The Eternal Road
The Road of Promise
(Der Weg der Verheissung)

Biblical Drama in four parts by Franz Werfel.
English text and lyrics by Ludwig Lewisohn in three acts.

Sam Jaffe as the Adversary, from the original production.

A massive spectacle, The Eternal Road is nothing less than the story of the Jews as set forth in the Old Testament. Beginning in a synagogue, where a group of Jews has gathered to escape persecution, the Rabbi begins reading from the Torah, portions of which motivate the succeeding scenes:
the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses, Ruth, Saul and David, and Jeremiah, among others.
The action moves back and forth from biblical re-enactments to the synagogue. Eventually the group is driven out of the synagogue by soldiers, but their sorrow is turned to joy by a vision of the Messiah.

Act I: "The Patriarchs"
Scene 6: Abraham and Isaac
Scene 7: Jacob and the Angel
Scene 8: Jacob and Rachel
Scene 16: The death of Jacob
Act II: "Moses"
Scene 17: In Egypt / Miriam and Moses
Scene 20: Moses receives the Commandments / Dance around the golden calf
Scene 21: The Beam, Moses
Scene 22: Moses addresses the people
Scene 23: Moses gives the Commandments / The death of Moses
Act III: "The King"
Scene 24: Naomi and Ruth
Scene 24: (cont.) Ruth and Boaz
Act IV: "The Prophets"
Scene 32: Isaiah and Jeremiah
Scene 33: The streets of Jerusalem
Scene 34: Jeremiah
Scenes 35 & 36: Chananiah the false prophet / The mob attacks Jeremiah
Scene 40: Transformation / Finale

Original German title: Der Weg der Verheissung (The Road of Promise)
Singing roles: Rabbi (tenor), Eliezer (baritone), White Angel (tenor), 2 Dark Angels (tenor, baritone) , Abraham (baritone), Sarah, Isaac, Jacob (tenor), Rachel (soprano), Joseph (baritone), His Brothers, Moses (baritone),
Miriam (soprano), Voice of God (baritone), Angel of Death (bass), Ruth (mezzo-soprano), Boaz (baritone), Reaper (baritone), Saul (baritone), David (tenor), Solomon (baritone), Chananjah (baritone), Jeremiah (high baritone),
Voice of the Angel of the End of Days; double chorus, SATB.
Speaking roles: Pious Men, President, Elders, Women, and Boys of the Congregation, The Estranged One and his son, The Adversary, The Timid Soul, The Rich Man, The Watchman, The Youth, The Strange Girl, The Witch of Endor, Bath-Sheba, Uriah, Zedekiah, Pashur.
Orchestra: 2.1.5 (2 bass cl).1;; 2 pianos, harp, organ, guitar, timp, perc; strings.
Duration: full evening


  1. The Covenant (Abraham, The Voice)
  2. Sacrifice of Isaac (The Voice, Abraham)
  3. Jacob and Rachel (The Voice, Jacob, Rachel)
  4. Joseph and His Brothers (Joseph's Brothers, Two Angels, Jacob, Joseph)
  5. Moses in Egypt (Miriam, Moses)
  6. At the Mountain (Idol Worshipper)
  7. In the Wilderness (Moses)
  8. The Promised Land (Moses, The Voice, Two Angels, Soul of Moses)
  9. Ruth the Moabite (Naomi, Ruth, Boaz)
10. King David (David, Dark Angel)
11. The Building of the Temple (David, Ruth, Solomon)
12. Two Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Idol Merchant)
13. Zedekiah's Decision (False Prophet, Jeremiah, Rachel)
14. A Vision (The Voice)


Actors and singers for “The Road to Promise”, arrive in New York, Oct. 15 1935 - nd
Lt to Rt: Francesco von Mendelson, Eleanor von Mendelson, Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, and Meyer Weisgall


The Eternal Road (Extraits, en anglais)
Ted Christopher, baritone / Ian DeNolfo, tenor / Karl Dent, tenor / Constance Hauman, soprano /
James Maddalena, baritone / Barbara Rearick, mezzo-soprano / Vale Rideout, tenor / Hanna Wollschlager, mezzo-soprano
Ernst Senff Chor / Rundfunk-Kinderchor Berlin / Sigurd Brauns, choirmaster / Manfred Roost, choirmaster
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Gerard Schwarz, conductor
Ambiente Orgelmusik aus Dessau
Stefan Nusser
Schuke-Orgel Propsteikirche St. Peter und Paul in Dessau
Preiser Records
Anita Ammersfeld (soprano) sings Kurt Weill
Song of Ruth
July 29, 2003
Navona Records
NV6059 (2 CDs)
The Road of Promise
Anthony Dean Griffey, Mark Delavan, Ron Rifkin, Philip Cutlip, Lauren Michelle, Justin Hopkins, and Megan Marino
MasterVoices choral ensemble
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Ted Sperling
Recorded live during the US premiere at Carnegie Hall in May 2015
  • January 4, 1937, New York, Manhattan Opera House, Max Reinhardt, dir., Isaac van Grove, cond.
  • June 13, 1999, John Mauceri, cond. (In German with French Subtitles), Theater Chemnitz, Michael Heinicke, Schmidt, T. Adam, Bednarski (Arte Video)



A twentieth-century Bible play.
Devised by David Drew from Act IV of Der Weg der Verheissung (The Eternal Road).
Text (in German) by Franz Werfel and from Holy Scriptures.
Supplementary orchestration

 by Noam Sheriff.

English title: Prophets
Solo roles: Rabbi (tenor), Jeremiah/Stimme des Prophets (baritone), Isaiah/Weisse Engel 1/Engel der Endzeit (tenor), Chananjah (baritone).
Singing roles from the chorus: Der Widersprecher (baritone), ein Knabe (boy soprano), eine Frau (mezzo), Weisse Engel 2 (soprano), Dunkle Engel (baritone), Rahel (soprano); large choir, divisible into two parts, with optional children's choir.
Speaking roles: Der Dreizehnjährige, der Entfremdete, Zedekiah, Pashur, Ebed Melech, der Wächter, der Bote des Königs.
Orchestra: 2 (picc.).1.2 (E-flat).1;; timp, perc; 2 pianos, organ, harp; strings.
Duration: ca. 45 min.
First performance: May 28, 1998, Vienna, Österreichische Rundfunkorchester, Dennis Russell Davies, cond.


Albert Dohmen (baryton, soliste), Kurt Azesberger (soliste), Michael Papst (soliste), Ursula Fiedler (soliste), Anselm Lipgens (soliste), Gottfried Hornik (soliste), Bernd Fröhlich (soliste), Georg Tsulufis (soliste),
Wiener Jeunesse-Chor, Wiener Motettenchor, Gumpoldskirchner Spatzen
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra / Dennis Russell Davies
Enregstrement 1998 / 2001
Date de sortie : 2nd Juin 2023


Four choruses from The Eternal Road(1987)
For soprano, tenor, baritone soloists and SATB chorus,
with two-piano accompaniment arranged by Lys Symonette.
German texts by Franz Werfel; translated into English by Ludwig Lewisohn.

Song list

  • 1) God First Created the Earth and Heavens
  • 2) Miriam's Song
  • 3) Dance of the Golden Calf
  • 4) Solomon's Hymn of Praise
Performance Information
Duration: 18 minutes
First performance: September 20, 1987, New York, Kurt Weill Festival, Beverly Hoch, David Ronis, Paul Rowe (vocalists)