Ode to Joy


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchThis article is about Schiller’s poem. For the “Ode to Joy” theme by Beethoven, see Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven). For other uses, see Ode to Joy (disambiguation).

by Friedrich Schiller
Autograph manuscript, circa 1785
Original titleAn die Freude
Publication date1786, 1808

Ode to Joy” (German: “An die Freude” [an diː ˈfʁɔʏdə]) is an ode written in the summer of 1785 by German poet, playwright, and historian Friedrich Schiller and published the following year in Thalia. A slightly revised version appeared in 1808, changing two lines of the first and omitting the last stanza.

“Ode to Joy” is best known for its use by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final (fourth) movement of his Ninth Symphony, completed in 1824. Beethoven’s text is not based entirely on Schiller’s poem, and it introduces a few new sections. His tune[1] (but not Schiller’s words) was adopted as the “Anthem of Europe” by the Council of Europe in 1972 and subsequently by the European UnionRhodesia‘s national anthem from 1974 until 1979, “Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia“, used the tune of “Ode to Joy”.


The poem[edit]

Schillerhaus in Gohlis

Schiller wrote the first version of the poem when he was staying in GohlisLeipzig. In the year 1785 from the beginning of May till mid September, he stayed with his publisher, Georg Joachim Göschen, in Leipzig and wrote “An die Freude” along with his play Don Carlos.[2]

Schiller later made some revisions to the poem, which was then republished posthumously in 1808, and it was this latter version that forms the basis for Beethoven’s setting. Despite the lasting popularity of the ode, Schiller himself regarded it as a failure later in his life, going so far as to call it “detached from reality” and “of value maybe for us two, but not for the world, nor for the art of poetry” in an 1800 letter to his longtime friend and patron Christian Gottfried Körner (whose friendship had originally inspired him to write the ode).[3]


An die Freude

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*
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, alle 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.
Ode to Joy

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity [or: of gods],
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly one, thy sanctuary!
Thy magic binds again
What custom strictly divided;*
All people become brothers,*
Where thy gentle wing abides.

Whoever has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend’s friend,
Whoever has won a lovely woman,
Add his to the jubilation!
Yes, and also whoever has just one soul
To call his own in this world!
And he who never managed it should slink
Weeping from this union!

All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breasts.
All the Just, all the Evil
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us and grapevines,
A friend, proven in death.
Salaciousness was given to the worm
And the cherub stands before God.

Gladly, as His suns fly
through the heavens’ grand plan
Go on, brothers, your way,
Joyful, like a hero to victory.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Are you collapsing, millions?
Do you sense the creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy!
Above stars must He dwell.


The lines marked with * have been revised as follows:

OriginalRevisedTranslation of originalTranslation of revisionComment
was der Mode Schwerd geteiltWas die Mode streng geteiltwhat the sword of custom dividedWhat custom strictly dividedThe original meaning of Mode was “custom, contemporary taste”.[4]
Bettler werden FürstenbrüderAlle Menschen werden Brüderbeggars become brothers of princesAll people become brothers

Ode to freedom[edit]

Academic speculation remains as to whether Schiller originally wrote an “Ode to Freedom” (Ode an die Freiheit) and changed it to an “Ode to Joy”.[5][6] Thayer wrote in his biography of Beethoven, “the thought lies near that it was the early form of the poem, when it was still an ‘Ode to Freedom’ (not ‘to Joy’), which first aroused enthusiastic admiration for it in Beethoven’s mind”.[7] The musicologist Alexander Rehding points out that even Bernstein, who used “Freiheit” in one performance in 1989, called it conjecture whether Schiller used “joy” as code for “freedom” and that scholarly consensus holds that there is no factual basis for this myth.[8]

Use of Beethoven’s setting[edit]

Anthem of the European UnionMENU0:00Instrumental performed by the United States Navy Band
Problems playing this file? See media help.

Over the years, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” has remained a protest anthem and a celebration of music.

Other musical settings[edit]

Other musical settings of the poem include:

External audio
audio icon Schubert’s “An die Freude” on YouTubeDietrich Fischer-DieskauGerald Moore


  1. ^ The usual name of the Hymn tune is “Hymn to Joy” “Hymnary – Hymn to Joy”. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  2. ^ “History of the Schiller House”stadtgeschichtliches-museum-leipzig.de.
  3. ^ Schiller, Friedrich (October 21, 1800). “[Untitled letter]”wissen-im-netz.info (in German). Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  4. ^ Duden – Das Herkunftswörterbuch. Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut. 1963. p. 446. ISBN 3-411-00907-1. The word was derived via French from ultimately Latin modusDuden cites as first meanings “Brauch, Sitte, Tages-, Zeitgeschmack“. The primary modern meaning has shifted more towards “fashion”.
  5. ^ Kubacki, Wacław (January 1960). “Das Werk Juliusz Slowackisund seine Bedeutung für die polnische Literatur”. Zeitschrift für Slawistik (in German). 5 (1). doi:10.1524/slaw.1960.5.1.545S2CID 170929661.
  6. ^ Görlach, Alexander (4 August 2010). “Der Glaube an die Freiheit – Wen darf ich töten?”The European. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Das ‘Alle Menschen werden Brüder’, das Schiller in seiner Ode an die Freude (eigentlich Ode an die Freiheit) formuliert, …
  7. ^ Thayer, A. W.(1817–97), rev. and ed. Elliot ForbesThayer’s Life of Beethoven. (2 vols. 1967, 1991) Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 895.
  8. ^ Rehding, Alexander (2018). Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Oxford University Press. p. 33, note 8 on p. 141. ISBN 9780190299705.
  9. ^ Kerry Candaele (6 May 2015). “Following Beethoven’s Ninth”Al Jazeera. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  10. Jump up to:a b Daniel M. Gold (October 31, 2013). “The Ode Heard Round the World: Following the Ninth Explores Beethoven’s Legacy”The New York Times. Retrieved 28 Sep 2014.
  11. ^ Video of a “flash mob” – “Ode to Joy” sung at Leipzig railway station (8 November 2009) on YouTube
  12. ^ Megan Garber (9 July 2012). “Ode to Joy: 50 String Instruments That Will Melt Your Heart”The Atlantic. Retrieved 3 January2020.
  13. ^ “Beethoven’s Flash Mobs”billmoyers.com. November 14, 2013.
  14. ^ Nougayrède, Natalie (8 May 2017). “Macron’s victory march to Europe’s anthem said more than words”The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  15. ^ “EU anthem played at Proms’ first night”BBC News. BBC. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  16. ^ “Prom 9: War & Peace”BBC Music Events. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  17. ^ Excommunication, daisakuikeda.org (undated)
  18. ^ Otto Erich Deutsch et al. Schubert Thematic Catalogue, German edition 1978 (Bärenreiter), pp. 128–129

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Schiller’s Ode an die Freude.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:Ode to Joy
showvteLudwig van Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 9
showvteSongs by Franz Schubert
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2 thoughts on “Ode to Joy

  1. I too, Carolyn, love the music very much as well as the lyrics! It says: “Beethoven’s text is not based entirely on Schiller’s poem, and it introduces a few new sections.” Nonetheless, I think, we should appreciate that the lyrics are mainly the work of Schiller.
    Stay safe, Carolyn! HUGS, Uta 🙂

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