Aloha ‘Oe

I believe with all my heart that Aloha ‘Oe is the most beautiful song ever written, period.  Some say (incorrectly) that the song was written by Queen Lili’uokalani while she was confined to ‘Iolani Palace.  This is not so.  In fact, she wrote the song in 1878 as the result of having seen what she thought was the particularly sweet and sorrowful parting of a Colonel James Boyd and young lady he was obviously fond of, on the Maunawili Ranch, on the windward side of the island.  The queen is reprted to have worked on the tune on her way home that day, and then wrote the music later, in Washington Place.  The tune of the verse resembles “The Rock Beside the Sea”, composed by Charles Crozat Converse and published in Philadephia, 1857. The melody of the chorus is also remarkably close to the chorus of George Frederick Root’s composition, “There’s Music In The Air”, published in 1854. There is a manuscript of “Aloha Oe” in Queen Lili’uokalani’s handwriting in the Bishop Museum.    

In any event, this song has brought tears to my eyes pretty much every time I’ve ever heard it.  I encourage you to listen to it by clicking the “Listen to Hawaiian Music” button on this site’s homepage.  You will be glad you did.

Aloha “Oe                        by Queen Lili’uokalani

Ha ‘aheo ka ua i na pali                        Proudly swept the rain by the cliffs
Ke nihi a’ela i ka nahele                       As it glided through the trees
E hahai (uhai) ana paha i ka liko           Still following ever the bud
Pua ‘ahihi lehua o uka                         The ‘ahihi lehua of the vale

Aloha ‘oe, aloha ‘oe                             Farewell to you, farewell to you
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo                   The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace,                              One fond embrace
A ho’i a ‘e au                                       Ere I depart
Until we meet again                              Until we meet again

‘O ka hali’a aloha i hiki mai                   Sweet memories come back to me
Ke hone a’e nei i                                  Bringing fresh rememberances
Ku’u manawa                                       Of the past
‘O ‘oe no ka’u ipo aloha                         Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
A loko e hana nei                                  From you, true love shall never depart

Maopopo ku’u ‘ike i ka nani                   I have seen and watched your loveliness
Na pua rose o Maunwili                        The sweet rose of Maunawili
I lailia hia’ia na manu                            And ’tis there the birds of love dwell
Miki’ala i ka nani o ka lipo                     And sip the honey from your lips

Leave a Reply