Wie singt man auf Deutsch, ‘Rule, Britannia’?*

Wie singt man auf Deutsch, ‘Rule, Britannia’?*


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2015

Word is tweeting out that the BBC has booked a German soloist for Last Night of the Proms.

No problem with that, until you get to the last number but one.

Not so much *how do you sing Rule, Britannia in German, as how does a German give credence to British rule?

Think of all those Unions Jacks.

Think what Angela Merkel will make of it.

Heavens above, she might even turn up.

last night of the proms


  • Hilary says:

    Jonas Kaufman one assumes, or Andreas Scholl.

  • Dave says:

    Andreas Scholl has appeared at LNOP before, so not the first time for a German soloist.

  • DESR says:

    How does a German give credence to British rule?

    Ask the Royal Family, it’s not too tricky.

  • Martin Locher says:

    When Deutschland first, at Heaven’s command
    Arose from out the azure main;
    This was the charter of the land,
    And guardian angels sang this strain:
    “Rule, Germania! rule the waves:
    “Germans never will be slaves.”

    You’re welcome 🙂

  • Simon S. says:

    Don’t British Soccer Fans wear t-shirts saying “Two World Wars and one World Cup”? 😀 And considering the fact that the last successful German invasion of Britain took place some 1,5k years ago, I would say yes, a German can give perfect credence to “Britons never will be slaves”.

    By the way, we do have songs of similar political and poetic value, though they are no longer considered pc. What about this:

    “Sie sollen ihn nicht haben
    den freien deutschen Rhein
    ob sie wie gierige Raben
    sich heiser danach schrein

    Sie sollen ihn nicht haben
    Den freien deutschen Rhein
    Bis seine Flut begraben
    Des letzten Manns Gebein”

    Though some Frenchman dared to respond: “Nous l’avons eu, votre Rhin allemand.” 😀

  • Tim Walton says:

    Just a small point they wave Union Flags NOT Jacks.

    It is only a Union Jack if it is attached to a ship.

    • Ray Richardson says:

      A very small point indeed, pernickity would be a more appropriate word, and though what you say may be correct etymologically, it certainly isn’t in usage. I remember 1950, the year of the Festival of Brittain, when as small children we all waved Union Jacks. Nobody I knew would have had dreamt of calling them Union Flags. In fact the first time I heard anyone call one a Union Flag was when Ma Thatcher came out with it once. She liked that kind of thing, Stadia was another one of hers.

      • Adam says:

        It’s actually only a Union Jack if its attached to a commissioned Royal Naval vessel – hence the term “Jack” meaning a matlow or Royal navy sailor….one who is in “The Andrew”

        Hence also the term “Jack-Shit”.. of which an awful lot is written by people on this forum whose egos are larger than their reading list.

        It’s rather like saying Forte is not really that different from Piano… well – it sort of is….

      • Tim Walton says:

        More people are better educated these days and have more respect for their country and get things right instead of showing their ignorance.

  • Emil Archambault says:

    Of course, no such problem when Renée Fleming or Joyce DiDonato, both American, sang the glory of Britannia and its navy…

  • Peter Phillips says:

    It’s about time that the whole tired, tawdry spectacle was consigned to the dust bin, to be joined possibly by the New Year’s Day concert in Vienna.

  • CDH says:

    What’s that asterisk referring to? Asterisks are usually one of a pair. I couldn’t find the other one.

  • George Porter says:

    He forgot the “pedant alert”.

  • mr oakmount says:

    Give credence to the words of “Rule Britannia”?
    I did not expect NL to believe that Britain ruled by God’s will 😉

  • mr oakmount says:

    And most Germans singers nowadays have a quite good accent. No “Britannia rule ze vaves” (and it would be marvellous if we could say the same about the Sixteen doing Bach).

  • Peter says:

    The day homo sapiens realizes that ethnicity and particularly nationality are mental constructs, as is its archetypical foundation, tribalism, and that we are all the same people only in individual varieties will be a great day. Probably the best day in the history of mankind.

    Last night I drove with a Muslim taxi driver in Paris of obviously Arabic descent and he said: “In a few years we will be so many, we can take over the world.” “Which car are you going to drive then, once you have taken over everything, an Iranian ‘Peykar’ model?” I asked him. He remained silent behind his Mercedes steering wheel, his iPhone lying on the dashboard…

  • Stereo says:

    Well said,and our government is handing UK on a plate to them. Oh sorry can’t upset the Muslims can we. There won’t be any Rule Britannia then.

  • Pauline Stroud says:

    I really think that it should be a Briton up there singing Rule Britannia. Not a German, for goodness sake. What’s it all about?? There, said it.