The Faithful Hussar

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"The Faithful Hussar" (German: "Der treue Husar") is a German song based on a folk song known in various versions since the 19th century. In its current standard form, it is a carnival song from Cologne since the 1920s.

Origin and history[edit]

A source claims, that in the estate of Caspar Josef Carl von Mylius [de] (1749–1831) a handwritten version of the text from 1781 was found, that Mylius brought from Austria to Cologne.[1] The proof was found after his death in 1831. This version is supposedly the oldest ever. Since this version obviously has not been published, the exact wording and the correspondence with later versions can not currently be verified.

In 1808 Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano in the third volume of their collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn published a version of the text under the title "Die gute Sieben" (The good seven).[2] Achim von Arnim had compiled from this text from five different versions, that had been recorded by Bernhard Joseph Docen, Auguste Pattberg, Bettina von Arnim and two unknown senders.[3]

In 1816 Johann Gustav Gottlieb Büsching first published a melody to the song, that has been recorded by Carl Hohnbaum in Franconia, which does not match today's popular tune.[4]

In Münsterische Geschichten (1825) we find a version similar in wording to the now popular one.[5] In 1856 Ludwig Erk in the first edition of his collection Deutscher Liederhort published three different versions of the song.[6] The 1893 version of the same collection compiled by Franz Magnus Böhme contains seven different versions of the text and five different melodies.[7]

In the earliest published versions of the text, the acting person is mostly referred to as Knabe (boy) or Edelknabe (squire). The editors of the Wunderhorn also received two entries referring to a "brave soldier", which were not used for the Wunderhorn version though.[3] Evidence for versions of the text referring to a "hussar" as acting in person date back to the 1880s only: they were recorded in 1880 at Imbden near Dransfeld (Province of Hanover) and in 1885 in Oberlahnkreis and Kreis Wetzlar.[7]

The folk song collector Elizabeth Marriage points in 1902 to the prevalence of the song and mentions the hero – in their version of the text "a young hussar" – appears "mostly as a fine boy, also young boy, brave soldier, red hussar".[8]

Today's popular version of the song was composed by Cologne Carnival composer and former military bandleader Heinrich Frantzen (1880–1953)[9][10] as a marching song.[11] Cologne-based music publisher Gustav Gerdes OHG (now part of Hans Gerig publishers in Bergisch Gladbach) published the song in 1924. The march was allegedly composed on the occasion of establishing the Cologne Carnival society "K.G Treuer Husar blau gelb" in 1925.[12] Originally, the lyrics taken from the folk song were added only the refrain-like part of the piece. Which version of the text served as the model to Frantzen is not known. The tune does not match any of the melodies published in the 19th century. It is unclear whether Frantzen did cite an existing tune, or whether the march was completely composed by himself. The note in a sheet music issue of original publisher states: "This is the only popular and protected version of the 'Faithful Hussar' with the additional composition by Heinrich Frantzen".[13] Joseph "Jupp" Frantzen, the composer's son, allegedly has added the additional lyrics[14][15] subsequently.


The ballad is about a soldier or – depending on the version of the text – young boy who is separated from his beloved one, and is only allowed to return to her when she is already mortally ill. While the first verses are largely the same in most versions, there are strong deviations in the later verses. Since nowadays almost always only the first verse – usually in a happy mood drinking – is sung in Germany, the sad love story is usually not perceived.[16]


Es war einmal ein treuer Husar,
Der liebt' sein Mädchen ein ganzes Jahr,
Ein ganzes Jahr und noch viel mehr,
Die Liebe nahm kein Ende mehr.

Der Knab' der fuhr ins fremde Land,
Derweil ward ihm sein Mädchen krank,
Sie ward so krank bis auf den Tod,
Drei Tag, drei Nacht sprach sie kein Wort.

Und als der Knab' die Botschaft kriegt,
Daß sein Herzlieb am Sterben liegt,
Verließ er gleich sein Hab und Gut,
Wollt seh'n, was sein Herzliebchen tut.

Ach Mutter bring' geschwind ein Licht,
Mein Liebchen stirbt, ich seh' es nicht,
Das war fürwahr ein treuer Husar,
Der liebt' sein Mädchen ein ganzes Jahr.

Und als er zum Herzliebchen kam,
Ganz leise gab sie ihm die Hand,
Die ganze Hand und noch viel mehr,
Die Liebe nahm kein Ende mehr.

"Grüß Gott, grüß Gott, Herzliebste mein!
Was machst du hier im Bett allein?"
"Hab dank, hab Dank, mein treuer Knab'!
Mit mir wird's heißen bald: ins Grab!"

"Grüß Gott, grüß Gott, mein feiner Knab.
Mit mir wills gehen ins kühle Grab."
"Ach nein, ach nein, mein liebes Kind,
Dieweil wir so Verliebte sind."

"Ach nein, ach nein, nicht so geschwind,
Dieweil wir zwei Verliebte sind;
Ach nein, ach nein, Herzliebste mein,
Die Lieb und Treu muß länger sein."

Er nahm sie gleich in seinen Arm,
Da war sie kalt und nimmer warm;
"Geschwind, geschwind bringt mir ein Licht!
Sonst stirbt mein Schatz, daß's niemand sicht."

Und als das Mägdlein gestorben war,
Da legt er's auf die Totenbahr.
Wo krieg ich nun sechs junge Knab'n,
Die mein Herzlieb zu Grabe trag'n?

Wo kriegen wir sechs Träger her?
Sechs Bauernbuben die sind so schwer.
Sechs brave Husaren müssen es sein,
Die tragen mein Herzliebchen heim.

Jetzt muß ich tragen ein schwarzes Kleid,
Das ist für mich ein großes Leid,
Ein großes Leid und noch viel mehr,
Die Trauer nimmt kein Ende mehr.[17]

A faithful soldier, without fear,
He loved his girl for one whole year,
For one whole year and longer yet,
His love for her, he'd ne'er forget.

This youth to foreign land did roam,
While his true love, fell ill at home.
Sick unto death, she no one heard.
Three days and nights she spoke no word.

And when the youth received the news,
That his dear love, her life may lose,
He left his place and all he had,
To see his love, went this young lad...

Oh Mother, bring forth a light,
My darling dies, I do not see,
That was indeed a faithful hussar,
He loves his girl a whole year.

And when he came to the heart,
Very softly, she gave him her hand,
The whole hand and much more,
Love never came to an end.

"Greetings, greetings, my dearest!
What are you doing alone in bed?"
"Thanks, thanks, my faithful lad!
With me it will soon be in the grave."

"Greetings, greetings, my fine boy.
Let me go to the cool grave."
"Oh no, oh no, my dear child,
Because we are so in love. "

"Oh no, oh no, not so fast,
Because we are two lovers;
Oh no, oh no, my heart tells me,
The love and faith must last longer."

He took her in his arms to hold,
She was not warm, forever cold.
Oh quick, oh quick, bring light to me,
Else my love dies, no one will see...

And when the maid had died,
Then he puts on the funeral.
Where do I get six young boys,
My dearly beloved?

Pallbearers we need two times three,
Six farmhands they are so heavy.
It must be six of soldiers brave,
To carry my love to her grave.

A long black coat, I must now wear.
A sorrow great, is what I bear.
A sorrow great and so much more,
My grief it will end nevermore.[18]

Impact and adaptations[edit]

The song is prominently featured in the Stanley Kubrick film Paths of Glory,[19] where a female German prisoner, portrayed by Kubrick's later wife Christiane Kubrick, sings this song in front of French soldiers, stirring strong emotions among them.[20] In France the words were adapted by Francis Lemarque into a song called Marjolaine (in English the herb Marjoram, but used as a girl's name in France) which was a hit for various artistes from 1957 on, although the film was banned in that country until 1975.[21]

"The Faithful Hussar" is also the title of a little-known German movie from 1954, directed by Rudolf Schündler.[22] This film inspired recordings by British artists Ted Heath and Vera Lynn (as "Don't Cry My Love"), both of which hit the Billboard Top 100.[citation needed] American artists such as Louis Armstrong also are known to have played the piece.[23]

Further reading[edit]

  • Theo Mang, Sunhilt Mang (eds.): Der Liederquell. Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2007, ISBN 978-3-7959-0850-8, pp. 520–521.
  • Heinz Rölleke (ed.): Das Volksliederbuch. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 1993, ISBN 3-462-02294-6, pp. 220–221.


  1. ^ Website of "Rote Funken", the oldest carnival corps in Cologne Archived 2014-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano (Hrsg.): Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Alte deutsche Lieder. Volume 3. Mohr und Zimmer, Heidelberg 1808, pp. 34–36 (Online at Deutsches Textarchiv)
  3. ^ a b Heinz Rölleke (ed.): Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Lesarten und Erläuterungen, Teil 3 (= Band 9,3 of the Frankfurt Brentano Edition). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1978, ISBN 3-17-002284-9, pp. 63–71.
  4. ^ Johann Gustav Büsching: Wöchentliche Nachrichten für Freunde der Geschichte, Kunst und Gelahrtheit des Mittelalters. Volume II. Holäuser, Breslau 1816, pp. 292 f. (online, p. 292, at Google Books).
  5. ^ Friedrich Arnold Steinmann (Hrsg.): Münsterische Geschichten, Sagen und Legenden: nebst einem Anhange von Volksliedern und Sprüchwörtern. Coppenrath, Münster 1825, pp. 218–219 (online, p. 218, at Google Books).
  6. ^ Ludwig Erk: Deutscher Liederhort. Enslin, Berlin 1856, pp. 95–99 (online bei Wikisource).
  7. ^ a b Ludwig Erk, Franz Magnus Böhme (ed.): Deutscher Liederhort. Volume 1. Breitkopf und Härtel, Leipzig 1893 (reprint: Olms, Hildesheim 1963), pp. 329–333.
  8. ^ Elizabeth Marriage: Volkslieder aus der badischen Pfalz. Niemeyer, Halle 1902, pp. 38–39 (online, p. 38, at Google Books).
  9. ^ Frantzen, Heinr. In: Paul Frank, Wilhelm Altmann: Kurzgefaßtes Tonkünstler-Lexikon, Part 1, reprint of 1936 edition, 15. ed.., Heinrichshofen's Verlag, Wilhelmshaven 1971, pp. 171.
  10. ^ LCCN no2009148796
  11. ^ Der treue Husar, performed by Musikkorps der Schutzpolizei Berlin, directed by Heinz Winkel, at
  12. ^ K.G. Treuer Husar blau-gelb von 1925 e.V. Köln
  13. ^ „Dieses ist die einzige populäre und geschützte Fassung des ‚treuen Husaren‘ mit der zusätzlichen Komposition von Heinrich Frantzen“. Die Super-Stimmungs-Polonaise (GG 438). Gerig, Köln n.d. [ca. 1966]
  14. ^ Lyrics in Cologne und standard German
  15. ^ Version with complete lyrics performed by Willy Millowitsch,
  16. ^ Theo Mang, Sunhilt Mang (eds.): Der Liederquell. Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2007, ISBN 978-3-7959-0850-8, pp. 520–521.
  17. ^ Lyrics at
  18. ^ Loosely translated, in part from .
  19. ^ Paths of Glory on IMDb
  20. ^ Film clip at
  21. ^ Film clip at
  22. ^ Der Treue Husar (1954) on IMDb
  23. ^ Minn, Michael; Scott Johnson. "The Louis Armstrong Discography". Archived from the original on 11 January 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014.

External links[edit]