Helan Går is a popular Swedish drinking song, or snapsvisa. Helan ("the whole") is an expression signifying the first (small) glass of spirit (commonly akvavit or vodka) in a series, and går means "goes (down)"; loosely translated as, "Bottoms up!" Thus, it is commonly sung as a toast, typically for the first glass of spirit at a seated dinner. The song has also become quite common in Finland, especially at academic dinners. 

The song's origin is uncertain because it is rarely noted in historical documents.  One early mention occurs in an operetta in 1843. Several composers have written variations of the melody, including Franz Lehár. In 1959 The Belafonte Folk Singers recorded Heylan Går on the album Drinking Songs Around The World RCA LSP1992. The song, in an instrumental version under the title Helan, is present as a ringtone on some Nokia mobile phones, possibly as a nod to Nokia's Nordic (Finnish) heritage. It is Sweden's theme in Civilization VI.

The song was brought to the Virginia Glee Club as a drinking song by Marcus Hagegård in 1993-1994. Originally only sung at social occasions, it was occasionally sung in concert settings as well. Because Hagegård taught the piece to the Club "by ear," he is credited with the Club's arrangement of the song.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]


Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar* 
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
(Drink)
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

*In the classic version, "trår" is used instead of "tar". "Tar" is modernized, and doesn't rhyme.

English version[edit | edit source]


Here's the first
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la la la"
Here's the first
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"
He who doesn't drink the first
Shall never, ever quench his thirst
Here's the first
[drink]
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"

A more verbatim translation might be:


The whole goes down
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la la la"
The whole goes down
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"
And he who doesn't take the whole
Doesn't get the half either
The whole goes down
[drink]
Sing "hup fol-de-rol la la"

The phonetic version for English speakers who want to sing in Swedish:


Hey-lan gore
Hung hop father lala lala lay
Hey-lan gore
Hung hop father lala lay
Oh then some in the hey-lan tar
Han hell eh in the hall van fore
Hey-lan goooooore
[drink]
Hung hop father lala laaaay

The half, or "halvan" in the lyrics above refer to the name traditionally given to the second snaps. The meaning is therefore "the one who doesn't drink the first snaps won't get the second one either"

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

== References (Swedish) ==
*Christina Mattsson, Helan går. 150 visor till skålen, Atlantis, 2002.
*Christina Mattsson, Från Helan till lilla Manasse, Atlantis, 2002.

{{Wikipedia:Helan Går}}

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