Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Es sang vor langen Jahren
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
  Es sang vor langen Jahren
Wohl auch die Nachtigall!
Das war wohl süßer Schall,
Da wir zusammen waren.

  Ich sing' und kann nicht weinen,
Und spinne so allein,
Den Faden klar und rein
So lang' der Mond wird scheinen.

  Da wir zusammen waren,
Da sang die Nachtigall;
Nun mahnet mich ihr Schall,
Daß du von mir gefahren.

  So oft der Mond mag scheinen,
Gedenk' ich dein allein.
Mein Herz ist klar und rein --
Gott wolle uns vereinen!

  Seit du von mir gefahren,
Singt stets die Nachtigall,
Ich denke bei ihrem Schall,
Wie wir zusammen waren.

  Gott wolle uns vereinen!
Hier spinn' ich so allein.
Der Mond scheint klar und rein,
Ich sing' und möchte weinen!

J. Lang sets stanza 1 in (at least) one setting - see below for more information

About the headline (FAQ)

View text with footnotes

Confirmed with Clemens Brentano, Aus der Chronika eines fahrenden Schülers, Berlin: Paul Gerh. Heinersdorff, Hofbuchhandlung, [1871], pages 31-32.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Il y a de nombreuses années", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 116

Long years ago the nightingale
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
  Long years ago the nightingale
Must surely have sung as well!
That was indeed a sweet sound
When we were together.

  I sing and cannot weep,
And thus alone I spin
The thread so clear and pure
As long as the moon shall shine.

  When we were together
The nightingale sang;
Now its sound reminds me
That you have gone away from me.

  Whenever the moon shines,
I think only of you.
My heart is serene and pure -
May God unite us.

  Since you went away from me,
The nightingale is always singing;
When I hear it I remember
How we used to be together.

  May God unite us!
Here I spin all alone.
The moon shines so clearly and purely;
I sing and want to weep.

About the headline (FAQ)

View text with footnotes
Translated titles:
Altes Lied = Old song
Der Spinnerin Lied = Song of a spinning girl
Der Spinnerin Nachtlied = Night song of a spinning girl Es sang vor langen Jahren = Long years ago there sang
Lied der Spinnerin= Song of a spinning girl
Sehnsucht = Yearning


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2017 by Sharon Krebs, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2006-12-23
Line count: 24
Word count: 129