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An Oratorio for Washington

The libretto was published in the Columbian Magazine  (April, 1787) for The Temple of Minerva (subtitled America Independent) by Francis Hopkinson , designated as an Oratorio, and Oratorical or Musical Entertainment, performed by a Company of Gentlemen  and Ladies in the presence of his Excellency General Washington and his Lady  and his Excellency the Minister of France, on December 11, 1781, at the Hotel of the Minister of France, in Philadelphia. In these years the young republic (Columbia) was making every effort to strengthen the ties between America and France. See Francis Hopkinson, The First American Poet-Composer (1737–1791) and James Lyon, Patriot, Preacher, Psalmodist  (1735–1794). New York: Da Capo Press, 1967 [1905], pp. 106–111.

Persons: Minerva, the Genius of France. The Genius of America. The High Priest of Minerva.

Scene I. In the temple of Minerva. The doors of the Sanctuary shut.


 (The Genius of France, the Genius of America and the High Priest of Minerva.)


Arise! Arise! your voices raise,
And swell the solemn hymn of praise;
At great Minerva’s awful shrine
Bow down, and own the pow’r divine.

Genius of America

Oh, wise Minerva! Hear my pray’r,
And tell great Jove’s decree:
Celestial Goddess! Now declare
What fate has fixed for me.

My warlike sons-the sons of fame
In deeds of virtue bold,
Amongst the nations nobly claim
An honor’d place to hold.

Say, will wise Jove, their labours crown,
And grant their arms success;
From this exalted throne look down,
And my orisons bless?

Genius of France

Wise Minerva! Grant her pray’r,
Make her valiant sons thy care;
To th’ immortal breath of  fame,
Give, oh give, her honor’d name.

O’er her councils still preside,
In the field her armies guide:
Thus directed, she shall be
Great and glorious, wise and free.


Great Minerva! Hear our pray’r
What the fates ordain, declare.
Thus before thy throne we bow-
Hear, oh Goddess, hear us now!

Humble off’rings thus we bring,
With united voices sing;
Let our favor’d songs ascend-
Thou hast e’er been Virtue’s friend.

High Priest

With solemn rites approach the shrine,
   And humble homage pay;
Fit off’rings to the pow’r divine,
   Upon her altar lay.

From the censer clouds ascending,
Hearts and voices sweetly blending,
Shall to Minerva greatly prove,
And call down blessings from above.


From those radiant blest abodes,
Where thou sitt’st enthron’d with Gods, Oh! descend, thy temple grace, With thy glories fill the place.

Hear, oh goddess! Hear our pray’r, Make Columbia’s cause thy care;
Blest and patroniz’d by thee
Great and pow’rful shall she be.

Scene II. The doors of the Sanctuary are open.

High Priest

Adore the great daughter of Jove !    Behold, how resplendent with light,
On a cloud, she descends from above,
   All glories reveal’d to the sight.
Your songs have her favour obtain’d,
   She comes to reply to your pray’r,
And now, what the fates have ordain’d.


In the golden balance weigh’d,
   Have I seen Columbia’s  fate.
All her griefs shall be repaid
   By a future happy state.
She with France in friendship join’d,
   Shall opposing pow’rs defy;
Thus united, thus combin’d,
   Heav’n will bless the sacred tie.

Freedom on her happy shore
   Shall her banners wide display;
Commerce shall her richest store
   Through her numerous tides convey.
Jove declares his high command,
   Fate confirms the great decree:
If our sons united stand
   Great and prosp’rous shall she be.

She, like the glorious sun,
Her splendid course shall run,
And future days
Columbia’s praise
Shall spread from east to west.

The gods decree
That she shall be
A nation great confest.

Genius of America

Let earth’s inhabitants Heavn’s pleasure know,
And fame her loud uplifted trumpet blow;
Let the celestial nine, in tuneful choirs
Touch their immortal harps with golden wires.


Great Minerva, pow’r divine,
Praise, exalted praise be thine;
Thus thy name in songs we bless,
Thus in songs thy pow’r confess.
   Great Minerva, pow’r divine
     Praise, exalted praise be thine.

From the friendly shores of France,
See the martial troops advance.
With Columbia&rsquo:s sons unite,
And share the dangers of the fight.
   Equal heroes of the day,
   Equal honors to them pay.

Now the dreadful conflict’s o’er,
Now the cannons cease to roar,
Spread the joyful tidings round.
He comes, he comes, with conquest crown’d.
   Hail, Columbia’s god-like son!
   Hail, the glorious Washington!

Fill the golden trump of fame,
Through the world his work proclaim;
He comes, he comes, with conquest crown’d.
   Hail, Columbia’s god-like son!
   Hail, the glorious Washington!

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