Verlangen thut mich krencken

Monophonic Lied
Anon. (German, c. 1450)
Found in: Oxford Anthology of Music, Medieval Music. Eds. Marrocco & Sandon. London: Oxford University Press, 1977; page 233.

Original German text:

Verlangen thut mich krencken,
Verlangen tut mir wee,
Verlangen bringt gedencken
Darumb on frewd ich stee.
Verlangen will nit wencken
Wye es mir darumb gee.

Translation from book (not in singable form):

Longing makes me love-sick,
Longing causes me pain,
Longing brings unhappy thoughts,
Because of that I am without joy.
Longing will not yield,
Whatever happens to me.

My translation:

Longing makes me cranky,
And longing makes me cry,
It fills my heart with sadness
Without a reason why.
It follows me and pains me
And causes me to sigh.

Additional verses, by me:

Who is it that I long for,
You ask, and justly so!
I say, I long for someone
Who doesn't even know,
Whose heart's already taken--
I cannot tell him so.

I see him by the wayside,
I see him all too often,
The sight of him defeats me
And makes my heart to soften.
His eyes will always haunt me
'Till I am in my coffin.

Now if you should be wond'ring
Why I am always sighing,
Well, now you know the story,
And damned if I am lying.
My longing will not leave me
And that's why I am crying.

And the German lyrics again...

Verlangen thut mich krencken,
Verlangen tut mir wee,
Verlangen bringt gedencken
Darumb on frewd ich stee.
Verlangen will nit wencken
Wye es mir darumb gee.

Singable translation/new verses, J. Friedman, 3/8/00.


I'm not an expert in medieval/Renaissance music, but I can claim honestly that I love it and listen to it (yes, even in the car), which is more than many SCA bards can say. In fact, one of the first aspects of SCA period that fascinated me was its music, which I was introduced to in high school in the form of madrigals and motets. From there I bought cassettes (this was before the days of CDs, though not too long before) that anthologized particular types of medieval music, or music from different countries or courts. And over time I have studied and learned the basics.

I am also not usually an authenticity maven. Those who know me know this. But it genuinely bugs me that with the huge corpus of extant medieval/Renaissance music from all over the (then) known world, so many people persist in merrily filling bardic circles with post-period English/Irish/Scottish folk songs, bad filks (as opposed to good filks!), and mediocre renditions of songs from recordings by local bards. These are not BAD things to have in a bardic circle, but when I think of all the wonderful PERIOD music out there, what is being left out begins to bother me.

When I started in the SCA, lo these many, uh, 2 1/2 years ago, I expected to find people who were heavy into REAL medieval/Renaissance music. I have found a few, but these people are mostly too busy or too discouraged to indulge their love for this music in the context of SCA events. It has been my dream since I began in the SCA to humanize and promote real period music when I can, but never at the risk of boring my listeners.

And so I embark on this endeavor, knowing that I tread a fine line...you judge whether I cross over into the land of complete boredom.

I suppose I should say something about this song. I love this little song. "Krencken" does not translate as "cranky" according to my friend Lady Kontzel Haberlein, but "painful", which is close enough for me. My singable translation of the German text, plus the three original verses, are on a theme older than mud: I'm in love with someone, he isn't available, I am not happy about this. (BTW, this is not necessarily autobiographical of a current situation, but we've all felt this way.) Yes it's an insignificant text, but let's face it, love songs have NEVER been required to have more content than this.

The cliches I've used (heart softening at the sight of the loved one, eyes which haunt the lover, the idea of loving against one's will and pain coming from love, the singer who assures listeners (s)he isn't lying, etc.) are typical of the troubadour/trouvere songs of France and the minnesinger songs of Germany (among many other genres). Someday I may be convinced to document this for an A & S Tournament.

One more note: I must apologize for rhyming 'often' and 'soften' with a dud word like 'coffin'. But YOU try to find another logical, period rhyme for those words!


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Last modified: 03/8/00