Sing Tenting Tonight in Chinese

American Flag

American Flag

“Tenting on the Old Camp Ground”, also known as “Tenting Tonight”, is a sorrowful anti-war song with words and music composed by Walter Kittredge during the American Civil War. It describes the atrocities of war and reveals how soldiers actually long for peace and don’t really want to go to war.

露营 means to camp out, usually in a tent. 扎营 is to set up a tent. Here, we are talking about a military camp. My brother liked to sing this song, and that’s how I came to know it. I’ve made the Chinese translation easy to sing, while still closely following the English verses.


今夜在这里露营 Tenting Tonight
 Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng

Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng zhá xià yíng
We’re tenting to-night on the old camp ground,

Chàng zhī gē lái tīng tīng.
Give us a song to cheer

唱唱家园, 朋友的情景,                 
Chàng chàng jiāyuán péngyǒu de qíngjǐng
Our weary hearts, a song of home,

ānwèi wǒmén píbèi de xīn.
And friends we love so dear.

Yǒu duōshao de rén jīnwǎn xīnqíng bù níng,
Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,

Qíwàng zhànhuǒ kuài kuài tíng.
Wishing for the war to cease,

Yǒu duōshao de rén kěwàng néng yǒu xìng
Many are the hearts looking for the right,

kàndào bǎoguì de hépíng.
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜露营, 今夜露营,                     
Jīn yè lùyíng, jīn yè lùyíng,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,

Jīn yè zài zhelǐ lùyíng.
Tenting on the old camp ground.


今夜又在老战场上露营,                ,
Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng lùyíng
We’ve been tenting to-night on the old camp ground

Sī xiāng zhī qíng gèng qiè.
Thinking of days gone by,

Xiǎngdào jiārén wò zhe shǒu dīngníng,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand

Yīyī huī lèi dào bié.
And the tear that said “Good-by!”

Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease,
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
Tenting on the old camp ground.


Wǒmén bùzài rèqiè chěng yīngyǒn,
We are tired of war on the old camp ground.

Yǒuxiē rén yǐ bà mìng sòng.
Many are dead and gone.

Lí xiāng bèi jǐng de dìxiōng
Of the brave and true who’ve left their homes,

Dàdū fùshāng cǎnzhòng.
Others been wounded long.

Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease,
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
今夜露营, 今夜露营,
Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
Tenting on the old camp ground.


Jīn yè yòu zài lǎo zhànchǎng shàng huǒ pīn
We’ve been fighting to-day on the old camp ground,

Dìxiōng zhū biàndì tǎng.
Many are lying near;

有些已逝, 有些奄奄呻吟,               
Yǒuxiē yǐ shì, yǒuxiē yǎnyǎn shēnyín,
Some are dead, and some are dying,

Yě yǒurén lèi mǎn kuàng.
Many are in tears.

Many are the hearts that are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease,
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.

今夜成仁, 今夜成仁,
Jīn yè chéngrèn, jīn yè chéngrèn,
Dying tonight, dying tonight,

Jīn yè zài zhelǐ chéngrèn.
Dying on the old camp ground.


Zhù nǐ yǒu gè měihǎo de qīyuè sìrì!
Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Sing Flower on a Rainy Night in Mandarin Chinese

The song called 雨夜花 (Yǔ Yè Huā Flower on a Rainy Night) is a very well-known Taiwanese song. The beautiful melody was originally composed for a children’s song. After hearing the sad life story of a young bar girl, the lyricist changed the lyrics and used a tender blossom pounded upon by merciless, relentless rain as a metaphor for a poor girl fallen into the flesh trade through unfortunate circumstances.

The Taiwanese pronunciation for 雨夜花 is “wuyahue”, quite different from the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. There are still a few older Taiwanese folks who only speak the local dialect. However, the majority of the people in Taiwan speak Mandarin Chinese, which is the official language to date.

At this link, you can hear Teresa Teng sing this song in Taiwanese.

I changed the lyrics so you could sing it in English or Mandarin Chinese, if you wish.

Flower on a Rainy Night

Rain on me, rain on me.
So much shame, so much pain to bear.
No one sees me, no one hears me,
No one knows me, no one cares.

Nigh is falling, day is dying,
Now I wilt, now the last hour nears.
No more sighing, no more crying,
No more fears and no more tears.

雨连连, 雨连连.
Yǔ liánlián, yǔ liánlián.
The rain keeps falling.

多少羞愧, 多少悲凄.
Duōshao xiūkuì duōshao bēi qī.
So much shame and regret, so much sorrow.

没人看见, 没人听见,
Méi rén kànjian, méi rén tīngjiàn,
No one sees, no one hears,

没人知晓, 没人理.
Méi rén zhīxiǎo, méi rén lǐ.
No one knows, no one pays attention.

夜已临, 日已尽.
Yè yǐ lín, rì yǐ jìn.
Night has come, day has ended.

花已谢, 花瓣已凋零.
Huā yǐ xiè, huābàn yǐ diāolíng.
Flower is spent, the petals have fallen.

不再怨叹, 不再啜泣,
Bùzài yuàn tàn, bùzài chuòqì,
No more sighing, no more sobbing,

不再畏惧, 得安宁.
Bùzài wèijù, dé ānníng.
No more dreading; peace at last.

So today we will learn a few words associated with decay and sadness.

(yǔ) is rain. 下雨 (xiàyǔ) means to rain.
(lián) means to connect or to link. 连连 means continuously, as in the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”.

羞愧 (xiūkuì) means to feel ashamed or abashed.
悲凄 (bēi qī) means mournful.
知晓 (zhīxiǎo) means the same as 知道 (zhīdào), i.e. to know or to be aware of.
理睬 (lǐcǎi) means to pay attention to or to show interest in.
Here, (xiè) does not mean “thanks”. It refers to the decline or withering of the flower. 谢世 (xièshì) means to pass away.
花瓣 (huābàn )are flower petals.
凋零 (diāolíng) is to wither and be scattered about.
怨叹 (yuàn tàn) is to complain and to sigh.
啜泣 (chuòqì) is to sob or weep.
畏惧 (wèijù) is to fear or to dread.
安宁 (ānníng) means peaceful or free from worries.

Értóng jié kuàilè!.
Happy International Children’s Day!

P.S. I hope you are all holding out all right with the social distancing. Stay safe.


Sing “Pearly Shells” in Chinese

Picked Blackberries

Picked Blackberries

Blue, blue my world is blue – the good kind of blue from the luscious blueberries (藍莓 lán méi) and blackberries (黑莓 hēi méi) in my yard begging to be picked. Duty-bound I don a white shirt with long sleeves, grab a 1 1/2 quart plastic container and head outside. It is my responsibility to unleash my gatherer instinct and free those anxious berries from their bondage to the same old bushes under the scorching sun.

What precision it takes to pluck each and every blackberry without being poked or scratched by the vicious thorns! And what delight it is to gently roll or rub a bunch of blueberries and nudge the ripe ones into the container! It does take some nerves, though, to work alongside the honeybees (蜜蜂 mìfēng) and not be intimidated by their constant buzzes and hums. My white shirt makes me basically invisible to these flying stingers. I just need to be careful not to pick from the same bunch the bees are after. Some of them zip around at lower elevations and bump into my long trousers once in a while.

An hour or so later, I come back inside with a quart of each kind of berries, fully intending to elevate their status to velvety berry sauces, to-die-for pies, or glistening jams and jellies. Alas, that is not to be. Eager hands fall upon the berries and plop them into eager mouths. Within minutes all berries are gone.

Oh well. Anyhow it’s too hot to be in the kitchen baking, canning or, for that matter, cooking. I stretch out on my favorite chair and dream about a vacation in Hawaii (夏威夷 xiàwēiyí). I imagine myself walking barefoot along the coastline, now and then picking up a seashell to admire. I come upon a group of adorable kids singing “Pearly Shells“. I smile and say, “Aloha!”

You might try singing the first part of this cute song in Chinese by substituting the English lyrics with the following lines.

Xiǎo bèiké,láizì hǎiyáng,
Little shells that came from the ocean,

biànbù shātān shàng,
spread all over the sandy beach,

yángguāng xià fāliàng.
glisten under the sunshine.

Kànjian tāmen,
Seeing them,

wǒ xīn míngbai wǒ ài de shì nǐ
my heart knows that the one I love is you,

jǐnguǎn nàxiē bèiké yǒu duō měilì.
despite the beauty of all the pearly shells.

来自 (láizì) means to come from a place. In Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes we came across this word while singing the phrase “I come from Alabama” in the song “Oh Susanna”. We use this word more often in writing than in speaking. Colloquially you would say “The little shells came from the ocean.” as follows:

Xiǎo bèiké shì cóng hǎiyáng lái de.

明白 (míngbai) as an adjective means clear or obvious. Used as a verb, it means to know, to understand or to realize, as shown in the following example.

Xiànzài wǒ míngbai le.
Now I understand.

You probably already know that “I love you” in Chinese is 我爱你 (Wǒ ài nǐ). 我爱的是你 (Wǒ ài de shì nǐ) emphasizes the choice of the person one loves. You would use this form when there is a doubt of which person you actually love and clarification is called for. When you need to clarify your intention or what you’ve just said, you could start the sentence with 我的意思是 (Wǒ de yìsī shì I mean, or what I meant is)

尽管 (jǐnguǎn), as used here, means “even though” or “in spite of”. This word also means “feel free to (do something)”, as shown in the following example:

不要担心. 你尽管去做.
Bùyào dānxīn. Nǐ jǐnguǎn qù zuò.
Don’t worry. Go ahead and do it.

Zhù xià ān!
Have a nice summer!

%d bloggers like this: