Question about a German or Pennsylvania Dutch Song

imageJanet Barnes sent me a video with a note asking for help with the song lyrics to a Pennsylvania Dutch or German song….

Here’s Janet’s note:

My mother has written down a song her father used to sing to her and I think it might be German. If not German, it would be Dutch. They were definitely Penn Dutch and I know there were 3 brothers that came over and were considered "low" Dutch. It could possibly be that my mother is remembering some of the words wrong, she is 83, and does not know any German.

Listen to Janet’s Mom Sing the Song

I’ve typed them phonetically in English and my comments or clarifications are in (). 

Oh dar (or der) tuben, der toben
Der clauss in der svoben (swoben)
mit a geegle, mit a gigle (long i)
mit a grosser bum bum
for roovel for raw (or forrah)
for roovel for raw
for roovel for rovel for roovel for raw
Mit a geele, mit a gigle
mit a grosser bum bum.

If you have any idea what this song is could you send me the correct words? I know the spelling is not correct as I am unsure of the actual words, only from what she could sing to me, but she doesn’t know the German language.

Thank you, Janet

If anyone can help with the original lyrics to this song and/or a translation, please let us know in the comments below.  We would also like to confirm the language or dialect of the song.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2012 at 2:57 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, German, German Children's Songs, Germany, Languages, Pennsylvania Dutch, Pennsylvania Dutch, Questions, Readers Questions, USA, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Responses to “Question about a German or Pennsylvania Dutch Song”

  1. David Solomons Says:

    Brings up a few thoughts:
    Seems to be about a band playing in the streets – possibly in Schwabia (Schwoben?),
    Toben could be the Modern High German word toben – to go wild, rollick around.
    “Giegel” might relate to the Middle High German word for a fool – ie perhaps someone playing the fool as the band goes through the streets.
    “Geigel” is probably a violin or fiddle and the “grosser bum bum” is probably the sound of the bass drum.

    – just a few clues, but they might help.

  2. Ruth Says:


    I am German and I don’t believe it is from Germany. It could always be a dialect that I don’t know but I think it is rather dutch than german.
    I hope you will find out!

  3. Susanne Aldridge III Says:

    I would love to help but all my googling with what I can possibly make out of it doesn’t help. At first I thought it’s definitely not German. Than I remembered my American husband who learned to sing “Oh Tannenbaum” as a child and there is not a single proper German word in it but it is just mimicking sounds. So, here is a guess for the first two lines – a guess at best, but maybe it can help someone else to make something of it:
    Da drüben da toben
    der Klaus in der ????
    Would love to help more, but that’s it

  4. Pam Says:

    My grandfather from Pennsylvania of German origin, used to say something like Kista manna kuchi…meaning give grandpa a kiss. I think this is a melting pot of dialects from the various Scandanavian countries that developed in America and what we know as Pennsylvania Dutch…which is supposed to be German…but I also know we had Swedish relatives as well…it is sad to lose these old family tunes and sayings…so you are lucky to have recorded it!

  5. ludwig hartmann Says:

    It sounds a little different to me:
    “die Buben die toben
    der Platz in der Stuben
    mit einer Giegel, einer Geige
    einer grossen Bum-Bum….”

    …The boys make noise (turn wild)
    in the room
    with a Giegel, a Geigel
    a big drum…

    Giegel is, also Geigel is “Geige” (violin) the “Giegel” is what is called Lautmalerei (playing with the sounds in a word)
    For the rest I do not have an explanation

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