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Compare with this the lines from the hymn based on Johann Arndt's
“Gebet um Geduld in groszem Creutz" (Goed. 209):
St. XIV. “O heilger Geist, du Freudenöl,

Das Gott vom Himmel schicket,
Erfreue mich, gib meiner Seel
Was Mark und Bein erquicket!
Du bist der Geist der Herrlichkeit,
Weiszt, was für Freud und Seligkeit
Mein in dem Himmel warte.”

A pastor and poet whose spirit amidst the hardships of the war can not only remain undaunted but bring so large a measure of cheer to his flock is indeed destined to have an immortal name. It was the everpresent hardships of war, however, that made him long not merely for an earthly peace but also for spiritual rest. As an advocate of peace and contentment he has among his contemporaries no equal. Having hoped and prayed during the war for a cessation of hostilities and horrors he could at last burst forth at the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia in his magnificent

Gott Lob! nun ist erschollen
Das edle Fried- und Freudenswort.67

Furthermore he preaches patience and contentment with life's experiences. Notably does this appear in the poem “Gib dich zufrieden” (Goed. 274) where each stanza has these words as the refrain. Taking as his theme “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (Ps. XXXVII, 7) he reveals to his fellow-men the joys and comforts that await the true believers even though they must pass through pain, anxiety, and even death. As their tears are counted and their sighs are heard, so a day of rest is at hand when God shall receive the meek in the abundance of peace, and they shall then be exalted to inherit the land.'58 But how very deeply Gerhardt felt this yearning for spiritual as well as material peace is best seen from the constant recurrence of the root "Friede.” Of this word and its compounds we note 33 examples, and of “Ruhe," "Stille,” Rast” and similar words, 16.

Aside from the hymns of Cross and Consolation discussed above,59 which among Gerhardt's poems are by far the most numerous, and which gave him the widest opportunity to grasp the inner life of the Christian believer in its different tendencies and phases, the subjective development of his spiritual songs is shown in two directions—in the poetic glorification of


Goed. 95.

58 Cf. also the poem "Geduld ist euch vonnöten" (Goed. 267), where each of the 14 stanzas begins with the word “Geduld."

59 Cf. p. 21.


nature and of family life. Gerhardt's knowledge of nature is limited to the ideas set forth in Johann Arndt's6° Viertes Buch vom wahren Christentum. Following Arndt, Gerhardt believes the material as well as the spiritual phenomena on earth are influenced in a mysterious way by the heavens and their constellations; hence the prophetic significance of comets which he mentions in two poems. In the year 1618 just such a threatening “torch” had appeared to announce the frightful war. Fourteen years later another comet was regarded as prophecy of the death of the Swedish King. Naturally, then, in 1652 Gerhardt is terrified with all others at the appearance in the sky of the third “Flammenrute” (Goed. 104).

However, within this limited knowledge nature appears to him as of independent grandeur, wholly subservient to God and freely enjoyed by all Christians. In his life, too, as well as in his songs, Gerhardt is open to all the world and is at all times sensible to the appreciation of nature. It is a noteworthy characteristic of him that in one glance he includes with sense of fitness and artistic certainty both large and small, the most sublime and the most commonplace. In this wise he sings:

Die Erd ist fruchtbar, bringt herfür
Korn, Oel, Most, Brot, Wein und Bier,
Was Gott gefällt.

(Goed. 139, 49 ff.)

To Gerhardt the world lies in continual sunshine. 62 He scorns trouble, distress seems merely to accentuate happiness; from the horrors of the Thirty Years' War he turns to thank God for the return of peace,83 and to inspire his people with gratitude for the infinite mercy of the Most High. He celebrates evening and morning and takes us in summer through the flowering gardens of God, portrays rain and sunshine, earth's sorrows and joys.

The other direction of the subjectivity of Gerhardt's writing is that of the family life. In a time so bereft of virtues as the XVIIth century the firmly grounded idea of the home must be given first place. His own family life, cheered by domestic felicity, and the many contributions he made to occasional poetry bear testimony to this. For married life he sings the

Joh. Arndt, a Protestant theologian, 1555-1621. The “Vier Bücher" appeared in 1605. Cf. the references on pp. 63 ff. to his Paradiszgärtlein aller christl. Tugenden, 1612. 61 Goed. 104 and 142.

Even no. 15 which begins with a seemingly very pessimistic complaint about the disastrous weather and consequently meagre harvest closes with a prayer full of hope for the future.


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praise of quiet domesticity,64 picturing the Christian housewife in the midst of her surroundings, bringing joy and cheer to her husband, faithful in her tasks, ministering to the poor and teaching her children the Word of God. He closes the poem with the eulogy:

Die Werke, die sie hie verrichtt,
Sind wie ein schönes helles Licht;
Sie dringen bis zu Himmelspfort
Und werden leuchten hier und dort.

Before Gerhardt, Mathesius65 had sung the praises of domestic happiness in "Wem Gott ein ehrlich Weib beschert," but the sincere note of Gerhardt's “Wie schön ist's doch, Herr Jesu Christ" (Goed. 302) placed German home-life in a poetic light it had not known before.

For the dying he allays the fear of death; man is but a stranger on earth66 and has spent many a day in distress and care; his home is yonder where hosts of angels praise the Mighty Ruler. The sympathetic pastor takes his place with the parents beside the bier of their deceased child.87 He speaks as a father who has lost his son, and he imagines the child in heaven joining the chorus of the angels. But Gerhardt has written very few hymns of death or of penitence. When he does speak of sin and its curse of death with its terrors, he still contrives at once to take from them the sting. The poem beginning “O Tod, O Tod, du greulichs Bild,"68 bears the title “Freudige Empfahung des Todes," and concludes with the lines :

Was solls denn nun, O Jesu, sein,
Dasz mich der Tod so schrecket?
Hat doch Elisa Todtenbein,
Was todt war, auferwecket:
Viel mehr wirst du, den Trost hab ich,
Zum Leben kräftig rüsten mich;
Drum schlaf ich ein mit Freuden.

In hymnody both before and since Gerhardt there has often been a vivid portrayal of the tortures of hell to terrify the soul. Gerhardt scrupulously avoids this and is therefore able to reduce everything to the simplicity of beauty. Every pain and every punishment in which his poems abound at once lose their bitterness because on them is reflected the sunlight of God's love. Gerhardt towers above his time in that amid all his despondent fellow-men he is always fearless and shows a cheerful heart reliant on God;


Goed. 242.

Johann M., a Lutheran theologian, 1504-1565. His Leben Luthers (1566) is his most famous work.

68 "Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden” (Goed. 284).
87 "Weint; und weint gleichwol nicht zu sehr" (Goed. 335).

68 Goed. 317.

just because the severe afflictions of his own life cannot break his spirit, he has in his power the cure for others.

The candid reader must admit that there is evident in some passages of Gerhardt's poetry a certain dogmatic constraint, (“Gebundenheit"). The devil6o is to him a terrible reality, the Christchild in the manger is the creator of the world, and the problem of the Trinity is dismissed without consideration. The Atonement, too, of the Savior is easily understood on the theory of punishment, while the resurrection of the flesh is an undeniable truth. But in other respects Gerhardt is far less dogmatic than Luther.

Critics have sought in vain for traces of poetic development in Gerhardt's work. Such findings as have been claimed can be regarded only as more or less probable conjecture, a fact which shows that his personality was immediately poetically endowed, giving itself out whenever it composed poetry. If his individuality shows no development as such, his poetry can bear no marks of development.

It has often been said that “Gerhardt had and sought no laurels”; nor was he ever “hailed as the Homer or Vergil of his time.” As he knew neither himself nor the greatness of his gift, so his contemporaries failed to appreciate him. He never regarded himself as a poet by calling as did Opitz, Johann Franck and Rist, but only a poet by avocation. To quote Goethe, he sang “as the bird sings that lives in the branches.” In the same proportion that Gerhardt's poetry brought strength and comfort in the grievous period of the Thirty Years' War and later eras of confusion, it is destined through the present world disaster to bring its message of hope.

Cf. “Will Satan mich verschlingen" (Goed. 60, 46); “Dazu kommt des Teufels Lügen" (Goed. 108, 17); also 62, 55; 122, 31; 135, 41; 171, 40; 173, 40; 185, 33 ; 232, 18; 256, 34; 312, 6; 328, 14. Cf. "Es wird im Fleisch hier fürgestellt,

Der alles schuf und noch erhält;" (Goed. 310, 37-38). 71 Cf. Goed. 51.






NY direct traces of literary intercourse between Germany and England


of printing, the establishment of the universities, the Renaissance and the Reformation the literary relations were increased and became important.

In the wide region of satire which was at that time serious and often steeped in theological ideas Germany's works left enduring traces. Brant's “Narrenschiff” translated in the first years of the century helped essentially in accelerating the development of this type of literature in England: reprinted there after an interval of sixty years it was still an inexhaustible model of satire. Another source of dramatic effect destined to have great success on the English stage was found in some hero endowed with supernatural powers, such as Faustus. Thus by introducing a new class of situations into English drama the unusually gifted Germany of the sixteenth century was of great moment for its neighbor, England. Not a little of the quality of the Minnelied, too, reappears in much of the verse of the English lyric writers of this century, when the rose, the nightingale and daisy serve as interpretations of the play of love. In the Mystery Plays there existed doubtless germs of the Meistersänger school: the occasional strophic passages in the Towneley plays resembled to a great extent the normal Meistergesang. This germ, however, did not develop markedly because in England the cultivation of poetry never became a serious occupation. These literary influences from Germany in satire, in Minnelied and in Meistergesang had direct effect upon English intellectual life, and continued uninterrupted through the centuries. The record, on the other hand, of German influence in History, Lyrics and Hymns was more broken and disconnected.

* Inasmuch as Gerhardt's influence was not fully felt in England till the middle of the XIXth century, this chapter deals with the development of the English hymn up to that period.

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