Ode to Joy
F. Schiller: Ode to Joy
tr. Dale Pendell
(While there are several good English translations of this poem, I wanted one that could be sung in church instead of Henry Van Dyck’s “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Van Dyck’s hymn is very tightly rhymed, has a strong trochaic meter, and is not a bad poem, as church hymns go—it’s just not Schiller. Hopefully, mine is closer. I skipped a couple of the stanzas, and used the 1785 version.)
Joy the godly spark of beauty,
Daughter of the blessed lands.
Drunk with fire, we seek our entry,
Heavenwards, to sacred hands.
Magic charms are reuniting
All stale custom’s sword has rent.
Poor and rich as brothers joining
Everywhere thy wings are bent.
Joy is drunk by every being,
When they nature’s breast embrace;
All the just and all the sinful
Follow down her rosy trace.
She gave vineyards, gave us kisses,
Friendship steadfast unto death:
Even worms are given blisses,
Cherubs share the Holy breath.
Joy commands the potent mainspring,
Nature’s quill, unendingly.
Joy, it’s joy that turns the wheeling
World-clock of eternity.
She tempts flowers from their buds and
Starry suns from the firmament.
She moves spheres in spaces deeper
Than the seer’s scopes present.
Living for Truth’s fiery mirror,
Joy rewards the seeker pure;
Up steep hills that lead to virtue,
Joy guides all who do endure.
Up on bright Faith’s sunlit mountains
Waft her banners on their spire;
Through the crack of broken coffins,
Joy stands in the angels’ choir.
Gods can never be requited—
Sweet that we’re made in their like;
Grief and need announce intention
To with joy take their delight.
Wrath and vengeance are forgotten;
We forgive the Enemy–
No more tears will he be shedding,
No more animosity.