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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Musical Humor

(For politics, please scroll down)

On Sunday, May 17, I took one of the homeschool group's 2015 seniors to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to hear the Choral Arts Society of Washington's outstanding performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, the words of which are in Latin and German.

The playbill provided a translation of the lyrics. Without such a translation — or without knowledge of the two languages in which the words if Carmina Burana was written — a listener might think that these are the words to "O Fortuna," the signature portion of Carmina Burana [SPEW ALERT!]:

Actual lyrics below the fold:


O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

A possible English translation:

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
and power
it melts them like ice.

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate is against me
in health
and virtue,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!


  1. No my, no my "A"! Why have there been over nine and a half million views before mine? Well I just may watch this repeatedly until the 10 million mark is crested. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. As one trained in choral music, I would never have heard these words. But I can see how someone might.

      Remember "There's a bathroom on the right" in CCR's "Bad Moon Rising"?

  2. That's funny. I love Carmina Burana. Gib De Varwe Mir sticks out as my favorite.

    To make matters worse, its not just in German, but Old German. Varwe = farbe = color in English. If I remember correctly, she's wanting red for her cheeks...

    1. Also, in the small word category, our daughter's first piano teacher grew up in WW II Germany. She knew Carl Orff, and one of Orff's wives taught her how to play piano.

  3. LOL - Mr. B and I could hardly stand up we were laughing so hard. He loves this piece and it's - ahem - changed forever for him. :)

    1. Baysider,
      One of our cats "sings" along with me when I sing to this video. The "gonorrhea" portion makes her meow loudly every time.

  4. My Flash Player went dark, again
    So I must sit this out in pain.


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