The Book with Seven Seals  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Book with Seven Seals (Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln) is an oratorio in German by the Austrian composer Franz Schmidt, on themes from the biblical Book of Revelation of Saint John. It was completed in 1937 and first presented in 1938 in Vienna.

The Book of Revelation, the final book of the Christian New Testament, contains a prophetic vision of the end of the present world, the Last Judgement, and the coming of the New Jerusalem. The Book with Seven Seals is opened by the enthroned Lamb of God in the presence of the twenty-four elders. The number seven corresponds to the seven spirits of God, and the sevenfold nature of the divine order in the world. As each of the seals is opened in turn, the events and catastrophes leading to the dissolution of the world are set in motion. (Revelation, Chapters IV - VII)

The oratorio takes the entire sacred narrative of the Book of Revelation as its subject, using selected texts. Through the narrator (tenor), the celestial symbology is introduced as visionary material, while the solo voices, ensembles and choruses enact scenes and responses to events as they unfold. The score employs full orchestral resources including important passages for Grand Organ alone.

The presentation of the ultimate catastrophe and consummation of the divine process in world history stretches the conventional boundaries of devotional or narrative subject-matter in oratorio, in a way that reflects the extreme preoccupations of its time and yet remains obedient to the formulations of the genre.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Book with Seven Seals" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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