Helan Går

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Helan Går is a popular Swedish drinking song. Helan ("the whole") is an expression signifying the first (small) glass of spirit (commonly akvavit or vodka) in a series, and går means "goes (down)". Thus, it is commonly sung as a toast, typically for the first glass of spirit at a seated dinner. The song has also become quite common in Finland, especially at academic dinners.

When Sweden's ice hockey team won the 1957 World Ice Hockey Championships in Moscow, not all of the Swedish players knew the lyrics to Du gamla, du fria, the de facto Swedish national anthem, so the players sang Helan Går instead.[1][2][3]

A sample of the song as it is commonly sung as a toast by amateurs is available in this recording of the press conference of Sun Microsystems acquiring MySQL. The Finnish/Swedish leadership of MySQL celebrates by toasting with Helan Går. Kaj Arnö precedes the song with the commonly used solo prelude of the toastmaster from the first verse of "Liten Fågel", a separate song by Mathilda Langlet and Göran Möller from 1878.

The song's origin is uncertain because it is rarely noted in historical documents. One early mention occurs in an operetta in 1843.

Several composers have written variations of the melody, including Franz Lehár.

In 1959 The Belafonte Folk Singers recorded Heylan Går on the album Drinking Songs Around The World RCA LSP1992.

The song, in an instrumental version under the title Helan, is present as a ringtone on some Nokia mobile phones, possibly as a nod to Nokia's Scandinavian heritage.

Lyrics[edit]

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar*
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
(Drink)
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

*In the classic version, "trår" is used instead of "tar". "Tar" is modernized, and doesn't rhyme.

English version[edit]

Here's the first
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la la la"
Here's the first
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"
He who doesn't drink the first
Shall never, ever quench his thirst
Here's the first
[Drink]
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"

More verbatim the song translates to:

The whole one goes down
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la la la"
The whole one goes down
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"
And he who doesn't take the whole
Doesn't get the half one either
The whole one goes down
[drink]
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Rehnberg, Bo; Wickman, Mats (1991). Djurgårdens IF 100 år: 1891-1991 (in Swedish). Stockholm, Sweden: Sellin & partner förlag. p. 136. ISBN 91-7055-029-8. 
  2. ^ Larsson, Jan-Erik (21 September 2010). "Energiknippe fyller 75 år". Norrländska Socialdemokraten (in Swedish). Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Brändström, Leif (23 December 2010). "Europarekord för Frölunda på Ullevi". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 19 November 2010. 

References (Swedish)[edit]

  • Christina Mattsson, Helan går. 150 visor till skålen, Atlantis, 2002.
  • Christina Mattsson, Från Helan till lilla Manasse, Atlantis, 2002.