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Ode to Joy

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The ode "To Joy" (Ode »An die Freude« in German) is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet and historian Friedrich Schiller, and known especially for its musical setting by Beethoven in the fourth and final movement of his Ninth Symphony, for four solo voices, chorus, and orchestra. In this symphonic version it is often referred to popularly as the "Ode to Joy".

The Ode to Joy was adopted as Europe's anthem by the Council of Europe in 1972, with an official arrangement for orchestra written by Herbert von Karajan.

In 2003, the European Union chose Beethoven's music for the poem as the EU anthem, without German lyrics, because of the many different languages used within the European Union. Therefore, the EU anthem is in effect the Beethoven theme (or melody) rather than Schiller's poem, although its connection with the ideal of human brotherhood in the text is understood. This ideal is stated in much more universal terms in Beethoven's adaptation ("All human beings become brothers") than in Schiller's original, which states that "beggars become the brothers of princes."

Beethoven's theme is also the setting for the Christian hymn, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (or Hymn to Joy), a poem written in 1908 by Henry van Dyke (1852-1933).

Less famous musical settings of the poem were written by Franz Schubert (for voice and piano, 1815) and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (for solo singers, choir and orchestra in a Russian translation, 1865).


The following is the libretto of the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, his adaptation of Schiller's ode to Joy. Beethoven's additions and revisions are indicated in italics.

In German
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen und freudenvollere.
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
(Schillers Originalfassung:
Was der Mode Schwert geteilt;
Bettler werden Fürstenbrüder,)
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, all Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
und der Cherub steht vor Gott.
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.
In English
O friends, no more of such sounds!
Let us rather intone more pleasant and joyful ones
Joy, beautiful spark of God,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, fire-drunk,
Heavenly, your shrine.
Your magic reunites
That which custom has strongly split;
All humans will become brothers
(Schiller's original:
What custom's sword has parted;
Beggars become princes' brothers)
Where your soft wing whiles.
Whoever has succeeded in the great attempt
To be a friend of a friend;
Whoever has achieved a lovely wife
Mix in your joy!
Yes, also whoever only one soul
Calls his own around the world!
And whoever has never known of this,
Steal away crying out of this group!
All beings drink joy
At the breasts of nature;
All the good, all the bad
Follow her trail of roses.
She gave us kisses and vines,
A friend, proven in death;
Great pleasure was given to the worm,
And the cherub stands before God.
Glad, like his sun flies
Through heaven's splendid plan,
Run, brothers, your race,
Joyful, like a hero to the victory.
Be embraced, millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, over the starry firmament
Must live a loving father.
Do you bow down, millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him beyond the starry firmament!
He must dwell beyond the stars.


Last updated: 10-18-2005 16:22:56
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