Palästinalied

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Troubadours Singing the Glories of the Crusades, a nineteenth century wood engraving by the French illustrator Gustave Doré

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.

Text[edit]

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).[1] 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").

Full Poem:

1. Álrêrst lébe ich mir werde,
sît mîn sündic ouge siht
daz here lant und ouch die erde,
der man sô vil êren giht.
ez ist geschehen, des ich ie bat:
ích bin komen an die stat,
dâ got menischlîchen trat.

2. Schoeniu lant, rîch unde hêre,
swaz ich der noch hân gesehen,
sô bist dûs ir aller êre.
waz ist wunders hie geschehen!
daz ein magt ein kint gebar,
hêre über áller engel schar,
wáz daz niht ein wunder gar?

3. Hie liez er sich reine toufen,
daz der mensche reine sî.
dô liez er sich hie verkoufen,
daz wir eigen wurden frî.
anders waeren wir verlorn.
wól dir, spér, kriuze únde dorn!
wê dir, heiden, dáz ist dir zorn!

4. Dô ér sich wolte über úns erbarmen,
dô leit er den grimmen tôt,
ér vil rîch über úns vil armen,
daz wir komen ûz der nôt.
daz in dô des niht verdrôz,
dâst ein wunder alze grôz,
aller wunder übergenôz.

5. Hinnen vuor der sun ze helle,
vón dem grábe dâ ínne lac.
des wás der vater ie geselle
únd der geist, den nieman mac
sunder scheiden, éz sî ein,
sleht und ebener danne ein zein,
als er Abrahâme erschein.

6. Dô ér den tuifel álsô geschande
daz nie keiser baz gestreit,
dô vuor ér her wíder ze lande.
dô huob sich der juden leit:
dáz er, hêrre, ir huote brach
und dáz man ín sît lebendig sach,
dén ir hant sluog unde stach.

7. Da nâch was er in dem e lande
vierzic tage, dô vúor er dar,
dannen in sîn vater sande.
sînen geist, der uns bewar,
dén sant ér hin wider ze hant.
heilig ist daz selbe lant,
sîn náme, der íst vor got erkant.

8. In daz lant hât er gesprochen
einen angeslîchen tac,
dâ der weise wirt gerochen
und diu witwe klagen mac
und der arme den gewalt,
den man hât mit in gestalt.
wol im dort, der hie vergalt!

9. Únserre lántréhter tihten
fristet dâ niemannes klage,
wan er wíl dâ zé stunt rihten.
sô íst ez an dem lesten tage.
und swer deheine schulde hie lât
unverebent: wie der stât
dórt, dâ er pfánt noch bürgen hât.

10. Ír lât iuch des niht verdriezen,
daz ich noch gesprochen hân?
sô wil ich die rede entsliezen
kurzwîlen und iuch wizzen lân,
swáz got wúnders hie noch lie,
mit der werlte ie begie,
daz huob sich dort und endet hie.

11. Kristen, juden und die heiden
jehent, daz díz ir erbe sî.
gót, müeze éz ze rehte scheiden
durch die sîne namen drî.
al diu werlt, diu strîtet her:
wir sîn an der rehten ger.
reht ist, daz er uns gewer!

12. Mê dann hundert tûsent wunder
hie in disem lande sint,
dâ von ich niht mê besunder
kan gesagen als ein kint,
wan ein teil von unser ê.
swem des niht genúoge, der gê
zúo den júden, die ságent im mê.

13. Vrowe min, durch iuwer güete
nu vernemet mine clage,
daz ir durch iuwer hochgemüete
nicht erzuernet, waz ich sage.
Vil lihte daz ein tumber man
misseredet, als er wol kann.
daran solt ir iuch nicht keren an.

1. Life’s true worth at last beginneth,
Now my sinful eyes behold

The holy land, the earth that winneth

Fame for glories manifold.

I have won my lifelong prayer:

I am in the country where

God in human shape did fare.

2. Lands, the greatest, goodliest, fairest,
Many such mine eyes have seen;

O’er them all the crown thou bearest.

Think what wonders here have been!

From a Maid a babe did spring,

O’er the angel hosts a king;

Was not that a wondrous thing?

3. Here He was baptized with water,
That men might be pure as He.

Here He let them sell Him later,

That we thralls might so be free.

We had else been lost, I wis.

Spear, Cross, thorn, your praise it is!

Heathens, woe! ye rage at this.

5. Down to hell the Son descended
From the grave wherein he lay.

Him the Father still attended

And the Ghost, whom no man may

E’er disjoin; the three are one:

Shaft so smooth and straight there’s none,

As to Abraham it was shown.

6. When He quelled the fiend and ended
Such a fight as king ne’er fought,

Here to earth He reascended.

Sorrow to the Jews it brought;

Through their guard He broke amain;

Living was He seen again,

Whom their hands had pierced and slain.

8. Here a day of dreadful summons
He appointed for this land.

Orphan’s wrongs and widowed woman’s

Shall be righted by His hand.

Then the poor man may declare

All the violence he must bear.

Penance here brings blessing there!

11. That this land they do inherit
Christians, Jews, and heathens claim.

God adjudge it where the merit

Lieth, in His threefold name!

All the world strives here, we see;

Yet we hold the rightful plea:

God will grant it rightfully.[2]

Modern reception[edit]

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):

Palästinalied-Projekt is a compilation of 20 performances of the song (2002; Palästinalied at Discogs).

The Austrian Ensemble for Early Music Dulamans Vröudenton recorded a reconstructionist performance of "Palästinalied".[3]

Lou Harrison's String Quartet Set's 1st movement takes much of its melody from this song.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ 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