Music to Write Realmgard to: Hildebrandslied

“I have so heard it said:
That once came together in single combat
Hildebrand and Hadubrand between two hosts”

Named for a type of ancient standing stone, Menhir is a German Metal band that doesn’t have a great web presence, but has been around since 1995.

Founded in Thuringia, Germany and writing largely about ancient history and folklore, it’s not surprising that they’ve got a song about a major piece of German folklore.

In brief, the Hildebrandslied is an Old High German alliterative poem from the 800s, telling the story of events in the 400s against the backdrop of the conflicts between Ostrogothic Theodoric the Great and Roman usurper of barbarian origin Odoacer.

Specifically, two warriors meet “between two armies”, presumably as their army’s respective champion in a single combat. The two warriors, Hildebrand and Hadubrand each give, as John Cena would say, “fine speech” before inevitably end up fighting.

Oh, and it turns out their long-lost father and son.

Based on what I’m reading, the Hildebrandslied has confounded generations of scholars.

Quoth Wikipedia:

The text is highly problematic: as a unique example of its genre, with many words not found in other German texts, its interpretation remains controversial. Difficulties in reading some of the individual letters and identifying errors made by the scribes mean that a definitive edition of the poem is impossible. One of the most puzzling features is the dialect, which shows a mixture of High German and Low German spellings which cannot represent any actually spoken dialect.

full article here

Notably, the ending of the poem does not survive. Although there are related or later poems derived from the original that do reveal the end of the duel — Hildebrand killing Hadubrand is the most common but there are also variations where the two reconcile peacefully — the original manuscript of the Old High German Hildebrandslied breaks off at basically the worst possible point: the two warriors have broken their shields in their fight … and then the manuscript breaks off in the middle of the line.

This is, incidentally, not uncommon for ancient manuscripts. Father time doesn’t really care about literary merits.

As far as I can tell, Menhir’s Hildebrandslied is just a word-for-for setting of the original poem to music — sung in what I believe is the original Old High German.

Which, incidentally, looks like this:

Ik gihorta ðat seggen
ðat sih urhettun ænon muotin
Hiltibrant enti Haðubrant untar heriun tuem
sunufatarungo iro saro rihtun
garutun se iro guðhamun gurtun sih iro suert ana
helidos ubar hringa do sie to dero hiltiu ritun

from Wikipedia.

Which, in English, is:

“I have so heard it said:
That once came together in single combat
Hildebrand and Hadubrand between two hosts
Father and son. Their fittings they fastened,
Securing their byrnies: bound their swords on
Over the ring-mail ere they rode to the fighting.”

as translated by Bruce McMenomy

And sounds like this:

The official Music to Write Realmgard to playlist has been updated to include this latest entry:

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