German Advent word of the day: Süßer die Glocken nie klingen

Only a few days until Christmas! The angelic melody and beautiful lyrics of this song will immediately tune you into the feeling of Christmas Day, as if it were here already.

German Advent word of the day: Süßer die Glocken nie klingen
Photo: DPA

What does it mean?

The song “Süßer die Glocken nie klingen” translates to sweeter the bells never ring or the bells never sound sweeter, and is about the lovely sound of the bells that ring during Christmas time, and the effect that they have on everyone.

Here's the lyrics and a video:

“Süßer die Glocken nie klingen

Als zu der Weihnachtszeit

grad, als ob Engelein singen

Wieder von Friede und Freud'

Wie sie gesungen in heiliger Nacht

Wie sie gesungen in heiliger Nacht

Glocken, mit heiligem Klang

Klinget die Erde entlang

Und wenn die Glocken dann klingen

Gleich sie das Christkindlein hört

Tut sich vom Himmel dann schwingen

Eilet hernieder zur Erd'

Segnet den Vater, die Mutter, das Kind

Segnet den Vater, die Mutter, das Kind

Glocken mit heiligem Klang

Klinget die Erde entlang


Klinget mit lieblichem Klange

Über die Meere noch weit

Dass sich erfreuen doch alle

Seliger Weihnachtszeit

Alle dann jauchzen mit frohem Gesang

Alle dann jauchzen mit frohem Gesang

Glocken mit heiligem Klang

Klinget die Erde entlang”

The first verse depicts the sound of the bells and that the they never sound more beautiful than during the Christmas time: Their angelic ring of peace and bliss, and the holy sound that is sung and should be sung on the holy night.

The last two lines of each verse “Glocken mit heiligem Klange klinget die Erde entlang” means that the holy sound of the bells should travel throughout the world. It is basically a demand that they should ring.

The second verse describes that when the bells ring the Christ Child immediately hears them and descends to earth, to bless father, mother, and child.

The final verse portrays that everyone delights from the lovely ring of the bells that sounds far over the oceans, and that they cheer with happy singing during this  blessed Christmas time.

What is the history behind this song?

The Protestant theologian and pedagogue Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger (1816-1890) wrote this song in 1826 to the melody of an old Thuringian folk song.

As people were familiar to the melody of this song, “Süßer die glocken nie klingen” soon became popular.

By the end of the 19th century it could be found in various songbooks.

Germans sing this song yearly, but many have questioned the meaning of its lyrics.

The bells are described as “süß” (sweet) which usually refers to taste, but in the Middle Ages it also meant holy.

Which explains the usage of “süß” as holy bells are better fitting for Christmas and especially the Christian meaning behind Christmas than sweet bells.

Overall, the bells operate as messengers, as their ring travels widely through the air carrying their sound- the message.

They represent the spreading of the Christmas Spirit, and symbolize the joyful anticipation for Christmas and the holiness of Christmas itself.

So listen to the song and join in the Christmas Spirit.

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German word of the day: Los

This tiny German word has a huge range of meanings.

German word of the day: Los

Why do I need to know los?

Because it’s a very common word in spoken German which crops up everywhere, from yoga classes to unemployment offices. We explain how it’s used below. 

What does it mean?

The word los has a wide variety of uses in the German language – it can be a noun, adjective, adverb, interjection, as well as a prefix and a suffix.

As an adjective it means “loose” in English and is used to describe something not firmly or tightly fixed in place. This is the kind of los you’re most likely to encounter in everyday life. If a German friend asks you why you’re looking a bit down, for example, they’ll probably say:

Was ist mit dir los?

This literally means “what’s loose with you?” but is used to mean “what’s up”?

Similarly, if there’s some commotion on the street outside your office, a German colleague might ask:

Was ist da los?

What’s up there?

Los is also commonly used as an exclamation, meaning “Go!”

Riders hold their grips on the steering wheel at the start of the second stage of the Tour de France in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/BELGA | Pool

At the start of a race, for example, instead of “On your marks – get set – Go!” you’ll hear auf die Plätze – fertig – Los!

You’ll also hear this type of los as a general encouragement or as an order to someone to make a move:

Worauf wartest du? Los!

What are you waiting for? Go!

Los as a prefix and suffix

When it appears at the beginning of a verb, los expresses the idea of starting or going. The verb losgehen, for example, means “to get going”, while loslassen  – a favourite of German yoga teachers – means “to let go”.

When it appears at the end of a word, however, -los has a similar meaning to the English suffix “-less,” such as nutzlos (useless), harmlos (harmless) and arbeitslos (jobless).

Los as a noun

As a noun, das Los has a very different definition and means “fate” or “lot”. Stemming from this meaning, das Los is also a common word for “lottery ticket” in German.