The Palästinalied ("Palestine Song", also known as Kreuzlied "Song of the Cross") is a song written in the early 13th century by Walther von der Vogelweide, the most celebrated lyric poet of Middle High German literature. It is one of the few songs by Walther for which a melody has survived.
The Palästinalied was written at the time of the Fifth Crusade (1217-1221). Its oldest attestation is in the Kleine Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (ms. A, ca. 1270), in seven stanzas. The oldest source for the melody is the so-called Münster fragment (ms. Z, 14th century).
The subject of the song 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 Christians, Jews and "heathens" (Muslims) to the Holy Land, the Christian claim is the just one (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").
The Kleine Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (ms. A) is the oldest source of the text (dated to the 1270s), giving seven stanzas. Codex Manesse (ms. C, fol 126rv, dated c. 1304) has nine stanzas. Other manuscripts contribute an additional four, for a total of thirteen distinct stanzas. Of these, one (recorded as 4th stanza in ms. Z) is clearly younger than the original composition. On the remaining five stanzas not in ms. A, there is no expert consensus as to whether they should be regarded as Walter's.
The nine stanzas in C are numbered C21–C29, the seven stanzas in A are A50–A56. Three stanzas are identical between A and C (C22=A51, C23=A52, C29=A56) and another have only minor differences, such as transposed word order (C21=A50, C25–27 = A53–55). The fourth and eighth stanzas in C (C24, C28) are not recorded in A.
|Original text||Rhyming English translation||Close English translation|
[Mê dann hundert tûsent wunder
The earliest source for the melody is the Münster fragment (ms. Z), written about a century after Walther's death. The Carmina Burana ms. (c. 1230) contains the first stanza of Palästinalied (CB 211a) with neumes, which are however insufficient for reconstructing a melody. The stanza is given as an appendix to Alte clamat Epicurus (CB 211), which was to be sung in the same melody.
With the increased popularity of Medieval rock, Neofolk and related musical styles in the late 1980s and 1990s, the 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)
- Finisterra (album Kein Evoë - Kein Requiem, 2002)
- Unto Ashes (EP I Cover You With Blood, 2003)
- Heimataerde (instrumental), album Gotteskrieger (2005)
- Eisenfunk (Dance/electronic), album Schmerzfrequenz (2005)
- Omnia (in "Teutates," album PaganFolk, 2006)
- Luc Arbogast (album Hortus Dei, 2006)
- In Extremo (album Quid Pro Quo, 2016)
Lou Harrison's String Quartet Set's 1st movement takes much of its melody from this song.
- Both titles are modern conventions. Palästinalied was introduced in the debate on the interpretation of the melody discovered in 1912. R. Wustmann, "Walthers Palästinalied", Sammelbände der internationalen musikgesellschaft 13, 247–250. Kreuzlied is a more generic term for religious songs in troubadour or minnesang literature; there are two Kreuzlieder attributed to Walther, edited under this name by Pfeiffer (1864). The "Palästinalied", being Walther's second and more famous Kreuzlied, is often referred to as Walthers Kreuzlied by the late 19th century. W. Mettin, "Zu Walthers Kreuzlied", Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur (PBB) 18 (1893), 209–214.
- Konzett, Matthias (2000). "Walther von der Vogelweide". Encyclopedia of German Literature (first ed.). London, England: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 977. ISBN 1-57958-138-2. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
- 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.
- Münster, Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen / Staatsarchiv, Msc. VII, 51, dated to c. 1330 (related to Jenaer Liederhandschrift). Discovered in 1910 as binding of an economic ledger of 1522. thulb.uni-jena.de, mr1314.de. Raphael Molitor, "Die Lieder des Münsterischen Fragmentes", Sammelbände der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft 12.3 (April/June 1911), 475–500. Franz Jostes, "Bruchstück einer Münsterschen Minnesängerhandschrift mit Noten", ZfdA 53 (1912), 348–357.
- ed. Lachmann (1843)
- 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. Nicholson's translation corresponds to the seven stanzas of ms. A.
- The stanzas here numbered 4, 6a, 8 and 8a are not in ms. A and are considered to be of doubtful authenticity.
4 and 8 are in ms. C (Codex Manesse), 6a and 8a are the ninth and final of twelve stanzas in ms. Z, respectively.
- A "third" stanza , preserved only in two manuscripts (among them ms. Z, where it is the fourth out of twelve stanzas, the "final" stanza 9 being in second place), is considered not original to Walther's composition and rarely printed in editions of the text (given in a footnote in Wilmanns 1886, p. 94).
- Wilmanns (1886:94)
- Listen/Anhören altemusik.net
- Karl Lachmann (ed.), Die Gedichte Walthers von der Vogelweide (1843), 14–16 (14th ed. Christoph Cormeau, 1996, ISBN 3-11-013608-2).
- Franz Pfeiffer, Deutsche Classiker des Mittelalters (1864), 151–158.
- Wilhelm Wilmanns. Walther von der Vogelweide (1886), 92–94.
- 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 PDF