Palästinalied (Palestine Song) is a poem written in the early 13th century by Walther von der Vogelweide, the most celebrated German medieval lyric poet. The poem is written in Middle High German. It is the only song by Walter for which a melody has survived. The oldest source for the melody is the Münster fragment, which is dated to the early 14th century.
Manuscript A (Heidelberg) is the oldest source of the text (dated to the late 13th century), giving seven stanzas. Other manuscripts have up to eleven stanzas, for a total of thirteen distinct stanzas. Of these, one (the third stanza) is clearly younger than the original composition. On the other five stanzas not in manuscript A, there is no expert consensus as to whether they should be regarded as Walter's.
Palästinalied was written at the time of the Fifth Crusade (1217-1221). Its subject is the Christian gospel told from the perspective of a pilgrim setting foot in the Holy Land. The song's conclusion refers to the crusades themselves, asserting that, in view of the claim of all three Abrahamic religions to the land of Palestine, the Christian claim is just (Al diu werlt diu strîtet her / Wir sîn an der rehten ger / Reht ist, daz er uns gewer "All the world is warring here [in the Holy Land] / Our claim is the just one / It is right that He [God] grant it").
1. Álrêrst lébe ich mir werde,
1. Life’s true worth at last beginneth,
2. Lands, the greatest, goodliest, fairest,
3. Here He was baptized with water,
5. Down to hell the Son descended
6. When He quelled the fiend and ended
8. Here a day of dreadful summons
11. That this land they do inherit
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 (among others):
- 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)
- Datura Medieval Music (album Alpha et Omega, 2001)
- Finisterra (album Kein Evoë - Kein Requiem, 2002)
- Unto Ashes (EP I Cover You With Blood, 2003)
- Heimataerde (instrumental), album Gotteskrieger (2005)
- Omnia (in "Teutates," album PaganFolk, 2006)
- Luc Arbogast (album Hortus Dei, 2006)
- Folkstone (album Sgangogatt, 2011)
- In Extremo (album Quid Pro Quo, 2016)
- The Early Music Consort of London (album Music of the Crusades)
Lou Harrison's String Quartet Set's 1st movement takes much of its melody from this song.
- Walther's presence in Vienna is recorded for 1217, and again for 1219, after the return of Duke Leopold VI from the crusade. It is not known whether Walther himself participated in Leopold's crusade.
- Frank Carr Nicholson, "Walther Von Der Vogelweide," in Old German Love Songs: Translated from the Minnesingers of the 12th to 14th Centuries (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1907), 71-73. (text was published in 1907, making it part of the public domain in the United States of America)
- Listen/Anhören altemusik.net
- 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