21. It is the custom

From Belshazzar, HWV 61, Act I

George Frideric Handel
g minor → c minor

English text


It is the custom, I may say, the law,
By long prescription fix’d.
(looking round and spying the Jews)
These captive Jews!
What do they here? They low’r upon our joys,
And envy liberty they cannot taste.
Yet something your perverse and wayward nation
Shall to our mirth contribute. Bring those vessels,
Those costly vessels my victorious grandsire
Took from the Temple of Jerusalem,
And in the temple of Bel laid up,
But us’d them not: — ‘tis fit they should be us’d.
And let their God, whose pow’r was found too weak
To save his people, serve the conquerors
Of him and them. We’ll revel in his cups:
Their rich materials and choice workmanship
Shall well augment the splendor of our feast.
And as we drink, we’ll praise our country gods,
To whom we owe the prize.


Oh, sacrilege, Unheard of profanation!

About the text

  • Author: Charles Jennens


  • Belshazzar (Tenore)
  • Nitocris (Soprano)
  • Continuo


Similar instrumentation

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