I participated recently in a choir where we worked on Crato Bütner’s motet Wir dancken dir, Herr Jesu Christ. This work is not performed frequently and, apparently, the few copies of the score that are around derive from a manuscript preserved in Uppsala University Library. It is a baroque composition, so expectably spelling etc. differs from the contemporary. (Needless to add, my command of German is limited.)

I quote one stanza of the text:

Und wie der Schächer zur rechten Hand
auf seine Buße Gnade für dir fandt,
also bitt ich gib du mir _
über meine Sünde, o Christe _,
durch dein rosinfarbes Blut
daß du vergoßen aus sanftem Mut.

Emphasis mine. (Both the rhythm and the rhyming pattern indicate two missing words; that is however immaterial here.)

We were a bit puzzled by the collocation rosinfarbes Blut. According to Duden, the contemporary meaning is self-explanatory: rosinfarben means von der Farbe einer Rosine. The word would appear to be infrequent.

As this seemed the wrong colour for blood, I had an online glimpse into Historisches Lexikon deutscher Farbbezeichnungen, which seems to document rosinfarbes for many different colours, from rose to crimson to raisin-coloured.

I would like, if possible, to get more background for the meaning usage of this word. In particular, my questions are:

  • whether it is at all used nowadays;

  • how the meaning has shifted, and whether it could have stood for different colours depending on the collocation;

  • what the etymology is for this word.

  • As an afterthought, perhaps Bütner opted for the -i- spelling variant also to achieve better resonance: the short phrase rosinfarbes Blut happily accomodates all the vowels (umlaut excluded): -o-i-a-e-u-. The line introduces a new musical theme, and is repeated three times (I think), so the effect is magnificent.
    – anemone
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 22:26

2 Answers 2


"Rosinrot" was a variant of "rosenrot"

In addition to the rarely used term depciting the color of raisins "rosinrot" used to be a variant of "rosenrot" for red as a rose. This color was used for intense red colors:

Dürft' ich sie umfahn und küssen auf den rosenrothen Mund. Uhland

Until today we may hear "rosige Wangen", "rosige Lippen" even though it appears to be less frequent.

For colors, building a composite adjective with the actual main color (e.g. veilchenblau, karottengelb) or the suffix -farbig is also possible (veilchenfarbig, karottenfarbig).

Obviouly when using "rosinfarbig" as another possible adjective Crato Bütner was influenced by Martin Luther who preferably used "rosinrot" in his German translation of The Holy Bible:

enter image description here

Martin Luther: Biblia, Das ist, die gantze heilige Schrifft Deudsch (1535)

  • Thank you. So it would seem that 'rosinfarbes' is primarily deep red, and the "raisin" trail is merely incidental.
    – anemone
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 17:33
  • Yeah entirely incidental, as the etymology of "Rosine" (like English raisin) is from French raisin (Latin racemus = berry) whereas "Rose" (rose) is from Latin rosa. "Rot" and red is a very old word in all Indo-European language from Indian rudhiráḥ.
    – Takkat
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 22:23
  • 2
    @Takkat: The Sanskrit word is not the source: it’s simply another reflex of the Proto-Indo-European root h1reudh-, though where English *red and German rot are from the o-grade adjective h1roudhós, the Sanskrit word is from the zero-grade form *h1rudhrós (along with Latin *ruber and Greek eruthrós). Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 23:45
  • @BrianM.Scott thank you - we can go further back in time as long as there are sources ;) "The only color for which a definite common PIE root word has been found." says etymonline.com/…
    – Takkat
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 7:53

Actually, the link you gave states

durch dein rosenfarbes Blut

"rosenfarbes Blut" translates to "rose-coloured blood" which stands simply for:
red blood.

  • True. The CPDL edition gives 'rosenfarbes'. My edition gives 'rosinfarbes' though. (The script we used did not come from CPDL.) Funny thing is, 'rosinfarbes' exists and was historically used for all those shades of red, in particular collocated with blood, as I try to explain in the post. So I just wondered. (Admittedly, our edition contained a few misprints.)
    – anemone
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 15:50
  • You're right, apparently it's just a spelling variant. Thanks. (I'm accepting Takkat's answer as it's spoonfeeding more of the story.)
    – anemone
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 15:43

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