Hänschen klein

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"Hänschen klein" is a traditional German folk song and children's song originating in the Biedermeier period of the 19th century. The title translates to English as "Little Hans".

Originally it told of a juvenile who ventures to the world and returns as a man to his family. It gained much more popularity around 1900, when the following abridged textual version came to be adopted as among the first songs to be taught to small children, whether at home or in kindergarten. Now it is about a small boy, who is going away but returns immediately to hearth and home, since his mother, left alone, began crying.

The tune of this song is also used in the simple Mother Goose rhyme of "Lightly Row," and another version is the children's song "Little bird, have you heard," which in turn is related to the song "Warm Kitty" (made famous as "Soft Kitty" in the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory). It is the theme song of the 1977 war film Cross of Iron. It is also playable in Wii Music. In the German dubbed version of 2001: A Space Odyssey the HAL 9000 computer sings "Hänschen klein" (instead of Daisy Bell) while deactivated. Another version is "Tune of the Tuna Fish" in the John W. Schaum Piano Course Book C.

The song is called "Butterfly" in the Japanese language and "Boneka Abdi" (means "My Doll") in Sundanese.


1. Hänschen klein
Ging allein
In die weite Welt hinein.
Stock und Hut
Steht ihm gut,
Ist gar wohlgemut.
Aber Mutter weinet sehr,
Hat ja nun kein Hänschen mehr!
"Wünsch dir Glück!"
Sagt ihr Blick,
"Kehr' nur bald zurück!"

2. Sieben Jahr
Trüb und klar
Hänschen in der Fremde war.
Da besinnt
Sich das Kind,
Eilt nach Haus geschwind.
Doch nun ist's kein Hänschen mehr.
Nein, ein großer Hans ist er.
Braun gebrannt
Stirn und Hand.
Wird er wohl erkannt?

3. Eins, zwei, drei
Geh'n vorbei,
Wissen nicht, wer das wohl sei.
Schwester spricht:
"Welch Gesicht?"
Kennt den Bruder nicht.
Kommt daher die Mutter sein,
Schaut ihm kaum ins Aug hinein,
Ruft sie schon:
"Hans, mein Sohn!
Grüß dich Gott, mein Sohn!"

Franz Wiedemann 1821-1882(Original text)

1. Little John
He has gone
Out to see the world alone
Staff and hat,
Look at that,
He's one happy cat.
But his mommy cries a lot
Now she has no Johnny got.
"Fortune find,
But you mind,
Come back to your kind."

2.Seven years,
Joy and tears,
John in many lands appears.
Then he thought
That he ought
To go home and got -
But now he's no Johnny small,
No, he is now big John tall.
Tall and tanned,
Face and hand.
Will they know this man?

3. One, two, three
Pass and see,
Don't know who this man might be.
Even Sis:
"Who is this?"
Knows not who he is.
Then along comes mother dear,
Barely sees his eyes so clear,
Says: "My son,
Welcome home,
God bless you my son."

Contemporary Text

Hänschen klein
ging allein
in die weite Welt hinein.
Stock und Hut
stehn ihm gut,
ist gar wohlgemut.
Aber Mutter weinet sehr,
hat ja nun kein Hänschen mehr.
Da besinnt
sich das Kind,
kehrt nach Haus geschwind.

Little Hans
went alone
out into the wide world.
Staff and hat
suit him well.
He is in good spirits.
But his mother cries so much,
for she no longer has little Hans.
Look! the child
changes his mind
and returns quickly home.

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