Patriotic Chinese Kindergarten Kungfu — lyrics & video for 精忠报国 by 屠洪纲

Our 4-year-old goes to an all-Chinese preschool, where I also teach. We’re the only foreigners. The 5 and 6-year-olds do this as a regular exercise routine:

It’s a song about complete devotion and loyalty to China, which in English could be “Dedication and Loyalty to the Country” or “Serve the Country with Utmost Loyalty”. The title is a reference to famous historical-mythical General Yue Fei’s tattoo. He was traitorously executed and posthumously has come to epitomize loyalty to China. The Wikipedia article is worth a read, as this song has all kinds of historical/cultural associations.

Here’s the mp3 and Chinese lyrics (mouseover for pronunciation!) with English translation (mostly someone else’s). Music videos here (youtube) and here (youku).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

报国 by 洪纲

狼烟江山
The fire beacon rises, look toward the rivers and mountains of the north

Dragons’ puffs and horses’ neighs are like blows of a frosted sword
黄河茫茫
Hearts as boundless as the water of the Yellow River
二十纵横
Who defies the length and breadth of the past twenty years?

Wild hatred where my sword points
多少手足
Countless brothers, loyal souls, bones buried in unfamiliar lands

What regret is it to die a hundred times protecting family and country?
叹惜无语血泪
Enduring sighs of regret, speechless, tears of blood fill the eyes
马蹄
Horses’ hooves go south, the people look toward the north
青黄飞扬
Toward the north the grass yellows, dust flying up
守土开疆
I’m willing to guard this territory and re-claim the land
堂堂中国四方
Grand China will make all sides bring tribute

Some interesting notes on this song here:

Many people in the west believe that Chinese are in general motivated by an irrational nationalism cultivated by the communist party to secure its political hold on the country. This is why some of the protests by Chinese nationals overseas have been labeled as “rebirth of the red guards”. Personally, I think this misunderstanding reflects a lack of knowledge about Chinese history, which in the thousand years past have been filled with foreign invasions and civil wars. We Chinese are peace lovers, but our own history has taught us that unification as a country, especially in the face of foreign threats has always been the prerequisite for a peaceful life.

This music video is by the singer Tu HongGang, who was trained as a Beijing opera singer, but turned into a pop singer in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The song is entitled 精忠报国, which translates to ‘dedication and loyalty to the country,’ or ‘serve the country with the utmost loyalty.’ The phrase by itself originates from the story of Yue Fei, “a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty. Since his political execution by the traitor Qin Hui, Yue Fei has evolved into the standard model of loyalty in Chinese culture.” According to legends, his mother tattooed these four characters across his back before he left home to join the army in 1122. More on his story can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yue_Fei

Note the first picture on the right, which shows the statue of Yue Fei, from the Yue Fei Mausoleum in Hangzhou. The four characters on his banner say, Huan Wo He Shan , or “Give back my rivers and mountains”.

I love the song (and the singer!) very much, I feel it echoes much of the patriotism which Chinese holds as part of our cultural identity.

More Chinese music (many with lyrics & guitar chords!):

Chinese New Year:

Christmas:

KTV!

So I’m in this Chinese girl band…

I’m not just a Chinese preschool rockstar; I now have a band. A girl band. A Chinese girl band. A Chinese girl band composed entirely of preschool teachers. And we are not above using the electric piano’s preprogrammed auto-chording rhythm feature thingy.

Working for a Chinese company gives opportunities to perform — and I mean like song-and-dance perform — that you typically don’t get at the average North American job. For example, at the year-end banquet it’s common for every department in a company to put on some sort of performance. Lots of singing along to pop tracks at the very least. It’s actually more of an obligation than an opportunity; it means bad vibes if you cry off participating.

Chinese love karaoke (KTV). They practice beforehand, and when they go they’ll easily stay for four, five or six hours singing the cheesiest pop lyrics and melodies you can imagine. And the practice shows. Have whatever stereotype of mild-mannered, bespectacled bookworm Chinese you want, but you haven’t seen China until you’ve seen said bespectacled office drones rocking out in a KTV lounge like they are the Chinese incarnation of Whitney Houston. It’s not what you’d expect from the impressions and stereotypes that float around, but in my experience the average Chinese tends to be less inhibited than the average cripplingly self-conscious and cool-anxious, irony-plagued North American when it comes to public performance.

Our school has a New Year’s Show, a Children’s Day Show, and a Teacher Show — those are the one’s I’ve discovered so far anyway. And it’s normal for teachers and parents to be involved in a couple performances even for the kids’ shows.

So here’s the song and lyrics some of my coworkers picked to cover for the Teacher Show (performed for the parents and grandparents of our 200+ students) — our first and most likely final performance. :)

相信 by


(Better quality version here.)

想飞上天和太阳肩并肩 / xiǎng fēishàng tiān hé tàiyáng jiānbìngjiān
Want to fly up to heaven and be shoulder to shoulder with the sun

世界等着我去改变/ shìjiè děngzhe wǒ qù gaibiàn
The world is waiting for me to go change (it)

想做的梦从不怕别人看见 / xiǎng zuòde mèng cóngbù pà biérén kànjiàn
Want to have a dream and not fear that other people will see

在这里我都能实现 / zài zhèlǐ wǒ dōu néng shíxiàn
Here I can achieve all of this

大声欢笑让你我肩并肩 / dàshēng huānxiào ràng nǐ wǒ jiānbìngjiān
Laughing loudly let us be should to shoulder

何处不能欢乐无限 / héchù bùnéng huānlè wúxiàn
Wherever there’s not infinite joy

抛开烦恼 勇敢的大步向前 / pāokāi fánnǎo yǒnggǎnde dàbù xiàngqián
Throw out worries, go forward with brave strides

我就站在舞台中间 / wǒ jiù zhàn zài wǔtái zhōngjiān
I just stand in the middle of the stage

[Chorus]

我相信我就是我,我相信明天 / wǒ xiāngxìn wǒ jiùshì wǒ, wǒ xiāngxìn míngtiān
I believe I’m me, I believe in tomorrow

我相信青春没有地平线 / wǒ xiāngxìn qīngchūn méiyǒu dìpíngxiàn
I believe youth has no horizon

在日落的海边,在热闹的大街 / zài rìluòde hǎibiān, zài rènǎode dàjiē
At the sun-setting seaside, on the bustling street

都是我心中最美的乐园 / dōu shì wǒ xīnzhōng zuìměide lèyuán
Both are the happiest paradise of my heart

我相信自由自在,我相信希望 / wǒ xiāngxìn zìyóuzìzài, wǒ xiāngxìn xīwàng
I believe in carefree freedom, I believe in hope

我相信伸手就能碰到天 / wǒ xiāngxìn shēnshǒu jiù néng pèngdào tiān
I believe you can stretch out your hand and reach heaven

有你在我身边 让生活更新鲜 / yǒu nǐ zài wǒ shēnbiān ràng shēnghuó gèng xīnxiān
Having you at my side makes life fresher

每一刻都精采万分,I do believe / měi yíkè dōu jīngcǎi wànfēn
Every moment is extremely splendid

Karaoke adventures:

Chinese songs to learn:

Traditional Chinese Christmas Songs: 《欢乐佳音歌》 & 《圣诞感恩歌》

A couple Christmases ago we shared mp3s of traditional Christmas songs that had been Chinese-ified. This year you get some genuine Chinese Christmas songs, as in songs written by Chinese in Chinese and in a Chinese style, rather than sounding like corrupted English songs. The first song is especially good for language students; it’s so repetitive that you only have to learn four lines.

I tried to find well-produced recordings of arrangements that would sound good to Western ears, but each link below fails on one or both accounts (this is not surprising for a lot of traditional Chinese music). But the point is that it’s a Chinese song anyway, so you get what you get, which in this case is 10000x tamer than the inebriated felines of Beijing opera.

Mouseover the Chinese below to see the pronunciation. My translation is veeery rough.

《欢乐佳音歌》 Joyous Tidings

#83 in the TSPM hymnal (赞美)
Listen: here and here.

欢乐圣诞佳音大家歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
锡安报道救主降临 耶稣基督甘愿卑贱众人
Zion the whole earth announces the saviour has come,
Jesus Christ willingly humbly rescues everyone

欢乐圣诞佳音大家歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

欢乐圣诞佳音大家歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
普世万民传扬降生 赐下救恩信徒蒙恩
All the people in all the world, come spread the news that the Lord is born,
bestowing salvation, multitudes of believers receive profound grace

欢乐圣诞佳音大家歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

欢乐圣诞佳音大家歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
信徒大家恭敬献上感谢 哈利路亚天庭
All believers respectfully offer God thankful hearts,
sing hallelujah together with Heaven’s hosts filling Heaven

欢乐圣诞佳音大家歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

《圣诞感恩歌》 Christmas Thanksgiving

#84 in the TSPM hymnal (赞美)
Listen: here and here.

耶稣人间 世人 / Jesus comes to earth, God loves the people of the world
人类 肉身 / The Lord saves humanity, ‘The Word becomes Flesh’
天使 凡尘 / Angels sing praise, an ode to God who came to earth
浩大 还要 / God’s grace is truly great, even deeper than the ocean

当年降生 牧人闻讯 / When the Lord was born, shepherds heard the news
前往伯利恒 朝拜 / Went ahead to Bethlehem to worship the holy infant
归来无限 报告降生 / Come back with unbounded happiness, reporting the Lord’s birth
全城传开 基督来临 / The whole city spreads the news, Christ has come

救主世界 和平 / The Saviour comes to the world, bestowing on people peace
马槽安身 四周宁静 / In a manger taking shelter, all around is tranquil
我们感谢 佳音 / We give thanks to the Lord, hearing these good tidings
效法三博士 献上 / Imitate the Three Wisemen, offering up hearts of thanks

赞美降生 欢腾 / Praise for the Lord’s birth, universal celebration
我们得着 名分 / We now can have the status of God’s children
生活盼望 从此永生 / Life has hope, from now on enjoying eternal life
美满幸福 鸿 / Blissful and blessed, completely depending on God’s great grace

The coworker who introduced me to these says that both are homegrown Chinese Christmas songs, though I think I hear some traditional Western hymn-i-ness in the second one especially.

Anyway, if you’ve got Chinese Christmas music, please share!

More Christmas music:

For your karaoke repertoire: