Wednesday, November 9, 2011

English and German Lullabies

Ever wondered to yourself: what's the difference between English/American and German lullabies? Yeah, me either. Well, until recently when little PJ arrived on the scene. Turns out that the vast majority of the melodies are the same. The sentiments, however, are not.

Lets take, for example, the lullaby set to Johannes Brahms wonderful melody. You can hear just the melody here on youtube.

The German version is:
Guten Abend, gut' Nacht
Mit Rosen bedacht
Mit Näglein besteckt
Schlüpf unter die Deck'
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will
Wirst du wieder geweckt
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will
Wirst du wieder geweckt

Guten Abend, gut' Nacht
Von Englein bewacht
Die zeigen im Traum
Dir Christkindleins Baum
Schlaf nun selig und süß
Schau im Traum 's Paradies
Schlaf nun selig und süß
Schau im Traum 's Paradies

Guten Abend, gut' Nacht
Mit Rosen bedacht
Mit Näglein besteckt
Schlüpf unter die Deck'
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will
Wirst du wieder geweckt
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will
Wirst du wieder geweckt

For those that don't read German - you can hear a translation of the actual German into English by the lovely Dean Martin (also from Ohio, by the way) also on youtube. If you're not into hearing the entire song, no fear! Keep reading.

The English version is:
Lullaby, and good night,
With pink roses bedight,
With lilies o'erspread,
Is my baby's sweet head.
Lay you down now, and rest,
May your slumber be blessed!
Lay you down now, and rest,
May thy slumber be blessed!

Lullaby, and good night,
You're your mother's delight,
Shining angels beside
My darling abide.
Soft and warm is your bed,
Close your eyes and rest your head.
Soft and warm is your bed,
Close your eyes and rest your head.

Sleepyhead, close your eyes.
Mother's right here beside you.
I'll protect you from harm,
You will wake in my arms.
Guardian angels are near,
So sleep on, with no fear.

But lets take a closer look, shall we? Do some comparative analysis (and for my English professor friends here, cut me some slack, I haven't written a paper in about 10 years and this is my tongue-in-cheek blog).

The first verse ends in German with (translation here):
"tomorrow morning, and if God will,
you'll wake up again"

The first verse ends in English with:
"Lay you down now, and rest,
May thy slumber be blessed!"

So the German version is something like (watch out: emotional translation!): Okay, little baby, its time to go to sleep and if you are really lucky and God likes you and everything maybe you'll also wake up.

I don't know about you guys, but I don't think those lyrics would really help me feel safe, secure, and lead me to sleeping peacefully. Sure the song sounds nice but I'm imagining a final prayer along the lines of: "Um, God, please, pretty please let me wake up tomorrow." Then a private, "oh, shit, I really hope she didn't see me leak poop; pull mommy's hair; poke my little brother; stick out my tongue; and so on." And finally a desparate promise, "God, if you let me wake up tomorrow I prooooomise I won't .... "

Hello, insecurity!

Whereas the English version is more like: Okay, little baby, its time to go to sleep and recharge your batteries because you and your sleep are so special and under God's watchful eye.

Yeah, those lyrics give me a warm, fuzzy, lets-go-to-sleep feeling. A little huggy, huggy feeling. A stretch-and-smile kinda feeling at the end of a day.

Hello, self-confidence!

The Mr's response to this? A very loving: "You and your American, politically correct crap."

Pause, cue goofy grin and then a sly: "Babies have to toughen up."*

Ahhhh, the differences start way early and last forever.



xo

*The Mr. claims he never said the second statement. He so did and it was hilarious.


4 comments:

Torsten said...

I'm with Dom in this case :)

Alternative Suggestion: Play Metallica and/or System of a Down to "toughen him up" ;o)

Teresa said...

I don't think that little Boo can be scared into believing that crap. He is a smart kid. He KNOWS he is going to get away with it all =]

german translation service said...

This post is way good. I love the German language and have often enjoyed the special way words are combined..

Johanna said...

My mom also thought the German "Morgen Frueh/Wenn Gott will" was a bit dire. She substituted "Morgen frueh/Kleine(r) *Enter Baby's Name*". I use this version with my own kids, and like it better than the English, as it's more personal.

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