What are the lyrics to ‘Ode to Joy’?

Written by Schiller in the late 18th century it was immortalised by Beethoven in his ninth symphony. Here are its lyrics

Ode to Joy lyrics

Who wrote Ode to Joy?

The hauntingly beautiful poem ‘Ode to Joy’ was written by German poet Friedrich Schiller in 1785 to celebrate . He revised it in 1808 and Beethoven then used it in his final fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony. Beethoven also slightly adapted the words by adding this intro:

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Oh friends, not these sounds!
Let us instead strike up more pleasing
and more joyful ones!

Freude!
Freude!

‘Ode to Joy’ has since become a protest song across the world. Perhaps one of its most famous performances was conducted by  Leonard Bernstein on Christmas Day in 1989  after the fall of the Berlin Wall , when appropriately the word ‘Freude’ (joy) was replaced with “Freiheit” (freedom).

Is it true ‘Ode to Joy’ is Europe’s official anthem?

Yes it is. Or rather Beethoven’s music to Ode to Joy is the official Anthem of Europe and is played at official events. It was adapted in 1972 and is not designed to replace individual states national anthems but rather celebrate Europe’s sense of brotherhood, like Schiller intended

What are the original lyrics to Ode to Joy in English?

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity [or: of gods],
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly one, thy sanctuary!
Thy magic binds again
What custom strictly divided;*
All people become brothers,*
Where thy gentle wing abides.

Whoever has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend’s friend,
Whoever has won a lovely woman,
Add his to the jubilation!
Yes, and also whoever has just one soul
To call his own in this world!
And he who never managed it should slink
Weeping from this union!

All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breasts.
All the Just, all the Evil
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us and grapevines,
A friend, proven in death.
Ecstasy was given to the worm
And the cherub stands before God.

Gladly, as His suns fly
through the heavens’ grand plan
Go on, brothers, your way,
Joyful, like a hero to victory.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Are you collapsing, millions?
Do you sense the creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy!
Above stars must He dwell

What are the German lyrics to ‘Ode to Joy’ (An die Freude)

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt*;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder*
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben
und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.

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Top image credit: Getty Images