Maria durch ein Dornwald ging

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"Maria durch ein Dornwald ging"
EnglishMaria Walks Amid the Thorns
OccasionAdvent, pilgrimage
Textby unknown
Published1850 (1850)

"Maria durch ein Dornwald ging" (English: "Maria walks amid the thorns", or "Mary walked through a wood of thorn") is a German Advent song. By origin it was a pilgrimage song that initially was spread verbally in the 19th century, starting in the Catholic Eichsfeld.


The earliest known printed version with seven stanzas was found in 1850 in the collection of hymns from August von Haxthausen and Dietrich Bocholtz-Asseburg. The actual origin of the song is unclear. Occasionally this song is dated in the 16th century, which at least may not be proved.[1] However, in the Andernach hymnal of 1608 a song "Jesus and his mother tender" was printed with the note "to the tune of Maria went through this forest", in which sometimes a nucleus of this Advent song is suspected.[2]

It was the songbooks of the German Youth Movement at the beginning of the 20th century, that procured the song's popularity. On the other hand, this effectuated its transformation from the pilgrimage to the supposedly popular Advent hymn. In 1910, the song appeared in the well-known today three-stanza version initially published in the Jugenheimer Liederblatt. In 1912, the song was absorbed by the Zupfgeigenhansl and, in 1914, issued in the Songbook "Der Spielmann" created by Klemens Neumann, co-founder of the Catholic Quickborn Youth Movement. In the Gotteslob, the current common prayer- and hymnbook of Catholic dioceses in Germany, Austria, and South Tyrol, the song is edited with No 224.

There is a choral setting of the carol in English, "Mary walked through a wood of thorn", by the composer Philip Radcliffe.[3]


The first three stanzas describing the walk of Mary with the child "under her heart" refer to the pericope of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, Luke 1:39–56. It is decorated with the motif of the dead thornwood, a symbol of fertility and death, which begins to bloom during pass of Mary with the divine child. The other stanzas circling around the catechetical question and answer format of the mystery of the Incarnation of God.


  • Hans Breuer (editor): Der Zupfgeigenhansel. Hofmeister, Leipzig 1915.
  • Hermann Kurzke, Christiane Schäfer: Eigentlich ein Lied aus der Wandervogelbewegung. In: FAZ Nr. 298, p. 6 of 22 Dezember 2011 (online, PDF, 467 KB).

Texts and translations[edit]


  1. ^ August von Haxthausen, Dietrich Bocholtz-Asseburg (editor): Geistliche Volkslieder mit ihren ursprünglichen Weisen gesammelt aus mündlicher Tradition und seltenen alten Gesangbüchern. Paderborn 1850, S. 164–165. Zitiert nach der Onlinefassung im Historisch-Kritischen Liederlexikon des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs.
  2. ^ Theo Mang, Sunhilt Mang (editor), Der Liederquell. Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven, 2007, ISBN 978-3-7959-0850-8, p. 1017–1018.
  3. ^ "Mary walked through a wood of thorn (Radcliffe) - from SIGCD902 - Hyperion Records - MP3 and Lossless downloads".