Monday, October 26, 2020

A Very Old Drinking Song

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:

Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

And in translation if you like me have forgotten Latin itself, as well as the high-school class:

Let us rejoice, therefore,
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troubling old age
The earth will have us.

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:

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable

Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table

David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'bout the raising of the wrist
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill

Plato, they say, could stick it away
Half a crate of whiskey every day

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
And Hobbes was fond of his dram

And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed

Here are the Monty Pythons singing it at the Hollywood Bowl, with repeats and audience participation:

Are you in principle opposed to alcoholic beverages? Then I guess this post isn't for you. Sorry. Also sorry if you aren't a Monty Python fan. I'm neither a big drinker nor a teetotaler. But I'm definitely a big Monty Python fan!

On the other hand, if you don't mind some fun about drinking, then this post might be for you. I'm sharing with Elizabeth and her weekly blog event at Altered Book Lover, which is dedicated to drinks of all kinds, especially tea. This post is by Mae Sander, © 2020, with Youtube images as credited.


Iris Flavia said...

Loved the canoe-reference! Though the Aussie industry-beer is also much less stronger than the German one.
"...Who could think you under the table" - brilliant!

Yvonne said...

Monty Python rules! When I was young it was vodka gimlets, then middle age it was a good wine, and now that I'm a bit younger than Methuselah it's become a cup of good tea.

Eileen Bergen said...

Fabulous funny post, Mae. I didn't know that "Gaudeamus Igitur" was a college drinking song. I'm a Monty Python fan too. And I tipple a bit - lol.

Happy T-Day. Stay safe and stay well. Hugs, Eileen

Linda Kunsman said...

well now, this was news to me- and quite inteersting and entertaining as well:) Thank you! Happy T day!

My name is Erika. said...

This is a fascinating take for T. Its also interesting Monty Python rewrote the verses. Have a great T day. Hugs-Erika

kathyinozarks said...

Interesting post-thanks and Happy T wishes Kathy

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

I did not know Gaudeamus Igitur was a drinking song. That's brilliant and I might be humming it all day. Monty Python is a firm favourite in our house. I shall play the song for Dave when we are up and about.

ashok said...

Good one!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

The original song is interesting, and almost sounds like a gravestone epitaph. Happy T-Day!

Karen said...

Very clever T reference this am! I had a good laugh ~ Enjoy the rest of your week!

DVArtist said...

This is such a great post Mae. Original music wow. Have a nice day today.

Sharon Madson said...

Interesting post and perfect for T Day. Have a great week.

Divers and Sundry said...

Fun! I'm unfamiliar with the song, but I'm trying to join in the spirit of it. This, too, shall pass.

I have a bottle of champagne waiting for the day I hope I'll be toasting our new president. Other than that I've run out of my liquor stock and don't want to venture to the liquor store right now. *sigh*

Happy T Tuesday!

CJ Kennedy said...

I haven't heard Gaudeamus Igitur in ages. I think I've seen it used in old movies as a gradation song instead of Pomp and Circumstance. Monty Python is just so fun and clever. Thanks for the smiles and Happy T Day

Let's Art Journal said...

So funny, love Monty Python too! Like many people my favourite is the Parrot sketch 😀. Thanks for sharing the drinking songs! Take care and happy T Day wishes! Hugs, Jo x

Kate Yetter said...

Absolutely loved listening to Gaudeamus igitur. A beautifully performed song.
Thanks for sharing.
Happy Tea Day,

Debra Eliotseats said...

What an eclectic post! Love the serene melody (not a rousing drinking song) to the totally inane antics of Monty Python! Made me smile and need lots of smiles now.

LA Paylor said...

I'm a fan of wine plus MOnty in fact, maybe it's time to go get a glass now, it's after 6 and bachelorette will soon start so I need a drinking word for that. Always fun here!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I am leaving this generic message for everyone who visited and participated in T Tuesday. I want to thank you for visiting. You may have noticed I was offline off and on for three days. I kept losing electricity. Each time, I was able to visit a few people before the electricity went out again. The third time, I was leaving a comment for Valerie when I heard a huge BOOM. There was a flash of light, the windows and walls shook. It felt like an earthquake to me, but it only lasted a second or two. I believe they have finally fixed the electricity in my neighborhood. I won’t know until I get to explore the internet, but it may have been very local. I know I saw two bucket trucks driving up my street less than an hour after it happened. With no heat, the temperatures both nights dipped into the mid-20s F (low 4s C). Thanks for your participation and thanks for hopefully understanding why I was unable to visit for T this week.

Jeanie said...

I haven't heard the Philosopher's Song in so long! It's brilliant! Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorite groups!