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ACT ONE

1. Overture

Scene 1
Before the Prison in Gaza. Samson, blind and in chains.
Chorus of the Priests of Dagon, celebrating his festival.

2. Recitative

Samson
This day, a solemn feast to Dagon held,
Relieves me from my task of servile toil;
Unwillingly their superstition yields
This rest, to breathe heav'n's air, fresh blowing,
Pure and sweet.

3a. Chorus of Philistines
Awake the trumpet's lofty sound!
The joyful sacred festival comes round,
When Dagon king of all the earth is crown'd.

4. Air

Philistine Woman
Ye men of Gaza, hither bring
The merry pipe and pleasing string,
The solemn hymn, and cheerfuI song;
Be Dagon prais'd by ev'ry tongue!

3b. Chorus of Philistines
Awake the trumpet's lofty sound!
The joyful sacred festival comes round,
When Dagon king of all the earth is crown'd.

5. Air

Philistine
Loud as the thunder's awful voice,
In notes of triumph, notes of praise,
So high great Dagon's name we'll raise:
That heav'n and earth may hear how we rejoice!

6. Air

Philistine Woman
Then free from sorrow, free from thrall,
All blithe and gay,
With sports and play,
We'll celebrate his festival.

3c. Chorus of Philistines
Awake the trumpet's lofty sound!
The joyful sacred festival comes round,
When Dagon king of all the earth is crown'd.

7. Recitative

Samson
Why by an angel was my birth foretold,
As in a fiery column ascending
From off the altar, in my parents' sight?
As of a person separate to God?
If I must die, betray'd and captiv'd thus,
The scorn and gaze of foes? Oh, cruel thought!
My griefs find no redress! They inward prey,
Like gangren'd wounds, immedicable grown.

8. Air

Samson
Torments, alas, are not confin'd
To heart, or head, or breast!
But will a secret passage find
Into the very inmost mind,
With pains intense opprest,
That rob the soul itself of rest.

Scene 2
Enter Micah and Israelites, observing Samson.

9. Recitative

Micah
(apart)
Oh, change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See, how he lies with languish'd head, unpropt,
Abandon'd, past all hope! Can this be he,
Heroic Samson, whom no strength of man,
Nor fury of the fiercest beast could quell?
Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid,
Ran weaponless on armies clad in iron,
Useless the temper'd steel, or coat of mail.

10. Air

Micah
Oh, mirror of our fickle state!
In birth, in strength, in deeds how great!
From highest glory fall'n so low,
Sunk in the deep abyss of woe!

11. Recitative

Samson
(apart)
Whom have I to complain of but myself,
Who Heav'n's great trust could not in silence keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it!
Oh, glorious strength! Oh, impotence of mind!
But without wisdom, what does strength avail?
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall?
God (when he gave it) hung it in my hair,
To show how slight the gift. - But, peace, my soul!
Strength was my bane, the source of all my woes,
Each told apart would ask a life to wail.

Micah
(to Samson)
Matchless in might! once Israel 's glory, now her grief!
Welcome, thy friends well known, to visit thee!

Samson
Welcome, my friends! Experience teaches now,
How counterfeit the coin of friendship is,
That's only in the superscription shown.
In the warm sunshine of our prosp'rous days,
Friends swarm; but in the winter of adversity,
Draw in their heads; though sought, not to be found.

Micah
Which shall we first bewail,
Thy bondage, or lost sight?

Samson
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Oh, worse than beggary, old age, or chains!
My very soul in real darkness dwells!

12. Air

Samson
Total eclipse! No sun, no moon!
All dark amidst the blaze of noon!
Oh, glorious light! No cheering ray
To glad my eyes with welcome day!
Why thus depriv'd Thy prime decree?
Sun, moon, and stars are dark to me!

13. Accompagnato

Micah
Since light so necessary is to life
That in the soul 'tis almost life itself,
Why to the tender eyes is sight confin'd,
So obvious and so easy to be quench'd;
Why not as feelings through all parts diffus'd,
That we might look at will through every pore?

14. Chorus of Israelites
O first created beam! And thou great word!
"Let there be light!" - And light was over all,
One heav'nly blaze shone round this earthly ball.
To thy dark servant, life, by light afford!

15. Recitative

Samson
Ye see, my friends, how woes enclose me round.
But had I sight, how could I heave my head
For shame? Thus, for a word, or tear, divulge
To a false woman God's most secret gift,
And then be sung, or proverb'd for a fool!

Micah
The wisest men have err'd, and been deceiv'd
By female arts. Deject not then thyself,
Who hast of griefs a load: yet men will ask,
Why did not Samson rather wed at home?
In his own tribe are fairer, or as fair.

Samson
Oh that I had! Alas, fond wish, too late!
That specious monster, Dalila, my snare!
Myself the cause, who vanquish'd by her tears,
Gave up my fort of silence to a woman.

Micah
Here comes thy rev'rend sire, old Manoah,
With careful steps, and locks as white as down.

Samson
Alas! Another grief that name awakes.

Scene 3
Enter Manoah.

Manoah
Brethren and men of Dan, say, where is my son,
Samson, fond Israel's boast? Inform my age!

Micah
As signal now in low dejected state,
As in the height of pow'r. - See, where he lies!

16. Accompagnato

Manoah
Oh, miserable change! Is this the man,
Renown'd afar, the dread of IsraeI's foes?
Who with an angeI's strength their armies duell'd,
Himself an army! - Now unequal match
To guard his breast against the coward's spear!

17. Recitative

Israelitish Man
Oh, ever failing trust in mortal strength!
And oh, what not deceivable and vain in man!

18. Air

Israelitish Man
God of our fathers, what is man?
So proud, so vain, so great in story!
His fame a blast, his life a span,
A bubble at the height of glory!
Oft he that is exalted high,
Unseemly falls in human eye.

19. Accompagnato

Manoah
The good we wish for, often proves our bane.
I pray'd for children, and I gain'd a son,
And such a son, as all men hail'd me happy.
But who'd be now a father in my stead?
The blessing drew a scorpion's tail behind;
This plant (select and sacred for awhile,
The miracle of all!) was in one hour
Ensnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
His foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind!

20. Air

Manoah
Thy glorious deeds inspir'd my tongue,
Whilst airs of joy from thence did flow.
To sorrows now I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of woe.

21. Recitative

Samson
Justly these evils have befalI'n thy son;
Sole author I, sole cause, who have profan'd
The mysteries of God; by me betray'd
To faithless parlies, feminine assaults!
To the false fair I yielded all my heart;
So far effeminacy held me yok'd
Her slave. Oh, foul indignity, oh blot
To honour and to arms!

Manoah
Worse yet remains.
This day they celebrate with pomps and sports,
And sacrifice to Dagon, idol God,
Who gave thee bound and blind into their hands;
Thus is he magnified, the living God
Blasphem'd and scorn'd by that idolatrous rout.

Samson
This have I done, this pomp, this honour brought
To idol Dagon; but to Israel shame,
And our true God disgrace.

22. Accompagnato

Samson
My griefs for this
Forbid mine eyes to close, or thoughts to rest.
But now the strife shall end: me overthrown,
Dagon presumes to enter lists with God,
Who, thus provok'd, will not convive, but rouse
His fury soon, and his great name assert;
Dagon shall stoop, ere long be quite despoil'd
Of all those boasted trophies won on me.

23. Air

Samson
Why does the God of lsrael sleep?
Arise with dreadful sound,
And clouds encompass'd round!
Then shall the heathen hear thy thunder deep.
The tempest of thy wrath now raise,
In whirlwinds them pursue,
Full fraught with vengeance due,
Till shame and trouble all thy foes shall seize!

24. Recitative

Micah
There lies our hope! True prophet may'st thou be,
That God may vindicate his glorious name;
Nor let us doubt whether God is Lord, or Dagon.

25. Chorus of Israelites
Then shall they know, that He whose name
Jehovah is alone,
O'er all the earth but One,
Was ever the Most High, and still the same.

26. Recitative

Manoah
For thee, my dearest son, must thou meanwhile
Lie, thus neglected, in this loathsome plight?

Samson
It should be so, to expiate my crime,
If possible. Shameful gratuity!
Had I reveal'd the secret of a friend,
Most heinous that! But impiously to blast
God's counsel, is a sin without a name!

Manoah
Be for thy fate contrite: but oh, my son,
To high disposal leave the forfeit due.
God may relent, and quit thee all his debt;
Reject not then the offer'd means of life.
Already have I treated with some lords,
To ransom thee. Revenge is sated now,
To see thee thus who cannot harm them more.

Samson
Why should I live?
Soon shall these orbs to double darkness yield.

27. Accompagnato

Samson
My genial spirits droop, my hopes are fled;
Nature in me seems weary of herself;
My race of glory run, and race of shame:
Death, invocated oft, shall end my pains,
And lay me gently down with them that rest.

28. Recitative (air)

Micah
Then long eternity shall greet your bliss;
No more of earthly joys, so false and vain!

29. Air

Micah
Joys that are pure, sincerely good,
Shall then o'ertake you as a flood:
Where truth and peace do ever shine,
With love that's perfectly divine.

30. Chorus of Israelites
Then round about the starry throne
Of Him who ever rules alone,
Your heav'nly-guided soul shall climb:
Of all this earthly grossness quit,
With glory crown'd, for ever sit,
And triumph over death, and thee, O Time!
ACT ONE

1. Overture

Scene 1
Before the Prison in Gaza. Samson, blind and in chains.
Chorus of the Priests of Dagon, celebrating his festival.

2. Recitative

Samson
This day, a solemn feast to Dagon held,
Relieves me from my task of servile toil;
Unwillingly their superstition yields
This rest, to breathe heav'n's air, fresh blowing,
Pure and sweet.

3a. Chorus of Philistines
Awake the trumpet's lofty sound!
The joyful sacred festival comes round,
When Dagon king of all the earth is crown'd.

4. Air

Philistine Woman
Ye men of Gaza, hither bring
The merry pipe and pleasing string,
The solemn hymn, and cheerfuI song;
Be Dagon prais'd by ev'ry tongue!

3b. Chorus of Philistines
Awake the trumpet's lofty sound!
The joyful sacred festival comes round,
When Dagon king of all the earth is crown'd.

5. Air

Philistine
Loud as the thunder's awful voice,
In notes of triumph, notes of praise,
So high great Dagon's name we'll raise:
That heav'n and earth may hear how we rejoice!

6. Air

Philistine Woman
Then free from sorrow, free from thrall,
All blithe and gay,
With sports and play,
We'll celebrate his festival.

3c. Chorus of Philistines
Awake the trumpet's lofty sound!
The joyful sacred festival comes round,
When Dagon king of all the earth is crown'd.

7. Recitative

Samson
Why by an angel was my birth foretold,
As in a fiery column ascending
From off the altar, in my parents' sight?
As of a person separate to God?
If I must die, betray'd and captiv'd thus,
The scorn and gaze of foes? Oh, cruel thought!
My griefs find no redress! They inward prey,
Like gangren'd wounds, immedicable grown.

8. Air

Samson
Torments, alas, are not confin'd
To heart, or head, or breast!
But will a secret passage find
Into the very inmost mind,
With pains intense opprest,
That rob the soul itself of rest.

Scene 2
Enter Micah and Israelites, observing Samson.

9. Recitative

Micah
(apart)
Oh, change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See, how he lies with languish'd head, unpropt,
Abandon'd, past all hope! Can this be he,
Heroic Samson, whom no strength of man,
Nor fury of the fiercest beast could quell?
Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid,
Ran weaponless on armies clad in iron,
Useless the temper'd steel, or coat of mail.

10. Air

Micah
Oh, mirror of our fickle state!
In birth, in strength, in deeds how great!
From highest glory fall'n so low,
Sunk in the deep abyss of woe!

11. Recitative

Samson
(apart)
Whom have I to complain of but myself,
Who Heav'n's great trust could not in silence keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it!
Oh, glorious strength! Oh, impotence of mind!
But without wisdom, what does strength avail?
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall?
God (when he gave it) hung it in my hair,
To show how slight the gift. - But, peace, my soul!
Strength was my bane, the source of all my woes,
Each told apart would ask a life to wail.

Micah
(to Samson)
Matchless in might! once Israel 's glory, now her grief!
Welcome, thy friends well known, to visit thee!

Samson
Welcome, my friends! Experience teaches now,
How counterfeit the coin of friendship is,
That's only in the superscription shown.
In the warm sunshine of our prosp'rous days,
Friends swarm; but in the winter of adversity,
Draw in their heads; though sought, not to be found.

Micah
Which shall we first bewail,
Thy bondage, or lost sight?

Samson
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Oh, worse than beggary, old age, or chains!
My very soul in real darkness dwells!

12. Air

Samson
Total eclipse! No sun, no moon!
All dark amidst the blaze of noon!
Oh, glorious light! No cheering ray
To glad my eyes with welcome day!
Why thus depriv'd Thy prime decree?
Sun, moon, and stars are dark to me!

13. Accompagnato

Micah
Since light so necessary is to life
That in the soul 'tis almost life itself,
Why to the tender eyes is sight confin'd,
So obvious and so easy to be quench'd;
Why not as feelings through all parts diffus'd,
That we might look at will through every pore?

14. Chorus of Israelites
O first created beam! And thou great word!
"Let there be light!" - And light was over all,
One heav'nly blaze shone round this earthly ball.
To thy dark servant, life, by light afford!

15. Recitative

Samson
Ye see, my friends, how woes enclose me round.
But had I sight, how could I heave my head
For shame? Thus, for a word, or tear, divulge
To a false woman God's most secret gift,
And then be sung, or proverb'd for a fool!

Micah
The wisest men have err'd, and been deceiv'd
By female arts. Deject not then thyself,
Who hast of griefs a load: yet men will ask,
Why did not Samson rather wed at home?
In his own tribe are fairer, or as fair.

Samson
Oh that I had! Alas, fond wish, too late!
That specious monster, Dalila, my snare!
Myself the cause, who vanquish'd by her tears,
Gave up my fort of silence to a woman.

Micah
Here comes thy rev'rend sire, old Manoah,
With careful steps, and locks as white as down.

Samson
Alas! Another grief that name awakes.

Scene 3
Enter Manoah.

Manoah
Brethren and men of Dan, say, where is my son,
Samson, fond Israel's boast? Inform my age!

Micah
As signal now in low dejected state,
As in the height of pow'r. - See, where he lies!

16. Accompagnato

Manoah
Oh, miserable change! Is this the man,
Renown'd afar, the dread of IsraeI's foes?
Who with an angeI's strength their armies duell'd,
Himself an army! - Now unequal match
To guard his breast against the coward's spear!

17. Recitative

Israelitish Man
Oh, ever failing trust in mortal strength!
And oh, what not deceivable and vain in man!

18. Air

Israelitish Man
God of our fathers, what is man?
So proud, so vain, so great in story!
His fame a blast, his life a span,
A bubble at the height of glory!
Oft he that is exalted high,
Unseemly falls in human eye.

19. Accompagnato

Manoah
The good we wish for, often proves our bane.
I pray'd for children, and I gain'd a son,
And such a son, as all men hail'd me happy.
But who'd be now a father in my stead?
The blessing drew a scorpion's tail behind;
This plant (select and sacred for awhile,
The miracle of all!) was in one hour
Ensnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
His foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind!

20. Air

Manoah
Thy glorious deeds inspir'd my tongue,
Whilst airs of joy from thence did flow.
To sorrows now I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of woe.

21. Recitative

Samson
Justly these evils have befalI'n thy son;
Sole author I, sole cause, who have profan'd
The mysteries of God; by me betray'd
To faithless parlies, feminine assaults!
To the false fair I yielded all my heart;
So far effeminacy held me yok'd
Her slave. Oh, foul indignity, oh blot
To honour and to arms!

Manoah
Worse yet remains.
This day they celebrate with pomps and sports,
And sacrifice to Dagon, idol God,
Who gave thee bound and blind into their hands;
Thus is he magnified, the living God
Blasphem'd and scorn'd by that idolatrous rout.

Samson
This have I done, this pomp, this honour brought
To idol Dagon; but to Israel shame,
And our true God disgrace.

22. Accompagnato

Samson
My griefs for this
Forbid mine eyes to close, or thoughts to rest.
But now the strife shall end: me overthrown,
Dagon presumes to enter lists with God,
Who, thus provok'd, will not convive, but rouse
His fury soon, and his great name assert;
Dagon shall stoop, ere long be quite despoil'd
Of all those boasted trophies won on me.

23. Air

Samson
Why does the God of lsrael sleep?
Arise with dreadful sound,
And clouds encompass'd round!
Then shall the heathen hear thy thunder deep.
The tempest of thy wrath now raise,
In whirlwinds them pursue,
Full fraught with vengeance due,
Till shame and trouble all thy foes shall seize!

24. Recitative

Micah
There lies our hope! True prophet may'st thou be,
That God may vindicate his glorious name;
Nor let us doubt whether God is Lord, or Dagon.

25. Chorus of Israelites
Then shall they know, that He whose name
Jehovah is alone,
O'er all the earth but One,
Was ever the Most High, and still the same.

26. Recitative

Manoah
For thee, my dearest son, must thou meanwhile
Lie, thus neglected, in this loathsome plight?

Samson
It should be so, to expiate my crime,
If possible. Shameful gratuity!
Had I reveal'd the secret of a friend,
Most heinous that! But impiously to blast
God's counsel, is a sin without a name!

Manoah
Be for thy fate contrite: but oh, my son,
To high disposal leave the forfeit due.
God may relent, and quit thee all his debt;
Reject not then the offer'd means of life.
Already have I treated with some lords,
To ransom thee. Revenge is sated now,
To see thee thus who cannot harm them more.

Samson
Why should I live?
Soon shall these orbs to double darkness yield.

27. Accompagnato

Samson
My genial spirits droop, my hopes are fled;
Nature in me seems weary of herself;
My race of glory run, and race of shame:
Death, invocated oft, shall end my pains,
And lay me gently down with them that rest.

28. Recitative (air)

Micah
Then long eternity shall greet your bliss;
No more of earthly joys, so false and vain!

29. Air

Micah
Joys that are pure, sincerely good,
Shall then o'ertake you as a flood:
Where truth and peace do ever shine,
With love that's perfectly divine.

30. Chorus of Israelites
Then round about the starry throne
Of Him who ever rules alone,
Your heav'nly-guided soul shall climb:
Of all this earthly grossness quit,
With glory crown'd, for ever sit,
And triumph over death, and thee, O Time!



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