Little little boy

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Hänschen klein is a German folk and children's song whose roots go back to the 19th century.


The original version of the text Hänschen klein comes from the Dresden teacher Franz Wiedemann (1821–1882), who published the text in 1860 in the appendix “Old songs, new words” to the 4th edition of his collection of seeds for children's hearts . The motif is similar to the poem Das Erkennen (1835) by Johann Nepomuk Vogl (1802–1866), in which a wanderer ultimately returns to his mother.

The educational text enables children to experience human closeness, saying goodbye, the pain of separation and rediscovery. In the spirit of the Biedermeier period , preference is given to domestic security. As in all of Franz Wiedemann's works, the aim of the poem is to convey the prevailing norms of the bourgeois society of that time to a young generation.

The original text did not deal with a running away toddler, but a young man who goes out into the world to try his luck (cf. the proverb "What Hans never learns, Hans never learns"). The original text describes the boy's detachment from his mother as part of growing up and the return as a grown man. Hans becomes Hans. The mother lets him go in spite of her own grief, then recognizes him as a man on his return and meets him with love.

Since the end of the 19th century, the song has been widely used in a text version that arose from the contraction of Wiedemann's first two stanzas. Although the wording of the remaining parts of the text was hardly changed, the shortening changed the plot decisively: Hans does not return as a grown man, but thinks about his return immediately after leaving. The newer version has practically reversed the content, because the attempted process of separation from the mother does not succeed. The mother is sad about the departure, Hanschen (the boy) stays there and may never become Hans (the man). The version appears for the first time - with a different melody - by Ernst Schmid . When Otto Frömmel , 1900 printed without melody, it also includes a new second verse, which the song as moving Singspiel makes performable. It is not certain whether this repositioning was intentionally written by Schmid, Frömmel or another editor, or whether it was “sung about ” by the vernacular ; Frommel states in the preface that he collected the nursery rhymes in the Berlin area.

An analogy to the biblical parable of the prodigal son ( Lk 15 : 11-32  EU ) is sometimes seen in sermons .


\ relative c '' {g4 e4 e2 |  f4 d4 d2 |  c4 d4 e4 f4 |  g4 g4 g2 |  g4 e4 e2 |  f4 d4 d2 |  c4 e4 g4 g4 |  c, 1 |  d4 d4 d4 d4 |  d4 e4 f2 |  e4 e4 e4 e4 |  e4 f4 g2 |  g4 e4 e2 |  f4 d4 d2 |  c4 e4 g4 g4 |  c, 1 \ bar "|."} \ addlyrics {Hänschen klein |  went alone |  into the distance |  World out - one.  |  Stick and hat |  suit him well, |  is well - courageous.  |  But about mother |  knows very well |  now has no |  Häns - chen more!  |  Thoughtful |  the child, |  runs home quickly.  }

An early evidence of the melody is a written down as a dance melody in a musical manuscript and dated: "Heinrich Nicol Philipp zu Seibis den 30 Junius 1784".

The hunting song Jägerlust (“Drive there”), printed by Johann Gustav Gottlieb Büsching and Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen (1807), is sung to this melody . Büsching and von der Hagen state: "The melody, like the song, is very well known in the local area [= Berlin] [...]". In the Deutsches Liederhort , Ludwig Erk and Franz Magnus Böhme write : “The song may have been written at the beginning of the 18th century.” Erk and Böhme also report that the melody “should be of French origin, which would not be impossible, as there are also many hunting customs came from France ”. In Franz Wiedemann's first print by Hänschen klein , the song has the note “Mel [odie]: Fahret hin etc.” The text was therefore intended by its poet from the beginning for the melody on which it is sung to this day.

The text Alles Neu macht der Mai , written by Hermann Adam von Kamp (1796–1867) in 1818 and published in 1829 , is sung to the tune.

Furthermore, the song Turner ziehn , written by Hans Ferdinand Maßmann in 1814 , was sung to the same melody.

Original text (Franz Wiedemann)

Franz Wiedemann: Hänschen and his mother , 1877

Little little boy , goes alone
into the wide world,
stick and hat
looks good on him, is also good-hearted.
But mother cries a lot,
now she has no baby anymore.
Wish you luck, says her look,
just come back soon!

For many years, cloudy and clear,
Hans has been away from home.
Then the child thinks about it,
Go home quickly.
Yes, now it's no longer a little boy,
no, he's a big Hans;
Burned black forehead and hand.
Will he be recognized?

One, two, three pass by,
don't know who that might be.
Sister says: What a face!
Doesn't know the brother.
So when his mother comes,
hardly looks him in the eye,
she already calls out: Hans! My son!
Howdy God, my son!

The text of the third stanza can also be found (in a slightly different form) in a children's game from the 19th century.

Awareness today (since the end of the 19th century)

The song in its repackaged version was very often one of the first songs ever to be taught to children in the whole of German-speaking countries. Text versions that are customary today have been sung further compared to the version from 1900:

Text version by Ernst Schmid (1891)

Little Hans, all alone
wants to go into the world!
Stick and hat
look good on him, he 's also good-natured.
But the mother cries a lot,
now she doesn't have a baby anymore.
So the child
thinks about it , turns around quickly.

Text version by Otto Frömmel (1900)

Circle: Little little boy goes out
into the wide world alone ,
stick and hat dresses well,
walks happily,
but mom cries a lot,
now has no little little boy anymore.
Then the child
recollects, returns quickly.

Hänschen: Dear 'Mama, I'm here,
says the Hänschen, hopsasa,
Believe me, stay here,
don't leave yourself anymore.
Circle: Mama is very happy,
And the little boy even more;
Because, as you know, it is
so beautiful with her.

Text common today

Hänschen klein went out
into the wide world alone .
Stick and hat
look good on him, he is very happy.
But mother cries a lot,
now she doesn't have a baby anymore.
Then the child thinks about it and
runs home quickly.

In today's usage songbooks, there is no clear preference for a particular text version. There are both the single-verse version as well as the three-verse original by Franz Wiedemann and the two-verse version by Otto Frömmel. Some songbooks also print a mixed version in which the verse of the single verse version is followed by the second and third verse of Wiedemann's original.


The song's popularity resulted in numerous parodies. For example, a Berlin variant was common among children :

Hänschen klein
went to a
gymnastics club in Berlin alone .
Doing gymnastics on the horizontal bar,
falling in the dirt,
his nose is gone.
When Doctor Jumping Jack comes, the nose
sticks with spit.
Hänschen klein
is very happy and
now has one more nose.

Since the melody at the end leaves the word “more” unstressed (“Náse more” is a dactylus ), to the delight of others, newcomers sometimes did not understand the meaning immediately.

The same parody has been passed down with other regional references, e.g. B. from Schrems in Lower Austria .

In Hebrew

In the first half of the 20th century in pre-state Israel (in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine ), the Vilna- born writer Yisrael Duschmann wrote a Hebrew version of Hänschen in small letters . The song (Hebrew: Jonatan HaKatan ) is today the most famous children's song in Israel .

However, nothing of the original content has survived in Hebrew. Translated the song is:

Little Jonathan
ran to kindergarten in the morning.
He climbed the tree
and looked for chicks.
Woe to the naughty: there is
a big hole in his pants.
He rolled down from the tree
and got his punishment.


Hänschen klein was presumably the first song that was played by a computer - the Zuse Z22  . For this reason it has found its way into the German dubbed version of Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey , where it is sung by the on-board computer HAL 9000 when it is deactivated. Hänschen klein is also part of the title melody of the film Steiner - The Iron Cross .

The melody of Hänschen klein is also used for very well-known children's songs in Japan (蝶 々, Chocho) and Korea (나비야, Nabiya).

Web links

Commons : Hänschen klein  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Audio samples

Guitar arrangement of a simple, folk song, and a syncopated version of the song

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Frenz Wiedemann: Seeds for children's hearts: as a basis for the first religious instruction, arranged according to the ten commandments and the Christian holidays, together with an appendix of small songs based on well-known, easy melodies, for children from 6 to 8 years. 10th edition. Dietze, Dresden 1877, p. 137 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  2. Barbara Boock: Children's song books 1770-2000. An annotated, illustrated bibliography (= folk song studies. Volume 8). Waxmann, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8309-1819-6 , p. 91 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  3. ^ Johann Nepomuk Vogl: Ballads and Romances. Volume 1, Wallishausser, Vienna 1835, p. 21 f. ( Digitized in the Google book search).
  4. ^ Johann Nepomuk Vogl: The recognition
  5. Elmar Drieschner: Educational goal "independence" . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-15437-4 , pp. 233 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  6. ^ A b Ernst Schmid: Kindergarten-Lieder: a collection of new occasional, play and Koselieder for the tender age: for use in school and family. 3. Edition. J. Klinkhardt, Leipzig / Vienna 1891, p. 123 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  7. ^ A b Eduard Frömmel: Children's rhymes. Songs and games. Second issue. Eduard Avenarius, Leipzig 1900, p. 62 f. ( Text archive - Internet Archive ).
  8. ^ Margot Runge: Sermon for confirmation on Luke 15, 11-31 , March 5, 2012, accessed on May 22, 2017.
  9. Christoph Simonsen: "Hänschen klein went out into the big wide world alone" , Catholic University Community Aachen September 11, 2016, accessed on May 22, 2017.
  10. Manuscript, inscribed and dated: "Heinrich Nicol Philipp zu Seibis den 30 Junius 1784", archive of Haus Marteau, Lichtenberg (Upper Franconia), p. 26. Partial reprint of the manuscript in: Erwin Zachmeier (Ed.): Die Notenhandschrift des Heinrich Nicol Philipp. 2nd Edition. District of Upper Franconia, Bayreuth 1986.
  11. Johann Gustav Gottlieb Büsching, Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen: Collection of German folk songs . Melody booklet. Braunes, Berlin 1807, p. 11 ( digitized in the Google book search).
  12. Johann Gustav Gottlieb Büsching, Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen: Collection of German folk songs . Braunes, Berlin 1807, p. 387 ( digitized in the Google book search).
  13. Ludwig Erk, Franz Magnus Böhme: German song library . Volume 3, 1894, p. 318 (digitized version)
  14. "Everything new in May", music: trad. (18th century), text: Hermann Adam von Kamp (1829). Retrieved September 2, 2010 .
  15. Turner happily go there (Turner's hiking trip)
  16. ^ Franz Magnus Böhme: Popular songs of the Germans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig 1895, p. 406 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  17. August Ernst Köhler : Popular custom, superstition, sagas and other old traditions in Voigtlande . Fleischer, Leipzig 1867 ( digitized in the Google book search).
  18. a b Walter Hansen: The great house book of folk songs. Mosaik, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-570-02232-3 , p. 132.
  19. ^ Ernst Klusen : German songs. Texts and melodies. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-458-04855-2 , p. 727.
  20. Ernst Klusen: The most beautiful children's songs and nursery rhymes. Naumann & Göbel, Cologne undated [1987], ISBN 3-625-10721-X , p. 139.
  21. Bernd Pachnicke: German folk songs. Edition for voice and guitar. 8th edition. Verlag Neue Musik, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-7333-0027-0 , p. 40.
  22. ^ Hermann Drews: What children like to sing. Südwest, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-517-07833-6 , p. 82.
  23. Friedhilde Trüün, Andreas Mohr (Ed.): Children's songs. Carus / Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-89948-160-0 , p. 96.
  24. Heinrich Zelton: German folk songs. Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 1988, ISBN 3-7959-0555-9 , p. 43 f.
  25. Ingeborg Weber-Kellermann : The book of children's songs (= series music 8370). 2nd Edition. Schott, Mainz 2010, ISBN 978-3-254-08370-8 , pp. 74 f.
  26. Theo Mang, Sunhilt Mang (ed.): Der Liederquell . Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2007, ISBN 978-3-7959-0850-8 , pp. 677 f .
  27. Heinz Rölleke (Ed.): The folk song book . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1993, ISBN 3-462-02294-6 , pp. 347 .
  28. Lukas Richter: Mother, the man with the coke is here. Berlin hit songs. 2nd Edition. VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1977, p. 119.
  29. ^ Anton Hofer (author), Walter Deutsch (ed.): Sprüche, Spiele and Lieder der Kinder (= Corpus musicae popularis Austriacae , vol. 16). Böhlau, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-205-98857-4 , p. 71 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  30. Hebrew text by Yisrael Duschmann (©)
  31. Short biography of Yisrael Duschmann
  32. Web Examples: Performances: Video on YouTube , Video on YouTube , Video on YouTube , with Hebrew text on YouTube
  33. Horst Zuse - Homepage
  34. Stefan Höltgen: HAL 9000 and the Z22 . SimulationsRaum, April 20, 2010.
  35. International versions