Track of the Day: ‘Ode to Joy’ (Anthem of Europe)

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Becky, a reader who recommended a Yeats poem for our roundup of consoling poetry, sends a follow-up note:

Thank you. The article and poems really are helpful in figuring out how to think about it all. I am sure others find that not only poetry, but literature and music, help us with the sudden shock of the Nov. 8 election results.

For instance, in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, the character Eben Ramsey explains how the beauty of Shakespeare’s words in Antony and Cleopatra helped him think about the German occupation of Guernsey:

Do you know what sentence of his I admire the most? It is “The bright day is done, and we are for the dark.”

I wish I’d known those words on the day I watched those German troops land, plane-load after plane-load of them—and come off ships down the harbor! All I could think of was damn them, damn them, damn them, over and over. If I could have thought the words, “the bright day is done and we are for the dark,” I’d have been consoled somehow and ready to go out and contend with circumstance—instead of my heart sinking to my shoes.

For music, I find hope in the Anthem of Europe, which is based on the “Ode to Joy,” from the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Sympathy.

The European Union has posted the lyrics to that anthem along with its official video here. But Becky recommends the rendition embedded below, and I can see why—the growing crowd of people singing along to the refrain “All men become brothers” has me tearing up a little:

(Submit a song via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)