz an Herz.

Romance (Arietta): The full moon is shining

The full moon is shining on the mountain heights,
How I have missed you,
Oh sweet heart, it is so beautiful
When someone faithful kisses faithfully.

What is the point of the beauteous adornment of May?
It is you that was my beam of light in spring,
The light of my night, oh, smile on me
In death once more.

She came in as the full moon was shining,
She looked up towards the heavens,
“Far away in life, yours in death.”
And heart gently broke on heart.

Although Schubert’s setting of these words has always been one of his most popular songs, strictly speaking it is not a Lied. The text was not an independent poem but was part of a musical play (Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus) by Helmina von Chézy. She had hoped that her collaboration with Schubert would prove more of a success than her recent flop in Vienna with Weber’s ‘Grand romantic opera’ Euryanthe, but it was not to be.

The verses are sung in the play by Axa, an old nurse who had raised Rosamunde in obscurity (disguised as a shepherd) to protect her from the machinations at court which meant that she could not easily claim her royal inheritance. The reference to ‘kissing someone who is faithful’ and the final line about heart breaking upon heart were therefore not originally intended to have romantic overtones: in the context of the play they are about the trust and love between a foster mother and daughter. However, this fact was very soon forgotten. The play fell into obscurity after two performances in December 1823 and when Schubert arranged to have this aria / song published (for voice and piano) in March 1824 as part of his Opus 26 it began to live an independent life. After Schubert’s death his biographer Kreissle von Hellborn (1822 – 1869) interviewed Helmina von Chézy’s son about the plot of the (by then missing) play, but it was not until 1996 that a version of the whole text reappeared (published by Till Gerrit Waidelich).

Original Spelling


Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshöh'n,
Wie hab' ich dich vermißt,
Du süßes Herz, es ist so schön
Wenn Treu die Treue küßt.

Was frommt des Maien holde Zier?
Du warst mein Frühlingsstrahl,
Licht meiner Nacht, o, lächle mir
Im Tode noch einmal.

Sie trat herein, beim Vollmondsschein,
Sie blickte himmelwärts,
"Im Leben fern, im Tode dein."
Und sanft brach Herz an Herz.

Confirmed by Peter Rastl with Rosamunde. Drama in fünf Akten von Helmina von Chézy. Musik von Franz Schubert. Erstveröffentlichung der überarbeiteten Fassung. Mit einer Einleitung und unbekannten Quellen herausgegeben von Till Gerrit Waidelich. Verlegt bei Hans Schneider [Tutzing] 1996, p. 131 and 56.

Note: The libretto of Chézy’s initial version of her play, with the title Rosamunde, Fürstinn von Cypern, which was staged in 1823 in Vienna with Schubert’s music, is lost. This original version of the play comprises 4 acts. The manuscript of a revised version of Rosamunde in 5 acts has lately been discovered and published. Axa’s Romanze (Ariette) set by Schubert appears in the beginning of act 3 in the initial version (act 4 in the revised version).