Hinüber wall’ ich (I Pilgrimage Over There, 1897) was the first song Diepenbrock wrote on a text by Novalis. The poem is from the collection Hymnen an die Nacht (Hymns to the Night). In the following years Diepenbrock was to set several other texts from this collection to music. The composer was already acquainted with the work by Novalis, a pseudonym for Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801), for a long time and he greatly admired the poet and philosopher who had died at an early age. In 1893 Diepenbrock wrote to the poet Frederik van Eeden:
I think Novalis was the wisest of them all. (BD I:437) Elsewhere Diepenbrock called Novalis
a true mystic (BD I:371) and the text of Hinüber wall’ ich, which is permeated with a desire for death, corresponds with that designation.
Hinüber wall’ ich was composed for the singer Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius, who premiered the song in the spring of 1898 alongside six other songs by Diepenbrock. In December of that same year the concert was repeated with the addition of his new song Clair de lune (Moonshine, RC 43).
In Diepenbrock’s setting the broad melodic lines in the voice contrast with the dense texture of the accompaniment. Diepenbrock highlights eight lines of the second part of the hymn – from “O! Sauge, Geliebter” (O suckle me, my beloved) to “Verwandelt mein Blut” (Transform my blood) – by repeating them. The first time this passage should sound restrained (p, sehr innig), the repeat starts ecstatically (f, mit höchster Begeisterung) and ends quietly (pp, ritard, mit verklärten Ausdruck). The series of modulations also reflects the emotional meaning of the text. After the repeat of “Verwandelt mein Blut”, Diepenbrock returns to the main key of g minor. A short interlude is followed by the last four lines, full of resignation (sempre molto sostenuto), after which the song finishes in G major.
In December 1898 there was even more coverage by the press than after the premiere. Several critics were positive after this second hearing of the songs. In the music periodical Weekblad voor Muziek one of them wrote:
These songs are characterised by their distinguished style and refined arrangements and they bear witness to an extraordinary creative talent. Especially the independence with which this composer manages to express himself and the beautiful execution of the accompaniments, which are mostly polyphonic, stand out. (BD III:539)