In the year 1287, a manuscript was published that included the first recorded version of a classic student song titled "Gaudeamus Igitur." It's a cheerful meditation on the brevity of life and the need to enjoy it while one can. The medieval manuscript with the first reference to the song is in the National Library of France. Some of the lyrics in it are similar to a few of the very numerous verses of the song as it is still sung: for example in the video above, by students at the Jagiellonian Universtiy in Krakow, Poland in the Youtube-presented pandemic singing exercise from last spring. The sentiment of the song somehow seems very apt for the current global threat to long life and carefree youth!
The best-known verse, in Latin, which you may recognize from some almost-forgotten high school class:
Many references to the song have appeared throughout history -- sung when students got together to drink beer or wine — or when glee clubs and singing groups met and sang student songs. You thought college drinking was a recent phenomenon? Think again!A bit more history comes from Wikipedia (of course):
"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. It is also heard in Berlioz' Damnation of Faust." (source)
Many other classical composers wrote versions of the song, or included snatches of the melody in other compositions, including Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, and Johann Strauss. The Wikipedia article includes an incredibly long list of films, popular songs, and other entertainments where the tune or the words have been referenced.
According to the Williams College Alumni site: "'Gaudeamus Igitur' is one of the oldest 'college songs' in the Western Hemisphere and has a long history of association with many colleges and universities. Though the Latin text, the occasions at which it is often performed, and the quality of the melody give the song a formal air, it is in fact a light-hearted take on university life." (source)
But for something completely different, here's the Monty Python Philosophers' Drinking Song: