Gaudeamus igitur

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"De Brevitate Vitae" and "Gaudeamus" redirect here. For the work by Seneca the Younger, see De Brevitate Vitae (Seneca). For the Gaudeamus Foundation and Prizes, see Gaudeamus Foundation. For the rodent genus, see Phiomyidae. For the 1928 Eliade novel, see Gaudeamus (novel).
Postal card with symbols of traditional German student life of 1898

"De Brevitate Vitae" (Latin: "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 Western 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. 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 ancient 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 is based on a manuscript held in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. A poem starting with the words Subscribere proposui ("Sign the proposed") 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.[4]

Below is Kindleben's 1781 Latin version, with two translations to English (one anonymous and literal, and another by J. Mark Sugars, 1997).[5] The pseudo-Latin word antiburschius refers to opponents of the 19th-century politically active German student fraternities. The letter 'j' used in some modern transcriptions does 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 iucundam iuventutem.
Post molestam senectutem.
Nos habebit humus —
Nos habebit humus.
Latin English English (Mark Sugars, 1997)
Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.
Let us rejoice, therefore,
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troubling 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 in inferos
Hos si vis videre.
Where are they who, before us,
Were in the world?
Go to the heavens
Cross over into hell
If you wish to see them.
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 flores.
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 res publica
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.
Let sadness perish!
Let haters perish!
Let 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 teaches 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.[6]

Johannes Brahms quoted the hymn 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 Redoutensaal (Students Ball) on 24 February 1862.

The hymn 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]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The melody is woven through the soundtrack of Harold Lloyd's silent film "The Freshman" (1925).[clarification needed]
  • The song is 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 was 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.
  • Peter Alexander sang 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.
  • 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.[9]
  • 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.
  • An excerpt of the song was performed by cast members of the television series The West Wing during the episode entitled "Debate Camp" (2002).
  • 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 was sung to uplift spirits, after a party of the fictional student society HSV Mercurius was shut down by riot police. Singing the song made them feel proud to be a student, as they stood their ground against riot police.


  • This song was referenced in satirist Tom Lehrer's song "Bright College Days" in 1959 in his 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 igit-ur."
  • 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 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 The Escorts, from 1962, perhaps the only doo wop song sung in Latin.[10] (Coral 62317)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For instance, the noun membrum (member) has the same double meaning in Latin as in English.
  2. ^ 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. ^ Fuld p. 242
  5. ^ "Gaudeamus igitur / Brüder laßt uns lustig sein / Riemuitkaamme, vielä on free midi mp3 download Strand Hotel Sechelt bed breakfast". Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  6. ^ Fuld, p. 242
  7. ^ Everett, William A (2007), Sigmund Romberg Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0300111835 (pp. 142–143)
  8. ^ "SUPPE: Famous Overtures". Naxos Digital Services Ltd. 
  9. ^ "Fox Dates ‘Deadpool’ for Feb. 12, 2016 10 hours ago". IMDb. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  10. ^

External links[edit]