What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


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MCMYCL*: 1977

Carl Orff is best known for his "Scenic Cantata," Carmina Burana (1936). But he was also a pioneer in the development of children's musical education. Between 1950 and 1954 he published five volumes of Music for Children. In 1977 a supplementary volume entitled Paralimpomena appeared. The last piece in this last volume is a choral setting of "Das Himmlische Leben" (The Heavenly Life) from Arnim & Brentano's famous collection of German folk poetry, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn) - a poem which had earlier provided Gustav Mahler with the text for the finale of his Fourth Symphony. Orff's version is shorter, earthier, and, like many of his pieces for children, irresistibly catchy:

I have provided English subtitles and a background of appropriate stained glass windows.
*Modern Concert Music You Can Love

Comments (7)

Great continuation of the series. Since I found it hard to read the lyrics against the picture background (which is probably just me), here are the English lyrics all in one place:

We enjoy the heavenly pleasures
and avoid the earthly things.
No worldly tumult
does one hear in Heaven!
Everything lives in the gentlest peace!
We lead an angelic life!
Nevertheless we are very merry:
we dance and leap,
hop and sing!
Meanwhile, Saint Peter in the sky looks on.

Saint John has let his little lamb go
to the butcher Herod.
We lead a patient,
innocent, patient,
a dear little lamb to death!
Saint Luke slaughters oxen
without giving it thought or attention.
Wine costs not a penny
in Heaven's cellar;
and angels bake the bread.

Good vegetables of all sorts
grow in Heaven's garden!
Good asparagus, beans
and whatever we wish!
Full bowls are ready for us!
Good apples, good pears and good grapes!
The gardener permits us everything!
Would you like roebuck, would you like hare?
In the very streets
they run by!

Should a fast-day arrive,
all the fish swim up to us with joy!
Over there, Saint Peter is running already
with his net and bait
to the heavenly pond.
Saint Martha must be the cook!

No music on earth
can be compared to ours.
Eleven thousand maidens
dare to dance!
Even Saint Ursula herself is laughing!
Cecilia and all her relatives
are splendid court musicians!
The angelic voices
rouse the senses
so that everything awakens with joy.

Thanks, Lydia - it's a real problem coming up with readable subtitles on a multi-colored background. Generally speaking, yellow seems to work best - but yellow subtitles are so *ugly!

The poem, by the way, is supposed to express a child's view of heaven. I guess in earlier centuries children were even more preoccupied with food than they are today.

I hate to say it, but they were that preoccupied with food because they were hungry. Or such is my guess.

Fast days in heaven? Hey, at least they have great fish for it...


I'm not kidding -- there must be a way you can take your talent for putting these videos together and make some money! I'm going to share this one with my girls -- thanks so much.

I do have to agree with Lydia -- as much as you hate the look of yellow subtitiles, they would be much easier to read.

Thanks for posting this. I've always been fond of the Germanic musical tradition influenced by the volkish poetic tradition. Schubert's Winterreise, which I've seen performed twice, is one of my favorite pieces of poetry set to music.

Thanks for the post!

I started playing the piece when we got home from church and my two youngest girls wandered into the room and sat in my lap to hear the it all on their own.

Just getting around to this - delightful! And very German. Love it. Thanks for putting this up.

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