Ode to Joy (Himno a la alegría)

Music piece by:
original by Friedrich von Schiller (lyrics) and Ludwig van Beethoven (music). Free version in Spanish by Amado Regueiro Rodríguez, aka Orbe (lyrics) y Waldo de los Ríos (music), popularised in Chile by Miguel Ríos.
Testimony by:
Renato Alvarado Vidal

Once upon a time, there was a good little wolf. … No. That’s another story.

Once upon a time, there was a political prisoner in Chile. This one was a very badly behaved prisoner. He had been the protagonist of – and punished for – an escape attempt (it was only a misunderstanding) and a doctors’ strike (he was a physician) among other misdemeanours.

Arturo and he were in charge of updating and showing a map of Vietnam to their comrades, keeping them informed of the progress of the liberation.

The matter is that he had experienced all the dictatorship’s dungeons - from Conrado Pacheco's hole beneath the basement stairs at Tres Álamos to the wooden boxes of Villa Grimaldi's 'The Tower'Former water tank in Villa Grimaldi, where brutal torture was applied. Many detained-disappeared were last seen alive there.. From there he was now being brought back and was being placed in one of DINA(National Intelligence Directorate) Secret police of Pinochet’s dictatorship between 1974 and 1977.'s cells in Cuatro Álamos.

For the first time in many days, he was in front of a window, albeit one that had solid cross-bars, allowing only the sight of a grey wall facing it. But it was a window nonetheless, and he could not stop looking through it as they were taking the chains off his hands.

Once he was left alone and recovered the use of his hands, the first thing he did was open that window. At that moment the warm air of Santiago's autumn came into the cell at the same time as the 'Ode to Joy', casually intoned by the prisoners of the adjacent prison section.

…Listen, brother, to the song of joy...

And of course, I listened to it, and I sang it. I am a dreadful singer. Once, at Puchuncaví concentration camp, they noticed that out of 320 singers I was the one singing the National Anthem out of tune. But at this moment I sang, I joined my comrades’ chorus with all my might, and I sang, I sang away all my joy at staying alive and still being on my feet.


Published on: 24 October 2015

Listen, brother
to the song of joy
the joyful song that awaits
a new day.

Come, sing, dream, singing
live singing the new sun
under which men
will once again be brothers.

If in your path only sadness exists
and the bitter cry
of total solitude
come, sing, dream, singing
live dreaming the new sun
under which men
will once again be brothers.

If you don’t find joy
in this land
search for it, brother
beyond the stars.

Come, sing, dream, singing
live dreaming the new sun
under which men
Once again will be brothers.