Over the years I’ve posted several choral versions of this extraordinarily beautiful late medieval German carol but there are of course many beautiful solo renditions of it available such as this one by the Freiburg Early Music Channel. If you’re not familiar with it you’re in for a treat, actually you’re in for a treat whether your familiar with it or not. It’s very old, there are versions of it known to have been sung in in Thuringia (Thüringen) during the fifteenth century and it almost certainly pre-dates that century. The melody is very simple and the lyrics are a typical medieval allegory. They recount a Christmas miracle of how The Virgin Mary was wandering through a forest of thorns holding the Infant Jesus to her breast. As they passed by the wild roses in the forest which had not bloomed for seven years burst in to flower. The barren thorn-wood represented the world fallen into sin and awaiting redemption and the miraculous flowering of the roses represented both Mary’s love for her child and the redemption brought to the world by Christ. I’ve included an English translation of all the verses below the video. Enjoy :-).
Text & Translation: Maria Durch ein Dornwald ging
Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging.
Blest Mary wanders through the forest of thorns,
Was trug Maria unter ihrem Herzen ?
What clasps she to her breast so close?
Da hab’n die Dornen Rosen getragen.
Fair roses bloom on every tree,
Wie soll dem Kind sein Name sein?
What shall this Infant calléd be?
Wer soll dem Kind sein Täufer sein?
Who shall proclaim this holy Name, ?
Was kriegt das Kind zum Patengeld?
What christening-gifts are given to him?
Wer hat erlöst die Welt allein?
Who is it who sets the world free from sin?