Hänschen klein

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"Hänschen klein" (Little Hans) by Franz Wiedemann [de] (1821–1882) is a German folk song and children's song originating in the Biedermeier period of the 19th century.


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 other versions are the children's songs "Little bird, have you heard" and "Baby-bye, there's a fly", which are in turn related to the song "Warm Kitty" (made famous as "Soft Kitty" in the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory)[citation needed]. It is the theme song of the 1977 war film Cross of Iron. In the German dubbed version of 2001: A Space Odyssey the HAL 9000 computer sings "Hänschen klein" (instead of "Daisy Bell") while deactivated, possibly because in 1958 a Z22 computer had been programmed by the employees of Konrad Zuse to sing the tune in a demonstration.[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!"

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?

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!"

Literal translation
Little Hans
Went alone
Into the wide world.
Stick and hat
Suits him well
Is very cheerful.
But mother cries a lot
Hasn't got a little boy anymore!
"Wish you luck!"
Says her look
"Come back soon!"

Seven years
Cloudy and clear
Hänschen was abroad.
Think about it
The child
Hurry home quickly.
But now it's no longer a little boy.
No, he is a great Hans.
Burned brown
Forehead and hand.
Will he be recognized?

One two Three
Go by
Don't know who it is.
Sister speaks:
"What face?"
Doesn't know the brother.
Hence comes the mother,
Hardly look him in the eye
She is already calling:
"Hans, my son!
God greet you, my son!"

Free translation[2]
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."

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?

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."

Closer translation
Little Hans
Went alone
In the Wider World to roam.
Staff and hat,
Suits him that!
He is really pleased.
But his mother cries so sore
For she has no Hänschen more
"Wish you luck!"
Says her look
"Just you come back soon!"

Seven year
Cloud and clear
Hänschen wandered far and near.
Then he thinks,
"No more jinks
Speed you home right now!"
But he is Young Hans no more.
No, it's Big Hans to the fore.
Nicely tanned
Brow and hand.
Will they know him now?

One two three
Pass and see
They don’t know who that may be.
Sister says:
"Whose that face?"
Knows her brother not.
But here comes his mother nigh,
Hardly looks him in the eye
Then a cry,
"Hans, Oh my!
God’s greetings, you, my son!."

Shortened version[edit]

The following version, thought to be from about 1899, is attributed to Otto Frömmel [de] (1873–1940).

\relative c'' { \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4 = 128
               g4 e4 e2 | f4 d4 d2 | c4 d4 e4 f4 | g4 g4 g2 |
               g4 e4 e2 | f4 d4 d2 | c4 e4 g4 g4 | c,1 |
               d4 d4 d4 d4 | d4 e4 f2 | e4 e4 e4 e4 | e4 f4 g2 |
               g4 e4 e2| f4 d4 d2| c4 e4 g4 g4 | c,1 \bar "|."}
\addlyrics {
   Häns -- chen klein | ging al -- lein | in die wei -- te | Welt hin -- ein. |
   Stock und Hut | stehn ihm gut, | ist gar wohl -- ge -- mut. |
   A -- ber Mut -- ter | wei -- net sehr, | hat ja nun kein | Häns -- chen mehr! |
   Da be -- sinnt | sich das Kind, | läuft nach Haus ge -- schwind.

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 home quickly.


  1. ^ Höltgen, Stefan (2014). "Computer im Film". In Kay Kirchmann; Jens Ruchatz (eds.). Medienreflexion im Film: Ein Handbuch (in German). Bielefeld: transcript Verlag. p. 302. ISBN 978-3-8376-1091-8.
  2. ^ Hanschen, free translation, Frank Petersohn 1999 at ingeb.org

External links[edit]