by Victor Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885)
Translation © by Peter Low

Quand tu chantes, bercée
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG GER ITA
On entend une guitare et une voix éloignée qui chante:
1. Quand tu chantes, bercée
   Le soir entre mes bras,
   Entends-tu ma pensée
   Qui te répond tout bas ?
   Ton doux chant me rappelle
   Les plus beaux de mes jours...
      Chantez, ma belle !
      Chantez toujours !

   [C'est mon homme.]1

La voix
 (Elle s'approche à chaque couplet.)
2. Quand tu ris, sur ta bouche
   L'amour s'épanouit,
   [Et le soupçon farouche
   Soudain s'évanouit !]2
   Ah ! le rire fidèle
   Prouve un cœur sans détours ! ... --
     Riez, ma belle !
     Riez toujours!

3. Quand tu dors, calme et pure,
   Dans l'ombre, sous mes yeux,
   Ton haleine murmure
   Des mots harmonieux.
   Ton beau corps se révèle
   Sans voile et sans atours... --
     Dormez, ma belle,
     Dormez toujours !

4. Quand tu me dis: Je t'aime !
   Ô ma beauté ! je croi !
   Je crois que le ciel même
   S'ouvre au-dessus de moi !
   Ton regard étincelle
   Du beau feu des amours... --
     Aimez, ma belle,
     Aimez toujours !

5. Vois-tu ? toute la vie
   Tient dans ces quatre mots,
   Tous les biens qu'on envie,
   Tous les biens sans les maux !
   Tout ce qui peut séduire
   Tout ce qui peut charmer... --
     Chanter et rire,
     Dormir, aimer !

C. Gounod sets stanzas 1-3
F. Liszt sets stanzas 1, 4
H. Kjerulf sets stanza 3 in (at least) one setting - see below for more information
J. Weckerlin sets stanzas 4-5

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Victor Hugo, Marie Tudor. La Esmerelda, Paris: J. Hetzel, 1833, Journée I, Scène v, pages 27-28; and with Œuvres de Victor Hugo, Volume 1, Bruxelles, J. P. Meline, 1836, pages 735-736.

1 omitted in the songs; note that we are not counting this line as a stanza for the songs with selected stanzas. We've added numbers to the stanzas for clarity.
2 Gounod: "Et soudain le farouche / Soupçon s'évanouit.


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 German (Deutsch), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ENG ITA ; composed by Charles Gounod.

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

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , no title, copyright © 2000-2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Serenata", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Garrett Medlock [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 45
Word count: 205

When you sing in the evening
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
A guitar is heard and a voice in the distance singing
When you sing in the evening
cradled in my arms,
can you hear my thoughts
softly answering you?
Your sweet song recalls to me
the happiest days I've known.
Sing, sing, my pretty one,
sing on forever!

The man
 That is my man. 
The voice
(The voice comes closer with every stanza)
When you laugh, love 
blossoms on your lips,
[and at once cruel 
suspicion vanishes.]1
Ah, faithful laughter
shows a heart without guile.
Laugh, laugh, my pretty one,
laugh on forever!

When you sleep calm and pure
beneath my gaze, in the shadow,
your breathing murmurs
harmonious words.
Your lovely body is revealed
without veil or finery.
Sleep, sleep, my pretty one,
sleep on forever!

When you say 'I love you',
oh my beauty, I believe!
I think that heaven itself
is opening above me!
Your eyes sparkle
with love's beautiful fire...
Love,love, my pretty one,
love on forever!

Do you see? All of life
is held in these four verbs,
all the good things people wish for,
all the good without the bad!
Everything that can delight,
everything that can charm...
To sing, to laugh,
to sleep, to love!

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
Translation of title "Sérénade" = "Serenade"
1 Translator's note: Gounod has "Et soudain le farouche Soupçon s'évanouit!". This change in word-order, made for rhythmic reasons, does not alter the sense.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2000-2019 by Peter Low, (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 between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 45
Word count: 202