Guten morgen, leute! So, today, I’m going to be doing an analysis of “Bring Him Home” / “Bring ihn Heim” from LES MISÉRABLES. For tomorrow, I’m planning on doing “Defying Gravity” / “Frei und Schwerelos” from WICKED! Anyways, let’s get into this, shall we? I absolutely adore this song, so I look forward to seeing how they compare and what different side of Valjean come out! Klar, los geht’s!
So, for this one, the titles are spot on, word-for-word identical to each other. “Bring ihn Heim” literally just means “Bring Him Home”. So, let’s just jump into the first stanza!
“God on high Hear my prayer In my need You have always been there. He is young He’s afraid Let him rest Heaven blessed. Bring him home Bring him home Bring him home.”
Here, we are shown that “Bring Him Home” is a prayer in the form of a song. We get to see a lot of Valjean’s faith in God in the words “In my need You have always been there.” This seems very characteristic of Valjean to me. After the incident with the Bishop and, in the book, after being smuggled into the convent, Valjean’s faith in God is a very, very prominent part of his character.
“Herr, mein Gott, hör mein Fleh’n. Steh mir bei, laß kein Unrecht gescheh’n. Er ist jung, laß ihn zieh’n. Hilf ihm auf, segne ihn. Bring ihn heim. Bring ihn heim. Bring ihn heim.” [Lord, my God, hear my plea. Stay with me, let nothing wrong be done. He is young, let him go. Help him, bless him. Bring him home. Bring him home. Bring him home.]
Here, one thing that I find really interesting, is that Valjean asks God to be with him directly in the German version whereas in the English version, it’s something more of a situation where Valjean’s saying “I trust that you will be there with me because you always have been.” Personally, that’s the biggest glaring difference between the two in this stanza. However, the things which Valjean asks in reference to Marius are a little different, but the feel is very much the same, I think.
“He’s like the son I might have known If God had granted me a son. The summers die One by one How soon they fly On and on And I am old And will be gone.”
Here, Valjean is, for the first time, seeing Marius as a son. It’s here that I really think we see Valjean come to terms with the fact that Cosette loves Marius and that Marius loves Cosette. It’s here that I feel he comes to be at peace with this knowledge. We also see Valjean’s realization that he is old whereas Marius is very young.
“Er rührt mich wie mein eigner Sohn, hätt’ Gott mir einen Sohn gewährt. Die Sommer flieh’n, unbeschwert verfliegen sie um mich her, und ich bin alt und bleib nicht mehr.” [He stirs me as if he were my own son, (yea) God has granted me a son. The summers fly, they fade carefree around me, and I am old and remain no more.]
Here, we get a really similar translation. The message is more or less the same. In both versions, Valjean recognizes Marius as a sort of son to him. We get Valjean’s observation that he is old and will soon be “gone”. Yet, one difference is, though, that in the English version, Valjean views Marius only like a son “if” God had granted him a son. However, in the German version, Valjean we see him giving thanks to God for granting him Marius as a son.
“Bring him peace Bring him joy He is young He is only a boy.”
This is the part in “Bring Him Home” that always gets me crying. Especially the “he is only a boy” part. There’s just something so heartbreaking, I think. But for the most part, this is a pretty simple, straightforward stanza.
“Laß ihn blüh’n, liebesblind. Segne ihn, er ist fast noch ein kind.” [Let him bloom, (let him) love blindly. Bless him, he is practically still a child.]
Now, here, I think we get something quite different (while remaining practically the same at the same time!). In the English version, Valjean asks for those things that one might generally ask. Peace, happiness. In the German version, Valjean puts a little bit more person into it, if you know what I mean. He asks for him to be able to bloom, meaning to grow up. He asks for him to be able to continue to love blindly (after all, it was Marius’s ability to blindly fall in love that led him to Cosette in the first place).
“You can take, You can give. Let him be, Let him live. If I die, let me die. Let him live. Bring him home Bring him home Bring him home.”
And here, we get the end to Valjean’s prayer. He begs God to protect Marius because he knows that He can. We also get to see Valjean’s willingness to lay down his life for Marius’s sake.
“Herr, du nimmst, Herr, du gibst, doch du schützt die du liebst. Meinen Leib geb ich hin, laß ihn zieh’n, bring ihn heim, bring ihn heim, bring ihn heim.” [Lord, You take. Lord, You give. And You protect whom you love. I give my body here, let him go, bring him home, bring him home, bring him home.]
It’s those little changes in words that make all the difference when it comes to the translation of this song. Instead of the “can” that Valjean uses in the English version, in the German version, Valjean says “You take. You give.” One thing that I really like in this German version is that Valjean doesn’t just beg God to “bring Marius home” but he also begs Him to protect him as well. And in both versions, we get to see Valjean’s willingness to sacrifice his life. However, in the English version he says “If I die, let me die.” In the German version, he says “I give my body here” as if he were expecting to die at the barricade.
While the translation was pretty spot on with “Bring Him Home”, I think that it was interesting how just one little word could change the whole entire tone and mood of the song. What do you think?
So, tomorrow, I’m planning on doing a song analysis of “Defying Gravity” / “Frei und Schwerelos” [Free and Weightless] from WICKED and that one will definitely be fun! The German translation is super beautiful and I think that it will be interesting to zero-in on it!
Other songs that I have on my list for this week (and maybe next week) are “On My Own” / “Nur Für Mich” [Only For Myself] from LES MIZ, “I Dreamed a Dream” / “Ich hab’ geträumt vor länger Zeit” [I Dreamed a Long Time Ago], and “The Phantom of the Opera” / “Das Phantom der Oper”! Do you have any other suggestions? Vielen dank und tschüss!