Zeig Dich by Rammstein: Lyrics Analysis

    Exmustamus, Cruchifixus, Murisuri, Extraspection, Exmustamus, Cruchifixus, Lumine, Extraspection

    These eight lines of “Zeig dich” by Rammstein are not actually German. In fact, with one exception, “Lumine”, as far as I can tell, they aren’t even Latin, which is what I originally thought they were. I could make some assumptions based on the Latin words that they resemble, but you came here for a breakdown of the German in this song, so let’s get into the German part of the song.

    While we don’t know what “Zeig dich” sounds like yet, as the album doesn’t come out until May 17, Rammstein’s official YouTube channel released a 16 second sample of the song and the lyrics were leaked on some promotional photos for a special vinyl edition of the album found on Amazon.de. Found on the American version of Amazon here.

    The ver- Prefix

    Almost all of the lyrics in this song are single words that start with the inseparable prefix ver-. This prefix does a variety of things to the verbs to which they are attached. The two main ways that this affects verbs and the most important for this song are as follows. To change the object into the state indicated by the stem of the verb. For example: “urteilen” is “to pronounce judgement”, while “verurteilen” is “to convict”. This change will become clearer as we go through the lyrics.

    The other change is to indicate a fault in the action completed through the stem of the verb. This changes the verb “laufen”, “to run”, into “verlaufen”, “to get lost”. This has some great lyrical opportunities, which Rammstein definitely takes advantage of in this song. We’ll take a look at each line alone to see how this prefix changes the verb and then go back to the full verse to see what it means together.

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    Verlangen verfluchen – Cursing desire

    “Verlangen” could be the verb “to request”, although this verb can also sometimes be translated as “to demand”. As a noun it means “desire”, which if I know anything about Rammstein is the more likely translation. The verb “langen” without the ver- in front means “to hand” or “extend”, which falls into the first category of ver- changes I mentioned. It changes the object that is being extended or reached towards someone into the thing being requested.

    “Verfluchen” is similar to the word “Fluch”, which came up in the “Deutschland” analysis I did and has a similar definition. This is the verb to damn or curse something or someone. “Fluchen” without the ver- prefix means “to blaspheme” or “swear”, which if you do in the direction of someone, you use ver- to indicate this change, just like we did in the previous example. So together these two words are “Cursing desire”.

    Verdammen Versuchung – Damning attempt

    The next verb “verdammen” is another word that means “to curse” or “condemn”. In this case, there is no verb “dammen”, you can only use this verb with the prefix ver-. Similarly “Suchung” on its own is not its own real word, but “Versuchung” means “attempt” or “try” as a noun. This is actually a nominalized abstraction of the verb, which is a fancy way of saying, we made a noun out of the verb, which shows us the action that is carried out through the verb.

    There is a verb “suchen”, which means “to search” and while the noun “Suchung” doesn’t exist, there are several other variants that include prefixes. “Untersuchung” is a probe or analysis. “Durchsuchung” is a search or examination and shows up in the word “Durchsuchungsbefehl”, which is a search warrant. In this line we see “Versuchung”, which is a noun version of “versuchen”, which is to attempt. Therefore the noun is an “attempt” or “try”. “Verdammen Versuchung” – damning attempt

    Verdammnis versprechen – Promising damnation

    I’m beginning to sense a theme in this song. “Verdammnis” is the noun for “damnation” or “perdition”. “Versprechen” is the verb “to promise”. The verb “sprechen” without the ver- prefix simply means “to speak”, which highlights another example of the change that the prefix ver- can do. “Promising damnation”

    Verüben sie Verbrechen – They commit crimes

    “Üben” means “to practice”, but “verüben” is our first example of the other use of the ver- prefix. “Verüben” means “to commit” or “perpetrate”, as in a crime. “Verbrechen” is the noun for crimes. Due to the fact that the word “sie” is lowercase, this means we are looking at the word “they” and not the formal “you”. The word order starts with the verb, which means that this could be phrased as a question. All of this says that this line could mean “Do they commit crimes?” or “They commit crimes.” I am leaning towards the second one, but only because of the phrasing used in a mirrored line later in the song.

    Verheißung verkünden – Proclaiming great promise

    There is no such word as “Heißung”, but add in the ver- prefix again and you end up with “a great promise”. This one is another example of adding -ung to the end of a verb to make it a noun. The verb is fun for other reasons. There is a verb “heißen”, but it has little to do with the verb “verheißen”. “Verheißen” is like promising in the sense that something good will come from whatever the action is. The noun version “Verheißung” then is “a promise”. The verb “künden” means “to announce”, but “verkünden” is more like “to declare” or “proclaim”. So this says “proclaim great promises”, but it isn’t entirely clear if the subject is the same as the one from the previous line.

    Vergebung aller Sünden – Forgiveness of all sins

    Again, “Gebung” is not a real word, but “Vergebung” is “forgiveness”. This comes from the verb “vergeben”, which means “to forgive”. The verb “geben” is “to give”. This is one of the times that the English and German have similar constructions. geben-give vergeben-forgive. The second half “aller Sünden” is in the genitive case, which indicates a possession, which means this line translates as “forgiveness of all sins”.

    Verbreiten und vermehren – Spreading and multiplying

    The verb “breiten” means “to spread something”. Add in the prefix ver- and you get “to distribute”, “to propagate” or even “to peddle something”. The verb “mehren” means “to enhance” or “to augment”. The prefix ver- only slightly changes the meaning. It becomes “to spread”, “increase” or “strengthen”, which is pretty close to enhancing or augmenting.

    Im Namen des Herren – In the Name of the Lord

    “Im Namen” is “in the name”. The word “des” indicates the genitive case again. For anyone who was ever told that the genitive case is dying, I would like to present this as exhibit 2 and the previous line where I mentioned the genitive case as exhibit 1. The word “Herren” could mean “gentleman” as I saw one website translate this, but anyone who thinks this is about a gentleman is naive. This translates as “the Lord”. “Im Namen des Herren” therefore is “In the Name of the Lord”.

    Zeig dich – Show Yourself

    “Show yourself”. This simple one line is command form in the informal, which by the way is what people use when praying. It is referring back to the same “Herren” as the previous line did. Rammstein is asking God to show himself. Also it is the namesake of this song “Zeig dich”.

    “Zeig dich” – Verse 1

    If we take a look back at the lyrics in this first verse, there is quite a lot going on. Here is the full translation.

    Verlangen verfluchen – Cursing desire
    Verdammen Versuchung – Attempting to damn
    Verdammnis versprechen – Promising damnation
    Verüben sie Verbrechen – They commit crimes
    Verheißung verkünden – Proclaiming great promise
    Vergebung aller Sünden – Forgiveness of all sins
    Verbreiten und vermehren – Spreading and multiplying
    Im Namen des Herren – In the Name of the Lord
    Zeig dich – Show Yourself

    This is a very clear criticism of organized religion, and more specifically, Christianity. Let’s see what the next verse has to teach us.

    Verstecken verzichten – Quit hiding

    The verb “stecken” is simply “to place” or “put”, but “verstecken” uses the second change that ver- can affect, which is do have something go foul, in this case “to hide”. The verb “verzichten” is “to quit”, which brings the whole line to “quit hiding”.

    Verbrennen und vernichten – Burning and destroying

    “Verbrennen” and “brennen” are some of the most confusing verbs in the German language. They both mean to burn. Let me clear up the confusion while we are here. “Brennen” is simply burning in general. “Verbrennen” is like a consuming fire that engulfs everything. The prefix ver- in this case puts the action all over the object instead of just on one part or another. In this line we have “verbrennen”, which is referring to God’s tendency to burn people in an eternal pit of fire for crossing him. Crucifixion joke not intended, but definitely welcome. “Vernichten” means “to annihilate”, “destroy” or “obliterate”. This is clearly a continuation of the previous line where they were saying that God should stop hiding, but now they are saying he should also stop burning people and annihilating them.

    Verhütung verboten – Birth control is forbidden

    I think “Verhütung” is a cool way to show you the use of the prefix ver-. The word “Hütung” means “guard”, but “Verhütung” means prevention. Both words come from the verbs “hüten” (to guard) and “verhüten” (to prevent). They turned these verbs into nouns becoming “guard” and “prevention” respectively. In this context, however, it is referring to “birth control”, as the verb “verboten” means “forbidden”, which is a reference to the fact that officially the Catholic Church prohibits their followers to use birth control, as it is preventing life that God has willed into existence.

    Verstreuen sie Gebote – They spread their commandments

    Both “streuen” and “verstreuen” mean “to scatter” or “spread”, but just like the ver- in “verbrennen” made it so that the fire was all over whatever it was. Now we have “verstreuen”, which means “to scatter” or “spread” all over. In this line, the things being spread are “Gebote”, which are commands or more likely in this context, commandments, as in the 10 big ones. You know #3, don’t write a song decrying the things God does or does not do. This full line is the reason I said earlier that I don’t think the word order is actually an indication of a question, but rather a stylistic choice made so that all of the lines start with a ver- word. It simply translates as “They spread their commandments”.

    Verfolgung verkünden – Proclaim persecution

    Here we have this word “verkünden”, which I have already said means “to proclaim”. This time they are proclaiming “Verfolgung”, which is “persecution” in this context. It, of course, comes from the verb “verfolgen”, which is “to persecute”. “They are proclaiming persecution” This is a reference to people (mostly in the USA) saying that Christianity is under attack and giving examples of things like using “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” in stores or removing the Ten Commandments from displays in government buildings.

    Modified Chorus

    Vergebung der Sünden – Forgiveness of the sins
    Verbreiten, sich vermehren – Spreading, multiplying themselves
    Im Namen des Herren – In the Name of the Lord
    Zeig dich – Show yourself

    We have seen these four lines including “Zeig dich” before. The translation hasn’t changed with a couple very subtle exceptions. Instead of “Vergebung aller Sünden” it says “Vergebung der Sünden”, which changes from “forgiveness of all sins” to “forgiveness of the sins”. I’m not sure what the significance could be for this change. If you have an idea, I would love to hear about it in the comments below. The other change is a bit more significant. Instead of “verbreiten und vermehren” it now says “verbreiten, sich vermehren”. The insinuation is the same, as they both say “spreading and multiplying”, but the second one uses the reflexive pronoun “sich”, which indicates that they are multiplying themselves. While this was implied in the first verse, mentioning it explicitly in this verse is a bit stronger of a criticism than the first.

    “Zeig dich” – Verse 2

    Verstecken verzichten – Quit hiding
    Verbrennen und vernichten – Burning and destroying
    Verhütung verboten – Birth control is forbidden
    Verstreuen sie Gebote – They spread their commandments
    Verfolgung verkünden – Proclaim persecution
    Vergebung der Sünden – Forgiveness of the sins
    Verbreiten, sich vermehren – Spreading, multiplying themselves
    Im Namen des Herren – In the Name of the Lord
    Zeig dich – Show yourself

    Zeig dich. Versteck dich nicht. – Show yourself. Don’t hide yourself.

    You know by now that “Zeig dich” still means “show yourself”, so I’ll stop talking about it every time it shows up in the rest of the song, as it is repeated a lot in the next couple verses. The second part of this set of lines is also command form and also uses the reflexive pronoun “dich”. This means “don’t hide yourself”.

    Zeig dich. Wir vermehren das Licht – Show yourself.We are increasing the light.

    This line turns the verb “vermehren” on its head. Before it was used to say that Christians are multiplying and spreading across the world, but in this line it says “We are increasing the light”. This is likely an attempt to get God to show himself.

    Zeig dich. Kein Engel in der Not – Show yourself. No angel in need.

    “Not” is “hardship”, “distress” or “need”. This line says “No angel in need”. This isn’t saying that there isn’t an angel that is in need, but rather that no angels show up when you are in need. In order to say that the angel is the one in distress, you need to say “Kein Engel in Not”, which is not what the line is here. This is another reference to God not showing himself, as he doesn’t even bother to send his emissaries anymore. For the grammar nerds in the crowd, the phrase “in der Not” uses the dative case, as even in the figurative nature of this line the position is not changing with this two-way preposition. If you don’t know what I am talking about, click this link to the two-way preposition video I recently made.

    Kein Gott zeigt sich – No God shows himself

    “No God shows himself.” This line is pretty straight forward. It is a non-command version of the song title. It is just a nice way to break up the repetitiveness of this part of the song.

    Der Himmel färbt sich rot – Heaven turns red

    The word “Himmel” generally translates as “sky”, but it can also be “heaven”, which is more likely in this context. The verb “sich färben” is “to change color”, in this case “to turn red”, as “rot” means “red”. The color red has a ton of different connotations that could have been meant here, but my money is on blood or fire, as embarrassment and blushing are expressed with the verb “werden” (to become), but the reasoning for this assumption will become incredibly clear when we get to the next verse. In the meantime, here is this verse all together.

    “Zeig dich” – Verse 3

    Zeig dich – Show yourself
    Versteck dich nicht – Don’t hide yourself
    Zeig dich – Show yourself
    Wir vermehren das Licht – We are increasing the light
    Zeig dich – Show yourself
    Kein Engel in der Not – No angel in need
    Kein Gott zeigt sich – No God shows himself
    Der Himmel färbt sich rot – Heaven turns red

    Verfehlung verfolgen – Pursue transgression

    “Verfehlung” is a “transgression”, from the verb “verfehlen” (to neglect or fall short) and “verfolgen” means “to pursue”. This verse calls attention to some of the problems that the Catholic Church has been facing in recent years. More specific examples will follow, but this is simply asking them to pursue the transgressions that they know about.

    Verführung vergelten – Repay debauchery

    The verb “führen” means “to lead”, but “verführen” is “to seduce”, “ensnare” or “debauch”. The noun version “Verführung” is “seduction” or “debauchery”. “Gelten” means “to be valid”, but “vergelten” means “to repay” or “retaliate”. I like the function of the ver- prefix here, as “vergelten” can be translated as “to validate” in a way, which shows exactly the function of ver- I mentioned at the beginning of this video. The full line is “repay debauchery/seduction”.

    Vergnügen verpönt – Pleasure is frowned upon

    “Vergnügen” is one of the words for “pleasure” in German and “verpönt” means “taboo” or “frowned upon”. This is in reference to the fact that Catholic priests can’t get married and they are supposed to be celibate. Neither “Gnügen” nor “pönt” are words, so in this case, the prefix ver- doesn’t really fit either definition nor is it really acting like a prefix, but rather just another part of the word. “Vergnügen” doesn’t fit either definition I gave at the beginning of this video for ver-, but in “verpönt” shows a negativity that falls in line with the second definition I gave. “Vergnügen verpönt” – Pleasure frowned upon

    Verlogen und verwöhnt – Deceptive and spoiled

    The word “verlogen” comes from the verb “lügen”, the past tense of which is “gelogen”, and it means “to lie”, as in not tell the truth. “Verlogen” itself means “dishonest” or “fraudulent”. “Verwöhnt” means “spoiled”. This one really highlights the second definition I gave for the prefix ver-. “Wohnen” means “to live”, but “gewöhnen” is the verb that is being used here, which means “to get used to” or “acclimate”.

    When you add in the prefix ver- the acclimation to which the verb refers is changed into a change for the worse. In this line we are referring back to the previous line again, which tells us that pleasure is not only frowned upon, but also dishonest and spoiled. This is a reference to the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church for years. They are insinuating that the priests are resorting to sexual abuse, because they can’t have a normal relationship, which is forbidden by the Church.

    Als Versehen sich / An Kindern vergehen- Accidentally / Abusing children

    These two lines must be read together and so I did. The verb “vergehen” alone means “to vanish”, “decay” or “cease to be”, but when you add the preposition “an” and a person, in this case “Kinder” (children), it becomes “to sexually abuse”. This is used with the dative case, which is why the plural of “Kind”, “Kinder”, now has an -n added to the end, which is what happens to plural nouns in the dative case. The first half of this uses the conjunction “als”, not as the conjunction “when”, but rather “as”. The noun “Versehen” is a “mistake” or “accident”. The verb version “sich versehen” is to make an error. These two lines together translate as “Sexually abusing children on accident or by accident”.

    Verbreiten und vermehren / Im Namen des Herren / Zeig dich – Spreading and multiplying / In the Name of the Lord / Show yourself

    These lines are the same as before.

    “Zeig dich” – Verse 4

    Verfehlung verfolgen – Pursue transgression
    Verführung vergelten – Repay debauchery
    Vergnügen verpönt – Pleasure is frowned upon
    Verlogen und verwöhnt – Deceptive and spoiled
    Als Versehen sich – Accidentally
    An Kindern vergehen – Abusing children
    Verbreiten und vermehren – Spreading and multiplying
    Im Namen des Herren – In the Name of the Lord
    Zeig dich – Show yourself

    Finally the chorus repeats itself again, which I have translated for you again.

    Zeig dich – Show yourself
    Versteck dich nicht – Don’t hide yourself
    Zeig dich – Show yourself
    Wir vermehren das Licht – We are increasing the light
    Zeig dich – Show yourself
    Kein Engel in der Not – No angel in need
    Kein Gott zeigt sich – No God shows himself
    Der Himmel färbt sich rot – Heaven turns red

    “Zeig dich” Summary

    “Zeig dich” is sure to cause some controversy once it is released in a few weeks. I for one am excited for the new album, but the lyrics in this song are just too “on the nose” for me. Rammstein is best when they are more ambiguous about their meanings. Songs like “Du Hast” with the play on words between “hassen” and “haben” and the overall message of the song that is buried behind a metaphor. Or “Engel”, which on the surface is about not wanting to become an angel when you die, but underneath there is a message about conformity. Those songs are great, because they aren’t a straight forward criticism of something. You have to look deeper into the song to really appreciate what they are trying to say.

    For that reason I am a bit skeptical about “Zeig dich”, but from the clip that they released a few weeks ago, I think it will still sound cool no matter what. What do you think about this song and its lyrics? Sound off in the comments below. If you want to know more about Rammstein lyrics, you should check out my friend VlogDave. He has a ton of amazing videos about Rammstein and their song lyrics. Check him out and I’ll see you next time. Tschüss.

    Herr Antrim

    Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites.