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Gott weiß, ich will kein Engel sein.

This is a song lyric from German metal band Rammstein. I wonder whether this lyric could also be phrased using dass:

Gott weiß, dass ich kein Engel sein will.

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If you take the literal meaning, yes, you can rephrase it with a subordinate clause (but don’t forget the comma):

Gott weiß, dass ich kein Engel sein will.

But if you take a more abstract meaning with a not-religious-anymore approach, I would hesitate. This construction feels more like a set phrase, an exclamation; other similar/related expressions would be

Weiß Gott …
Weiß der Himmel …

compare the use of the English

Heaven knows …

Or French

Dieu sait …

They have evolved from a religious statement to phrases that will simply emphasize the following statement or rhetorical question without much of a religious undertone in modern usage.

Your substitution, while it can be read the same way, is more likely to be taken in the literal sense.

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  • I know the song and I never thought of the link to "Weiß Gott". +1
    – Iris
    Oct 16, 2015 at 12:04
  • I actually doubt that "Weiß Gott" fits here - had they wanted to express that, they could just have said it, as it fits the metrum as well. Oct 17, 2015 at 20:46
  • @ThorstenDittmar does that mean that you think the version with the inserted dass would not change the meaning significantly? Jan 17, 2022 at 18:26
  • Let me put it this way: The "official" syntax would be "Gott weiß, dass ich kein Engel sein will". The sentence "Gott weiß, ich will kein Engel sein" does mean the same thing, but is phrased more collquially, as it joins to main clauses. The same thing goes for "Ich habe gesagt, dass ich das nicht will" vs. "Ich habe gesagt, ich will das nicht". The latter is the collquial version, which is not necessarily grammatically correct. Jan 18, 2022 at 8:39

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