from Volkslieder (Folksongs) and sometimes misattributed to Johannes Sommer (c1545 - 1622), as Johannes Olorinus
Translation © by Linda Godry

Was haben doch die Gäns getan
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Was haben doch die Gäns getan,
dass so viel müssen's Leben lan?
Ist's wahr, dass sie verraten han
Sankt Martin den heil'gen Mann?

So müssen's mit dem Leben zwar
Den Zehnten geben alle Jahr.
Bei süssem Most und kühlem Wein
Vertreibt man ihn'n das Dadern fein.

So lasset uns all insgemein
Bei g'bratenen Gänsen fröhlich sein!

Die Gäns mit ihrem Dadern, da da da da da da.
Mit ihrem Gschrei und Schnadern da da da da da da da.
Sankt Martin han verraten, da da da da da da.
Darum tut man sie braten.
Dadada dadada dadada dadada dadada dada.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with MartinsGanß ... geschrieben durch Johannem Olorinum Variscum, ed. by Joh. Francken, Magdeburg: Brauns Buchhandlung, 1609; and confirmed with Alte hoch- und niederdeutsche Volkslieder, erster Band, zweite Abtheilung, ed. by Johann Ludwig Uhland, Stuttgart und Tübingen: J. G. Cotta'sche Verlag, 1845, pages 570 - 571. Appears in 'viertes Buch', in Martinslieder. Note: it is perhaps because Johannes Sommer (or Johannes Olorinus) wrote a lengthy commentary about this folk song that it is sometimes attributed to him.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Linda Godry) , "St. Martin-Goose", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Linda Godry , Melanie Trumbull

This text was added to the website: 2010-02-11
Line count: 15
Word count: 100

St. Martin‑Goose
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
What harm did those geese do,
That so many have to pay with their lives?
Is it true, that they betrayed
St. Martin the holy man?

Now they have to pay in kind
Their tithe year after year.
And drinking must and cool wine
We pay them back their quacking.

So let us all join together
And merrily feast on roast goose!

Those geese with their quacking, qua qua qua qua qua qua.
With their alarm and cackling, qua qua qua qua qua qua qua qua.
Have betrayed Saint Martin, qua qua qua qua qua qua.
Therefore they get roasted.
quaquaqua quaquaqua quaquaqua quaquaqua quaquaqua qua qua.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2010 by Linda Godry, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2010-02-11
Line count: 15
Word count: 107