An Amish Children’s Song to the Tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”

Previously, I wrote about how my family and I toured the Amish country in Pennsylvania. While there, I was lucky enough to be put in contact with a young Amish lady (she may have been in her late teens) who was willing to give me an Amish song for Mama Lisa’s World, my site of children’s songs from around the world.

The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of German. They reject much of modern technology and they live somewhat apart from the outside world. They are a very private people, and I wasn’t sure how much it was appropriate for me to ask for.

The lady asked if I wanted a song like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which I’ll refer to herein as TTLS). I said that was exactly the type of song I was looking for. She said they had a song in Pennsylvania Dutch that’s to the tune of TTLS, but that is not a translation of it.

I told her that was not unusal. TTLS is well known all over the world. Some versions are direct translations from English, but some have totally different lyrics. For instance, the version from Spain is about a bell. Her eyes lit up and she was very interested.

I also told her how Mozart wrote classical music to the tune of TTLS. But she wasn’t familiar with Mozart.

Then the lady told me that the Amish learn their version in school. It’s in a little brown book they use. She asked me how many verses I’d like for her to write down. I told her as many as she’d like.

Well I admit I was a little nervous about scaring her away, as I’ve never engaged in a long conversation with an Amish person. I wanted to be honest about where I was using the song, how I was going to put the song on my web site. That led to an interesting little conversation about the web. Did she know about the internet? Yes she did. Had she ever been on it? No she hadn’t. But she was interested. I was afraid of saying too much. She did work with non-Amish people so she must have been somewhat used to people talking about the rest of the world. But I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries.

Finally, I told the lady that I usually thank people on my site for contributing songs. Would she like me to thank her, even using only her first name? Otherwise, I could post it from anonymous. She chose to remain anonymous. I’m still grateful for the experience of having spoken with her and that she spent the time with me and shared an Amish song with all of us on the internet!

Click the following link if you’d like to see the Amish Children’s Song that the young lady gave me.

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007 at 5:01 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Amish, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, German, Languages, Mama Lisa, Pennsylvania Dutch, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “An Amish Children’s Song to the Tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star””

  1. Monique Says:

    About the song, I’d like to add that we’d welcome any Pennsylvania Dutch speaker’s advice concerning the two first lines of the last verse. The lines are:

    “Diese kalte winder luft,
    mit enfindung gräft ruft”

    In standard German, nouns initials are capitalized so you’d always know whether a word is a noun or a verb. While in this version, some nouns initials are capitalized while some others aren’t and some words have a capitalized initial that they wouldn’t have in standard German. Then is “luft” a noun or a verb? “Die Luft” is “the air”, so “Diese kalte Winder Luft / mit enfindung gräft ruft” would be “This cold Winter air calls with mighty feelings” (that’s how I translated it), but “luft” is a verb that means “blows” (it blows) so, “Diese kalte winder luft / mit enfindung gräft ruft” might mean, “This cold Winter (He) blows / with mighty feelings (He) calls”, which would be in proper English something like “(He) blows this cold Winter (that He) calls with mighty feelings”.

    Any skilled linguist out there who specializes in Germanic dialects or simply someone who’s familiar with the intricacies of Pennsylvania Dutch who can help? We appreciate any help you can give us!

    -Monique

  2. Haakon Wiig Says:

    Thanks for nice pages. Our family visited WI and MI last summer. We lived for 12 days in Norway County, MI, in an old school house. The nabour next door was an Amish family whom we visited several times. It was nice to meat this family, to understand their way of living and so forth. We are amazed of how they can live so harmonic and well despite lack of electricity etc. We plan to make our own family film about this trip and the Amish life and are looking for an Amish song as a mp3 file etc. Do you have any link to a place we can get or purchase a CD or just s song.

    Best regards: Haakon and Unni Wiig, Brumunddal, Norway.

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Hey there.

    I am from Germany so I try to translate the first line of the song as I understand. Hope that is right.

    “Diese kalte winder luft,
    –> This cold, winter air

    I don’t really get the message in the second part… sorry.
    Hope this helps you.

    Take Care
    Jennifer

  4. Aleta Ellsworth Says:

    “Diese kalte winder luft,
    mit enfindung gräft ruft”

    The translation for the first line is: This cold winter air.
    The second line is more challenging.
    The word “enfindung” almost sounds like it means “to find” but I’m not sure. I think the word “gräft” might be strength or strong or power. The word “ruft” sounds like “calls” or “to call.”

    It could possibly mean that the cold winter wind calls out with a strength that is able to find or blow into every nook and cranny. But I’m just guessing.

  5. Jos Says:

    Verry nice song.
    I have attempt to make some adjustments.

    Greatings
    Jos

    In der Stillen Einsamkeit
    In the Still Isolation
    Children’s Song
    (Pennsylvania Dutch)
    Children’s Song
    (English)

    In der Stillen Einsamkeit,
    Findest du mein lob bereit
    Grosser Gott Erhöre mich,
    Denn mein Herze suche dich.

    Unveränderlich bisht du,
    nimmer still und doch in ruhe
    Yahreszeiten du regiersht,
    und sie ordenlich einführst.

    Diese kalte winder luft,
    mit enfindung gräft (kraft?) ruft
    Sehet welch ein starker Herr,
    Summer Winder machet er.

    In the still isolation (lonely)
    You find my praise ready
    Greater God hear me
    For my heart is seeking you.

    Unchangeable are You
    Never quiet but always calm
    You rule the yearly seasons
    And you set them in order. (to introduce them properly)

    This cold winter air
    Calls with mighty feeling. (calls with a strong detecting force)
    See what a mighty Lord,
    Summer and Winter He makes.

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