Gaudeamus igitur

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Gaudeamus igitur
English: So Let Us Rejoice
Postcard with symbols of traditional German student life from 1898

Official anthem of FISU World University Games and the International University Sports Federation
LyricsUnknown, 1287
MusicUnknown, 1782

"De Brevitate Vitae" (Latin for "On the Shortness of Life"), more commonly known as "Gaudeamus igitur" ("So Let Us Rejoice") or just "Gaudeamus", is a popular academic commercium song in many European countries, mainly sung or performed at university graduation ceremonies. Despite its use as a formal graduation hymn, it is a jocular, light-hearted composition that pokes fun at university life.[citation needed] The song is thought to originate in a Latin manuscript from 1287. It is in the tradition of carpe diem ("seize the day") with its exhortations to enjoy life. It was known as a beer-drinking song in many early universities and is the official song of many schools, colleges, universities, institutions, student societies and is the official anthem of the International University Sports Federation.


The lyrics reflect an endorsement of the bacchanalian mayhem of student life while simultaneously retaining the grim knowledge that one day we will all die. The song contains humorous and ironic references to sex[1] and death, and many versions have appeared following efforts to bowdlerise this song for performance in public ceremonies. In private, students will typically sing ribald words.

The song is sometimes known by its opening words, "Gaudeamus igitur" or simply "Gaudeamus". In the UK, it is sometimes affectionately known as "The Gaudie". The centuries of use have given rise to numerous slightly different versions.


The proposition that the lyrics originate in 1287[2] is based on a manuscript held in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. A poem starting with the words Subscribere proposui ("I have suggested signing (it)") has two verses that closely resemble the later Gaudeamus igitur verses, although neither the first verse nor the actual words Gaudeamus igitur appear. The music accompanying this poem bears no relation to the melody which is now associated with it. A German translation of these verses was made in about 1717 and published in 1730 without music. A Latin version in a handwritten student songbook, dating from some time between 1723 and 1750, is preserved in the Berlin State Library (formerly located at Marburg); however, this differs considerably from the modern text. The current Latin lyrics with a German translation were published by Halle in 1781 in Studentenlieder ("Students' Songs")[2] written by Christian Wilhelm Kindleben (1748-1785),[3] who admitted to making important changes to the text.[2]

Below is Kindleben's 1781 Latin version, with two translations to English (one anonymous, and another by Tr. J. Mark Sugars, 1997[4][5]). The New-Latin word Antiburschius refers to opponents of the 19th-century politically active German student fraternities.

When sung, the first two lines and the last line of each stanza are repeated; for instance:

Gaudeamus igitur,
Iuvenes dum sumus,
Gaudeamus igitur,
Iuvenes dum sumus!
Post iucundam iuventutem,
Post molestam senectutem,
Nos habebit humus,
Nos habebit humus.

Latin[6] English[citation needed] English
(Mark Sugars, 1997)

Gaudeamus igitur,
Iuvenes dum sumus!
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

So, let us rejoice
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troublesome old age
The earth will have us.

While we're young, let us rejoice,
Singing out in gleeful tones;
After youth's delightful frolic,
And old age (so melancholic!),
Earth will cover our bones.

Ubi sunt, qui ante nos
In mundo fuere,
Vadite ad superos,
Transite ad inferos,
Ubi iam fuere.

Where are they who, before us,
Were in the world?
Go to the heavens
Cross over into hell
Where they went through already.

Where are those who trod this globe
In the years before us?
They in hellish fires below,
Or in Heaven's kindly glow,
Swell th' eternal chorus.

Vita nostra brevis est,
Brevi finietur,
Venit mors velociter,
Rapit nos atrociter,
Nemini parcetur.

Our life is brief
Soon it will end.
Death comes quickly
Snatches us cruelly
To nobody shall it be spared.

Life is short and all too soon
We emit our final gasp;
Death ere long is on our back;
Terrible is his attack;
None escapes his dread grasp.

Vivat Academia,
Vivant professores,
Vivat membrum quodlibet,
Vivant membra quaelibet,
Semper sint in flore!

Long live the academy!
Long live the professors!
Long live each student;
Long live the whole fraternity;
For ever may they flourish!

Long live our academy,
Teachers whom we cherish;
Long live all the graduates,
And the undergraduates;
Ever may they flourish.

Vivant omnes virgines
Faciles, formosae
Vivant et mulieres
Tenerae, amabiles
Bonae, laboriosae.

Long live all virgins,
Easy [and] beautiful!
Long live [mature] women too,
Tender [and] lovable,
Good [and] hard-working.

Long live all the maidens fair,
Easy-going, pretty;
Long live all good ladies who
Are tender and so friendly to
Students in this city.

Vivat et respublica,
Et qui illam regit,
Vivat nostra civitas,
Maecenatum caritas,
Quae nos hic protegit.

Long live the state as well
And he who rules it!
Long live our city
[And] the charity of benefactors
Which protects us here!

Long live our Republic and
The gentlefolk who lead us;
May the ones who hold the purse
Be always ready to disburse
Funds required to feed us.

Pereat tristitia,
Pereant osores,
Pereat diabolus,
Quivis Antiburschius,
Atque irrisores.

May sadness perish!
May haters perish!
May the devil perish!
And also the opponents of the fraternities
And their mockers, too!

Down with sadness, down with gloom,
Down with all who hate us;
Down with those who criticize,
Look with envy in their eyes,
Scoff, mock and berate us.


The first appearance in print of the present melody was in Lieder für Freunde der Geselligen Freude ("Songs for Friends of Convivial Joy"), published in Leipzig in 1782, together with Kindleben's German lyrics; however, the tune was evidently well known before this date. The first publication of the present Latin text together with the present melody was probably in Ignaz Walter's 1797 operatic setting of Doktor Faust.[2] It is also heard in Berlioz' Damnation of Faust.

Johannes Brahms quoted the melody in the final section of his Academic Festival Overture, in a fortissimo rendition performed by the full orchestra.

Sigmund Romberg used it in the operetta The Student Prince, which is set at the University of Heidelberg.[7]

It is quoted in Johann Strauss II's "Studenten-Polka" (Française, Op.263), first performed at the students' ball at the Redoutensaal on 24 February 1862.

The tune is quoted, along with other student songs, in the overture of Franz von Suppé's 1863 operetta Flotte Burschen, the action being once again set at the University of Heidelberg.[8]

Basing it on the original melody, Franz Liszt has composed the Gaudeamus igitur—Paraphrase and later (1870) the Gaudeamus igitur—Humoreske.[9]

Modern version is rearrangement for male chorus with piano accompaniment, by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1874) (TH 187 ; ČW 413).

Tom Lehrer mentioned the Gaudeamus in his satirical song, "Bright College Days":

Turn on the spigot
Pour the beer and swig it
And gaudeamus igit-ur

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For instance, the noun membrum (member) has the same double meaning in Latin as in English.
  2. ^ a b c d Fuld, James J (1966) The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk, Dover Publications (2012 edition), ISBN 978-0486414751 (pp. 241–242)
  3. ^ Papadopoulos, George-Julius (2005), Johannes Brahms and nineteenth-century comic ideology, University of Washington (p. 360)
  4. ^ "Gaudeamus igitur / Brüder laßt uns lustig sein". Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  5. ^ "Gaudeamus igitur". Dr. Christopher S. Morrissey, Trinity Western University. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  6. ^ Studentenlieder. – Aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines unglücklichen Philosophen Florido genannt, gesammlet und verbessert von C. W. K. 1781, p. 56–58 & p. Vf. (title page with a flower and decoration).
    Reprint inside: Studentensprache und Studentenlied in Halle vor hundert Jahren. Neudruck des ‘Idiotikon der Burschensprache’ von 1795 und der ‘Studentenlieder’ von 1781. Eine Jubiläumsausgabe für die Universität Halle-Wittenberg dargebracht vom Deutschen Abend in Halle: Max Niemeyer (Druck: Buchdruckerei des Waisenhauses), Halle a. S., 1894, Studentenlieder p. 52–54 & p. V (title page with a leaf) (Google (complete work), Google (only the Studentenlieder))
  7. ^ Everett, William A (2007), Sigmund Romberg Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0300111835 (pp. 142–143)
  8. ^ "SUPPE: Famous Overtures". Naxos Digital Services Ltd. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Gaudeamus igitur – Humoreske, S509". Hyperion.

External links[edit]

Other (often non-original but altered) text variants: