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Exploring 'Gaudeamus Igitur': A Song of Youth and Reflection

Philosophical Reflections and Cultural Significance of 'Gaudeamus Igitur

By Dimas Seti AdityaPublished about a month ago 4 min read

Gaudeamus igitur,

Iuvenes dum sumus.

Post iucundam iuventutem,

Post molestam senectutem

Nos habebit humus.

Nos habebit humus.

Vivat academia,

Vivant professores.

Vivat membrum quodlibet,

Vivant membra quaelibet,

Semper sint in flore.

Semper sint in flore.”

If you have ever attended a college graduation ceremony, you have likely heard this song. Yes, this song titled “Gaudeamus Igitur” or “So Let Us Rejoice” is a song that must be sung during the graduation ceremony.

Origins and Meaning

Historically, the song Gaudeamus Igitur, also commonly referred to as Gaudeamus, was initially found in a Latin manuscript from the year 1287, within the carpe diem (seize the day) tradition, containing the phrase “Gaudeamus igitur, Iuvenes dum sumus” (let us therefore rejoice, while we are young). In the 18th century, specifically in 1781, a German composer, Christian Wilhelm Kindleben (1745-1785), composed this song, which later became used as a graduation song worldwide.

Cultural and Academic Significance in Indonesia

In Indonesia, there is no certainty as to when this song began to be used in graduation ceremonies. However, during the Dutch colonial period in the Dutch East Indies (the name for Indonesia before independence in 1945), the Dutch colonial administration brought many European traditions, including cultural traditions and the use of the song Gaudeamus in educational ceremonies, including graduations at universities established by the Dutch colonial government, such as Technische Hoogeschool te Bandoeng (Bandung Institute of Technology), which began using the song Gaudeamus in graduation ceremonies in 1920. After Indonesia gained independence on August 17, 1945, the song Gaudeamus continued to be used in graduation ceremonies at several universities in Indonesia. Today, almost all higher education institutions in Indonesia use the song Gaudeamus Igitur as a hymn sung during graduation ceremonies.

Themes of the Song

The song Gaudeamus itself carries a meaning that encourages young people to enjoy their youth. Enjoyment here is not just about having fun but also about making the most of their youth with useful things, as their youth will not last long, nor will life in this world, because one day, they will leave this mortal life. Here is an explanation of the song Gaudeamus Igitur:

1. Gaudeamus igitur, Iuvenes dum sumus.

(Let us therefore rejoice, While we are young)

The song begins with a call to rejoice while still young. It highlights the vitality, joy, and freedom associated with youth, encouraging students to enjoy this period of their lives.

2. Post iucundam iuventutem, post molestam senectutem.

Nos habebit humus. Nos habebit humus.

(After a pleasant youth, after a troubling old age

The earth will have us. The earth will have us)

This part of the lyrics warns that youth is temporary, while old age and death are inevitable. This theme serves as a reminder for young people to appreciate and make the most of their youth now.

3. Vivat academia, Vivant professores.

Vivat membrum quodlibet, Vivant membra quaelibet,

Semper sint in flore. Semper sint in flore

(Long live the academy, long live the professors.

Long live each student, long live all the students,

May they always flourish. May they always flourish)

This part of the song contains praise and respect for the academic community, including the university, professors, and students, thus strengthening the sense of belonging and mutual respect within the academic environment.

After discussing the history and meaning of the song Gaudeamus Igitur, I am interested in exploring the connection between this song, lifestyle of young people and life achievement.

Gaudeamus Igitur: A Celebration of Youth and Life Achievement

Ecclesiastes 11 : 9 : Biblical Wisdom on Youthful Living

From the Book of Ecclesiastes, verse 11 : 9 provides spiritual guidance to young individuals:

"Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."

Spiritual and Moral Context

Ecclesiastes advises youth to find joy in their youthfulness while acknowledging the accountability of their actions before a higher power. This biblical perspective adds depth to the secular celebration found in "Gaudeamus Igitur," blending philosophical reflection with moral introspection.

Carpe Diem : Seizing Opportunities and Living Fully

Derived from Horace's poetry, "carpe diem" advocates for seizing the present moment and enjoying life's pleasures without excessive worry about the future.

Philosophical Underpinnings

Central to "carpe diem" is the belief in making the most of youthful vigor and spontaneity. This philosophy resonates with the celebratory ethos of "Gaudeamus Igitur," encouraging graduates and young people alike to embrace life's opportunities with enthusiasm.

Hedonism Among Youth : Pleasure-Seeking and Its Implications

Contrasting with the balanced approach of "carpe diem," hedonism prioritizes immediate pleasure and personal gratification.

Cultural Critique and Considerations

While hedonism promotes enjoyment, it can neglect long-term consequences and ethical considerations. Its divergence from the reflective themes in "Gaudeamus Igitur" prompts discussion on responsible living and ethical awareness among youth.

Soft Skills : Nurturing Personal and Professional Growth

In contemporary education and professional settings, soft skills — such as communication, teamwork, adaptability, and leadership — are essential for personal development and career success.

Practical Applications and Importance

Soft skills complement academic achievements by fostering effective communication, collaboration, and resilience. They equip youth with the competencies needed to navigate diverse environments and contribute meaningfully to society.

Youth Life and Motivation to Spend Youth Wisely

Youth is a transformative period marked by exploration, identity formation, and aspiration. How youth spend this crucial phase influences personal development and future trajectories.

Challenges and Opportunities

Navigating academic pursuits, career decisions, and personal relationships define youth's journey. "Gaudeamus Igitur," with its celebration of youth and reflection on life's brevity, encourages graduates to approach these challenges with purpose and integrity.


"Gaudeamus Igitur" serves as more than a ceremonial song; it embodies profound narratives of youth, academic pursuit, and existential reflection. By juxtaposing its themes with biblical wisdom, philosophical musings, and practical considerations, we gain insights into the diverse perspectives that shape youth's experiences and motivations. Whether sung at graduations or pondered in philosophical discourse, its verses continue to inspire contemplation on seizing opportunities, fostering personal growth, and navigating the complexities of life with wisdom and purpose.


About the Creator

Dimas Seti Aditya

An insightful writer, delving into human behavior with empathy and depth.

My diverse interests shine through in engaging storytelling that inspires growth.

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    Dimas Seti AdityaWritten by Dimas Seti Aditya

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