by Anna (Nuhn) Ritter (1865 - 1921)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
Sturm, wer gab dir den Athem?
Welle, wer gab dir Flügel?
Und du Vöglein droben im schimmernden Blau,
Wer rief dich über die Hügel?
                     Ich weiß, ach ich weiß . . .
Es geht eine alte Melodie,
Die war mit der Menschheit geboren,
Jahrtausende starben, sie hat sich nie
Im Lärmen des Tages verloren:
     Sehnsucht, Sehnsucht,
     Treibende Macht!
     Gott, der in Fesseln
     Der Knechtschaft lacht,
     Zagenden heimlich die Schwingen lößt,
     Trunkne hinab in den Abgrund stößt,
     Sonne des Tages,
     Seele der Nacht --
     Sehnsucht, Sehnsucht,
     Treibende Macht!


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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in Danish (Dansk), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by Johan Backer-Lunde.

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

  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Yearning", copyright © 2015
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Désir", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2011-07-06
Line count: 19
Word count: 86

Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Storm, who gave you breath?
Wave, who gave you wings?
And you, little bird, up there in the glimmering blue,
Who called you over the hills?
                               I know, ah, I know...
It is an old melody
That was born with mankind,
Millenia pass, but it has never
Been lost in the noise of the day:
  Yearning, yearning,
  Driving force!
  God, who laughs in the chains
  of bondage,
  apprehensively releases the wings in secret,
  shoving the drunken ones into the abyss;
  Sun of the day,
  Soul of the night.
  Yearning, yearning,
  Driving force!


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2015 by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive --

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2015-08-18
Line count: 19
Word count: 92