"O du, mein holder Abendstern" Lyrics and Text Translation

Wolfram's Aria from Wagner's Tannhäuser

"O du mein holder Abendstern" is one of the most well-known baritone arias ever written. It may not be as flashy as the "Queen of the Night" aria or even "Nessun Dorma", but Wagner's aria for Wolfram from the opera, Tannhäuser, is a favorite of opera buffs and newbies alike. 

Plot of 'Tannhauser'

Reunited with his true love Elisabeth after spending a year with Venus, the goddess of love, Tannhauser seeks absolution and a return to his earthly life.

 

The story takes pieces of several German myths for its plot: a singing contest known as the Sangerkrieg, the role of Venus and her underground grotto, and the story of a 13th-century poet named Tannhauser. It's one of Wagner's most controversial operas.  

Wolfram Sings 'O du Mein Holder Abendstern'

The title of this aria translates to "oh, my gracious evening star."  Wolfram is in love with Elizabeth, but so is Tannhauser. One evening, Wolfram has a premonition of Elizabeth's death and prays to the evening star to guide her to heaven. 

German Text of 'O du Mein Holder Abendstern'

Wie Todesahnung Dämm rung deckt die Lande,
umhüllt das Tal mit schwärzlichem Gewande;
der Seele, die nach jenen Höhn verlangt,
vor ihrem Flug durch Nacht und Grausen bangt.
Da scheinest du, o lieblichster der Sterne,
dein Sanftes Licht entsendest du der Ferne;
die nächt'ge Dämm rung teilt dein lieber Strahl,
und freundlich zeigst du den Weg aus dem Tal.

O du, mein holder Abendstern,
wohl grüsst' ich immer dich so gern:
vom Herzen, das sie nie verriet,
grüsse sie, wenn sie vorbei dir zieht,
wenn sie entschwebt dem Tal der Erden,
ein sel'ger Engel dort zu werden!

English Translation
Like a premonition of death, darkness covers the land,
and envelops the valley in its sombre shroud;
the soul that longs for the highest grounds,
is fearful of the darkness before it takes flight.


There you are, oh loveliest star,
your soft light you send into the distance;
your beam pierces the gloomy shroud
and you show the way out of the valley.

Oh, my gracious evening star,
I always greet you like happily:
with my heart that she never betrayed
take to her as she drifts past you,
when she soars from this earthly vale,
to transform into blessed angel!