Palästinalied (Palestine Song) is a song written by Walther von der Vogelweide, the most celebrated German mediaeval lyric poet. Its subject matter is Palestine and the crusades. It is Walther's only song where not only the text but also the original tune was handed down to modern times. The full song consists of 13 strophes in Middle High German. Modern performers usually use only a few of these strophes.
Palästinalied was written in connection with the Fifth Crusade (1217-1221). Although it is a political-religious song describing a crusade into the Holy Land, it is atypical for a song of this kind in that it also recognizes the claim of all Abrahamic religions to the Holy Land, although finally asserting that the Christian cause is the "right one" in the last strophe:
- Kristen juden und die heiden
- jehent daz dis ir erbe sî
- got müesse ez ze rehte scheiden
- dur die sîne namen drî
- al diu werlt diu strîtet her
- wir sîn an der rehten ger.
- reht ist daz er uns gewer
This strophe can be translated as follows: Christians, Jews and Heathens claim this to be their heritage. God has to assign it in the right way, for His three names. The whole world is coming battling here - our cause is right. It is right that He is granting it to us.
With the increased popularity of Medieval rock, Neofolk and related musical styles in the late 1980s and 1990s, Palästinalied became a sort of staple song for such genres and is now well known to modern audiences due to performances by mainly German bands, including
- Ougenweide (album All die Weil Ich Mag, 1974)
- Corvus Corax (album Congregatio, 1991)
- Radio Tarifa (album Rumba Argelina, 1993)
- Qntal (album Qntal II, 1995)
- Estampie (album Crusaders, 1996)
- In Extremo (album Weckt die Toten!, 1998)
- Djembe (album Хиты Средневековья, 1999)
- Mediaeval Baebes (album Undrentide, 2000)
- Finisterra (album Kein Evoë - Kein Requiem, 2002)
- Unto Ashes (EP I Cover You With Blood, 2003)
- Omnia (in "Teutates," album PaganFolk, 2006)
- Luc Arbogast (album Hortus Dei, 2006)
- Tinnitus Brachialis (album Es wird Zeit...), 2010
The German medieval-EBM fusion act Heimataerde also used the melody from "Palästinalied" as the bagpipe-lead in the song "Deus Lo Vult" from their first album, Gotteskrieger. Other similar groups to cover the song have been Saltatio Mortis and Pilgrimage.
Lou Harrison's String Quartet Set's 1st movement takes much of its melody from this song.
- Meinolf Schumacher: "Die Konstituierung des „Heiligen Landes“ durch die Literatur. Walthers „Palästinalied“ und die Funktion der europäischen Kreuzzugsdichtung." In Orientdiskurse in der deutschen Literatur, edited by Klaus Michael Bogdal, Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verlag, 2007, pp. 11–30 ISBN 978-3-89528-555-4
- Palästinalied at Discogs (a compilation of 20 versions of the song)
- Page of both Middle High German and Modern German lyrics
- Unto Ashes video for Palästinalied