The Meaning of Hawaiian Wedding Song

The original song Ke Kali Nei Au (Waiting For Thee) – Words & music by Charles King was adapted to the well-known Hawaiian Wedding Song.

Huapala translates Waiting for Thee beautifully:

Eia au ke kali nei
Aia la i hea kuʻu aloha
Eia au ke huli nei
A loaʻa ʻoe e ka ipo
Maha ka ʻiʻini a ka puʻuwai
Ua sila paʻa ʻia me ʻoe
Ko aloha makamae e ipo
Kaʻu ia e lei aʻe nei laNou no ka ʻiʻini (nou ka ʻiʻini)
A nou wale no (wale no)
A o ko aloha kaʻu e hiʻipoi mau
Naʻu ʻoe (naʻu ʻoe)
E lei (e lei)
Naʻu ʻoe e lei
A he haliʻa kai hiki mai
No kuʻu lei onaona
Pūlupe i ka uaʻAuhea ʻoe ka ʻiʻini a loko
Na loko aʻe ka manaʻo
Huʻe lani ana i kuʻu kinoKuʻu pua kuʻu lei onaona
Aʻu i kui a lawa ia nei
Me ke ala pua pikake

A o ʻoe kuʻu pua (O ʻoe kuʻu pua)
Kuʻu pua lei lehua (lehua)

Aʻu e liʻa mau nei hoʻopaʻa
Ia iho ke aloha

He lei (he lei)
`Oe na`u (`oe na`u)
He lei `oe na`u

Here I am waiting
Where is my beloved
I’ve searched for you
Now that I’ve found you
Calm the desire of my heart
Sealed forever to you
Sweetheart you are so precious
I pledge my love to you alone
I desire you (desire)
True to you alone (alone)
With you joy will ever be mine
You’re mine (you’re mine)
Oh, my lei (Oh, lei)
You`re mine, my lei
Fond remembrance of the one who came
My fragrant lei
Drenched in the rain
Listen you, my heart’s desire
To the thought within me
Open the heaven within my body
My flower, my fragrant lei
I will string and bind
Like the fragrant jasmine flower
You are my blossom (you, my blossom)
My lei of lehua (lehua)
My desire is always to be with and close
To my love
My lei (my lei)
You’re mine
My lei, you’re mine 

Source: King’s Blue Book, Copyright 1926, 1943 by Charles E. King – Commonly referred to as the Hawaiian Wedding Song, King said he wrote the song while convalescing in Queen’s hospital in 1926 for his operetta, “Prince of Hawaiʻi”. Introduced by the Royal Hawaiian Band, this song featured a duet by John Paoakalani Heleluhe and Lizzie Alohikea

There have been many covers of the Auana inspired version Hawaiian Wedding Song:

This is the moment
I’ve waited for
I can hear my heart singing
Soon bells will be ringing

This is the moment
Of sweet Aloha
I will love you longer than forever
Promise me that you will leave me never

Here and now dear,
All my love,
I vow dear
Promise me that you will leave me never
I will love you longer than forever

U-a, si-la
Pa-a ia me o-e
Ko a-lo-ha ma-ka-mea e i-po
Ka-‘u ia e le-i a-e ne-i la

Now that we are one
Clouds won’t hide the sun
Blue skies of Hawaii smile
On this, our wedding day
I do love you with all my heart

I love how Elvis Presley had always included a verse actually song in Hawaiian in his English versions.

This is not only a beautiful song for weddings but a beacon to the vast history of Hawaiian music and culture in the scope of the diverse history of the US.


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