Franz Joseph Haydn (Austrian, 1732-1809): The Creation, Bass recitative "And God said..."
As you might know, "oratorio" is similar to opera, but unstaged. Oratorios were originally created to be performed during Lent, when the spectacle of opera was considered inappropriate, and they often have religious subjects, such as this one about the biblical creation story. Haydn was inspired to write oratorios after visiting London and hearing performances of Handel's "Messiah" and "Israel in Egypt." There's a complicated story behind the libretto, but the upshot is that Haydn ended up writing an English version and a German version more or less simultaneously.
This selection incorporates two musical devices: "recitative" and "word painting." "Recitative" is when a singer "recites," or speaks, text, rather than singing it more traditionally. The rhythm is free and not counted as strictly as other music. "Recitative" can be accompanied by one instrument such as a keyboard or a plucked instrument, or by the whole orchestra. The accompaniment is usually just short interjections between the singer's lines.
"Word painting" is pretty much what it sounds like--when the music "paints" the text it is describing. In this case it is a little confusing because the text usually comes after the music that describes it. So I'll go through it in a little detail:
Accompanied by piano:
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind; cattle and creeping thing, and beasts of the earth after their kind.
Strait opening her fertile womb, the earth obey'd the word, and teem'd creatures numberless, in perfect forms and fully grown.
Orchestra roars like a lion
Cheerful roaring stands the tawny lion.
In sudden leaps the flexible tyger appears.
Orchestra plays dance-like music
The nimble stag bears up his branching head.
Dance music continues, but heavier
With flying mane and fiery look, impatient neighs the sprightly steed.
Innocent pastoral music
The cattle in herds already seeks his food on fields and meadows green.
Bassoon starts playing
And o'er the ground, as plants, are spread the fleecy meek and bleating flock.
Buzzing sound in orchestra
Unnumbered as the sands in swarms arose the host of insects.
Low, slithering music (this is the best part! He sings sooo low!)
In long dimensions creeps with sinuous trace the worm.