Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life

AH! sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee;
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all;
All the longing, striving, seeking, waiting, yearning,
The burning hopes, the joys and idle tears that fall!

For 'tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking;
And it's love, and love alone, that can reply;
'Tis the answer, ti's the end and all of living,
For it is love alone that rules for aye!

Rida Johnson Young (1869-1926)

There's a long time line and convoluted history to the story behind Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life

Irish composer Victor Herbert(1859-1924) first composed several comic operas (operettas) one of which was Naughty Marietta, that included a setting of this song written circa 1910 by Rida Johnson Young.

Later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer made a film in which Jeanette McDonald sang the song with Nelson Eddy in a scene in the 1934 opperetta. "This operetta tells of a group of girls the French government has endowed before they sail to Louisiana, there to find husbands and build up that colony. The princess (MacDonald) escapes with this group from her tyrannical uncle and the aged suitor he has selected. In New Orleans, she falls in love with the captain of the mercenaries (Eddy) and again escapes for a happy finish."- (Variety)

Lastly Mel Brooks spoofed the McDonald rendition in another film, Young Frankenstein, where he had the divine Madeline Kahn (1942-1999) turn up the laughs with her classically trained soprano voice and belt it out at the *ahem* climax of the film.


Ah! Sweet mystery of life:

Film & TV: TV Eye (Austin Chronicle . 12-20-99):

Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

CST Approved

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