Gaudeamus igitur

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from De Brevitate Vitae)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Gaudeamus igitur
English: So Let Us Rejoice
Gaudeamus igitur 1898.jpg
Postcard with symbols of traditional German student life from 1898

Official anthem of Universiade and the International University Sports Federation
LyricsUnknown, 1287
MusicUnknown, 1782
"Gaudeamus igitur" on a skull-shaped tankard, Valentin-Karlstadt-Museum, Munich
"Iuvenes dum sumus"

"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 and high-school 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. The letters 'j' and 'u' used in some modern transcriptions do not occur in classical Latin.

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 jucundam juventutem,
Post molestam senectutem,
Nos habebit humus,
Nos habebit humus.

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

Gaudeamus igitur,
Iuvenes dum sumus,
Post jucundam juventutem
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 jam 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 girls,
Easy [and] beautiful!
Long live [mature] women too,
Tender, 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,
Mecaenatum 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.

Quis confluxus hodie
E longinquo convenerunt,
Protinusque successerunt
In commune forum.

What a gathering
of academics is there today?
From far away they gathered,
Immediately they advanced
Into the public forum

Why has such a multitude
Come here during winter break?
Despite distance, despite weather,
They have gathered here together
For Philology's sake!

Vivat nostra societas,
Vivant studiosi!
Crescat una veritas,
Floreat fraternitas,
Patriae prosperitas.

Long live our fellowship,
Long live the students;
May truth alone thrive
May brotherhood flourish
(and) the prosperity of the country.

Long live our society,
Scholars wise and learned;
May truth and sincerity
Nourish our fraternity
And our land's prosperity.

Alma Mater floreat,
Quae nos educavit,
Caros et commilitones,
Dissitas in regiones
Sparsos, congregavit.

May our Alma Mater flourish,
Which has taught us;
Dear ones and comrades,
(and) the scattered into places
Various, she congregated.

May our Alma Mater thrive,
A font of education;
Friends and colleagues, where'er they are,
Whether near or from afar,
Heed her invitation.


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).

Languages in which the anthem was performed at the Universiade[edit]

Universiade City Language performed Notes
1959 Summer Turin,
1960 Winter Chamonix,
1961 Summer Sofia,
1962 Winter Villars,
1963 Summer Porto Alegre,
1964 Winter Špindlerův Mlýn,
1965 Summer Budapest,
1966 Winter Sestriere,
1967 Summer Tokyo,
1968 Winter Innsbruck,
1970 Winter Rovaniemi,
1970 Summer Turin,
Italian and Latin
1972 Winter Lake Placid,
 United States
1973 Summer Moscow,
 Soviet Union
1975 Winter Livigno,
1975 Summer Rome,
1977 Summer Sofia,
1978 Winter Špindlerův Mlýn,
1979 Summer Mexico City,
1981 Winter Jaca,
1981 Summer Bucharest,
1981 Winter Sofia,
1983 Summer Edmonton,
English and French
1985 Winter Belluno,
1985 Summer Kobe,
1987 Winter Štrbské Pleso,
1987 Summer Zagreb,
1989 Winter Sofia,
1989 Summer Duisburg,
 West Germany
1991 Winter Sapporo,
1991 Summer Sheffield,
 United Kingdom
1993 Winter Zakopane,
1993 Summer Buffalo,
 United States
1995 Winter Jaca,
1995 Summer Fukuoka,
1997 Winter Muju and Jeonju,
 South Korea
1997 Summer Sicily,
Italian, Sicilian and Latin
1999 Winter Poprad,
1999 Summer Palma,
Catalan and Spanish
2001 Winter Zakopane,
Polish and Latin
2001 Summer Beijing,
2003 Winter Tarvisio,
2003 Summer Daegu,
 South Korea
2005 Winter Innsbruck,
2005 Summer İzmir,
2007 Winter Turin,
2007 Summer Bangkok,
2009 Winter Harbin,
Instrumental A instrumental version of the anthem was used.
2009 Summer Belgrade,
2011 Winter Erzurum,
2011 Summer Shenzhen,
Latin Performed by a children's choir with orchestra. Only the first stanza was sung.
2013 Winter Trentino,
2013 Summer Kazan,
2015 Winter Granada,
Štrbské Pleso,
2015 Summer Gwangju,
 South Korea
2017 Winter Almaty,
2017 Summer Taipei,
Latin Arranged by Koji Sakurai and performed by the Taipei Youth Choir with Taipei Symphony Orchestra.[10]
Only the first three stanzas was sung.
2019 Winter Krasnoyarsk,
2019 Summer Naples,
2021 Summer Chengdu,
2023 Winter Lake Placid,
 United States

In popular culture[edit]

  • The melody is woven through the soundtrack of Harold Lloyd's silent film The Freshman (1925).[clarification needed]
  • It can be heard in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, during part of the sequence where the Wizard presents awards to each of Dorothy's companions.
  • The song is sung in the James Stewart movie The Mortal Storm (1940).
  • It was sung in Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire (1941) by a number of academics at a party where they are celebrating the upcoming nuptials of a professor played by Gary Cooper.
  • It is sung in the remake of Ball of Fire, A Song Is Born (1948), starring Danny Kaye.
  • It is performed as the musical theme of the classic 1951 Joseph L. Mankiewicz's film People Will Talk, delightfully "conducted" by Cary Grant – actually under Alfred Newman's baton. This film is a remake of the German Frauenarzt Dr. Praetorius, in which actor/director Curt Goetz performs that scene with the same music in the film based on his own play and screenplay.
  • In Yasujirō Ozu’s 1952 film The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice (Ochazuke no Aji), the first verse is sung in a Tokyo bar by a young man who has just graduated and is about to embark on his working life.
  • The song is sung on several occasions during the film The Student Prince, (1954), starring Edmund Purdom and Ann Blyth.
  • The music is played at the end of the Perry Mason TV episode "The Case of the Brazen Request," (Season 5, Episode 12, Sept. 1961) during Perry's characteristic "wrap up" of the case.
  • Peter Alexander sings this song in a medley in the 1963 film Der Musterknabe.
  • An arrangement of the tune is played on The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Education of Ernest T. Bass" (1964), when Bass receives his diploma.
  • In the film Lord Love a Duck (1966), a fairly modern vocal version is sung during graduation ceremonies.
  • The Happy Days episode "Fonzie Drops In" (1974) plays the melody when the character Fonzie goes back to high school.
  • It is alluded to in the Terry Pratchett novel Equal Rites (1987), where the character Treatle misquotes it: "Alma mater, gaudy armours eagle tour and so on."
  • A modified version can be heard in some episodes of the Saturday-morning cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
  • The melody also served as the music of the fictional school, Greenleaf High anthem, 'Hail To Thee O Greenleaf High' in the 1997 film In and Out.[13]
  • The song is sung in Lars von Trier's 1997 Danish TV mini-series Riget II, by a group of medical students as a sign of appreciation to their pathology teacher Professor Bondo, as a response to the latter having let a malign sarcoma be transplanted into his own bowels.
  • This song was used in PopCap Games' Bookworm Deluxe high-score menu.[14]
  • An excerpt of the song was performed by cast members of the television series The West Wing during the episode entitled "Debate Camp" (2002). Afterward, one character is asked by another what the lyrics mean, and he gives a standard English translation of the first verse.
  • A sped-up orchestral version of the song plays shortly during a scene of the characters chasing a pet pig in the 2013 film Monsters University.
  • In the 2013 Dutch film Feuten: Het Feestje [nl], the song is sung to uplift spirits, after a party of the fictional student society HSV Mercurius is shut down by riot police. Singing the song makes them feel proud to be students, as they stand their ground against the riot police.
  • Yale University alumna Jodie Foster included a slightly sped-up version of the Yale Glee Club's 1991 a cappella recording of the song, arranged and conducted by legendary YGC Director Fenno Heath, in her 1991 film Little Man Tate. She wished to express "the grandeur of the college experience" on exceptionally-gifted-child character Fred Tate's first day at university.
  • The song's title is featured in several section headings in Infinite Jest.
  • This song is sung at Smith College's convocation ceremony in Northampton, Massachusetts at the start of every academic year. It is known as Smith's anthem.
  • "Gaudeamus Igitur" is a short story by Shirley Jackson that appears in Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writing. [15]
  • The song was often heard in Tiny Toon Adventures in establishing shots of Acme Looniversity.


  • This song is referenced in satirist Tom Lehrer's song "Bright College Days" in his 1959 self-published album More of Tom Lehrer and in his more-recent album An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, in the line "Turn on the spigot, pour the beer and swig it, and gaudeamus ig-it-[hic!]-itur", the interruption being an intoxicated hiccup.
  • In the middle section of the Allan Sherman song "Dropouts March" (on the album Allan in Wonderland (1964)), an Alma Mater Chorus sings the following humorous line set to the melody: "Ignoramus there you are; Sitting in your hopped-up car; And your brains ain't up to par; And your ears stick out too far".
  • This song is on the full version of Melanie's "Stop I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore" from 1971.
  • The song is referenced in the Godley & Creme song "Punchbag" from their L album.
  • A performance of the first, most characteristic strophe was recorded in the mid-20th century by the Italian-American tenor Mario Lanza, and is still available under the title "Gaudeamus Igitur".
  • A doo wop version is available by the Escorts, from 1962, perhaps the only doo wop song sung in Latin.[16] (Coral 62317)

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.
  10. ^ (in Chinese) The choir's official Facebook post: lyrics used, a short rehearsal video.
  11. ^ Opening Ceremony - Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade. 2019-03-02. Event occurs at 1:35:34. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  12. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  13. ^ "Fox Dates 'Deadpool' for Feb. 12, 2016 10 hours ago". IMDb. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  14. ^ Bookworm Deluxe Music - High Scores [1080p HD], archived from the original on 2021-12-22, retrieved 2021-05-19
  15. ^ 'Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings. Random House: New York, 2015.
  16. ^ Becky B (28 October 2011). "Escorts - Gaudeamus (1962)". Archived from the original on 2021-12-22 – via YouTube.

External links[edit]

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