♪ Baroque-n-Chords ♪ (telemann) wrote in linguaphiles,
♪ Baroque-n-Chords ♪
telemann
linguaphiles

German = "Gelber Tod"

Good Day:

I know there are quite a few specialists here, so I'll go ahead and ask for some help. A friend of mine is doing transcriptions of the baroque composer Christoph Graupner cantata texts (mostly by Johann Konrad Lichtenberg (I believe he was the court pastor at Darmstadt), and ran into a cantata with the chorale "Komm Sterblicher, betrachte mich."

This chorale is rather morose, even by the German baroque standards:

du lebst, ich lebt auf Erden.
Was du jetzt bist, das war auch ich,
was ich bin, wirst du werden.
Du musst hernach, ich bin vorhin;
ach! denke nicht in deinem Sinn,
dass du nicht dürfest sterben.

2. Bereite dich, stirb ab der Welt,
denk auf die letzten Stunden;
wenn man den Tod verächtlich hält,
wird er sehr oft gefunden.
Es ist die Reihe heut an mir,
wer weiß, vielleicht gilt s morgen dir,
ja wohl noch diesen Abend.

In the 6. verse the death speaks of the "gelbe Tod":

6. Sprich nicht: ich bin frisch und gesund,
mir schmeckt auch noch das Essen.
Ach! es wird wohl jetzt diese Stund
dein Sarg dir abgemessen.
Es schneidet dir der gelbe Tod
ja täglich in die Hand das Brot.
Bereite dich zum Sterben!

Translated:
"Don't say: I'm fresh and sane,
and I enjoy the meal.
Ouh, during this hour
your coffin will be measured (for your figure).
The yellow death cuts
daily the bread into your hand.
Be prepared to die!"


*Shudder* EW EW EW!!!


Anyway, does anyone on the list have a detailed understanding of what "Gelber Tod" would mean? The friend who is doing the German transcriptions is a native German speaker, and excels at reading 18th century handwriting, but this rather arcane expression has eluded him. Any leads or ideas would be GREATLY appreciated.

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