Motif 34: Atonement (Expiation)
German name: Die erste Entsühnungsmelodie
The Atonement motif is important in the first part of act III. It is intimately connected with several other motives, such as Waking (#23). It derives from the inversion of the Love's Sorrow motif (#28). The entire group might be regarded as one complex.
Hans von Wolzogen called it, "the first melody of Expiation" (Entsühnung). Albert Lavignac called it simply "Expiation". It is first heard played by the horns in answer to Gurnemanz's words,
heiligste Morgen heut'.
Lorenz notes that a falling diatonic second is prominent in this motif; and that the same could also be said of Nature's Healing. Lavignac draws particular attention to the form in
which Atonement appears at
doch wohl — wie Gott mit himmlischer Geduld. Not only the violin and 'cello melody but also the harmony is taken directly from the
second phrase of the Pilgrims' Chorus in Tannhäuser.