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Unser Liebe Fraue

German mercenary song

Unser Liebe Fraue ("Our Dear Lady") is a16th century German  ballad in honor of Our Lady. The German Landsknechts were an important military force composed of mercenary foot soldiers who offered their services to emperors, kings and nobles throughout the late 15th and 16th centuries. Consisting predominantly of German  pike men and supporting foot soldiers, they achieved a reputation for their skill and expertise on the field. They were also well known for their colorful and flamboyant uniforms.

Formed by the Holy Roman German Emperor Maximilian I in 1487, the Landsknecht aimed to challenge the dominance of the Swiss mercenary regiments. This was achieved through their early adoption of cannons and firearms.

Unser liebe Fraue is here interpreted by the Botho Lukas Chor. This is a modern rendition of the song; the vocal harmonies and instrumentation are not original, although the words are. Both the melody and underlying harmony are included in the sheet music below.

Description taken from “Historical Recordings” YouTube channel.

Listen to Unser liebe fraue

German lyrics:

1. Unser Liebe Fraue
Von kalten Bronnen,
Bescher' uns armen Landsknecht'
Eine warme Sonnen!
Lasst uns nicht erfrieren,
Wohl in des Wirtes Haus,
Ziehen wir mit vollem Säckel,
Und leerem wieder 'naus.

Die Trommel, die Trommel,
Larman, larman larman,
Hei ridi-ridiran,
Ridiran, frisch voran!
Landsknecht voran!

2. Der Trommler schlägt Parade,
Die seid'nen Fahnen weh'n,
Jetzt heißt's auf Glück und Gnade
Ins Feld spazieren gehen.
Das Korn reift auf den Feldern,
Es schnappt der Hecht im Strom,
Heiß weht der Wind von Geldern,
Herauf den Berg op Zoom.

Die Trommel, die Trommel,
Larman, larman larman
Hei ridirideran,
Ridiran, frisch voran!
Landsknecht voran!

English translation:

1. Our Dear Lady
Of Kaltenbrunn
Bestow to us poor landsknechts
A warm sun!
Don't let us die of cold,
Into the landlord's pub
We go with pockets full of money,
But they are empty when we go out.

The drum, the drum,
Larman, larman, larman, (1)
Hi ridi-ridiran,
Ridiran, heartily ahead!
Landsknecht ahead!

2. The drummer drums parade,
The silken banners wave,
Now it's up to good luck and grace
When we march for battle.
The grains ripen in the fields,
The luce hunts in the stream,
Hot blows the wind from Geldern,
Up to the Berg op Zoom.

The drum, the drum,
Larman, larman, larman,
Hi ridi-ridiran,
Ridiran, heartily ahead
Landsknecht ahead!

lyrics and music Unser liebe Fraue

For a larger PDF version, click here.

  1. The German word "larman" appears to be a word that is now obsolete. It seems the word may have come from the Italian "all'arme" ("to arms"), according to German Wiktionary. Others have suggested that the word may have been military jargon in use at the time, and would have meant "alarm" or "get ready".

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