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Wimmer, C.: Gerhardts Leben. Altenburg, 1723.
: Chorale Book for England, 1863.
: Christian Singers of Germany. Macmillan, 1869. Zschnarack: Paul Gerhardt, in Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 2, pp. 1314-1317.
For a complete list of the biographical sketches, monographs, etc., which appeared in 1907 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Gerhardt's birth, cf. Jahresberichte für neuere deutsche Literaturgeschichte, Vols. XVI-XVII, 1906-1907.
Paul Gerhardts Geistliche Lieder in neuen Weisen von Fr. Mergner Lieder von Karl Schmidt. Leipzig, C. Deichert, 1907.
1 Cf. also p. 21.
1607 (Mar. 12) Paul Gerhardt born at Gräfenhainichen near Wittenberg. 1622–1627 At school at Grimma. 1628–1642(?) Student at Wittenberg. Teachers: Röber, Martini. 1637 Gräfenhainichen set on fire by Swedish soldiers. 1642–1651(?) At Berlin; where he wrote Gelegenheitsgedichte, 18 of which
Crüger published in his "Praxis pietatis melica.” 1651 Proposed as minister at Mittenwalde. 1651 (Nov.) Ordained as Probst at Mittenwalde. 1655 (Feb. II) Marriage with Anna Maria Barthold. 1656 (Oct.) Called to Berlin to the Nicolaikirche. 1657 (Summer) Entered upon work in Berlin. 1662 Elector issues edict. 1666 (Feb. 6th or 16th) Summoned to Consistory and threatened with
deposition. 1668 (Mar. 5) Death of wife. 1668 (Autumn) Called to Lübben. 1676 (May 27?) Death at Lübben.
GERHARDT'S LIFE AND TIMES.
LTHOUGH Paul Gerhardt's poems have been so great a power in the
world, nevertheless facts concerning his own life are few. A fire set by the Swedish soldiers in 16371 destroyed all records which might enlighten us, yet from indirect sources and from his poems, we are certain of some facts of his biography.
He was born in Gräfenhainichen a few miles southwest of Wittenberg in the direction of Halle on March 12th in the year 1607 probably. In this small town, of the electorate of Saxony, which was surrounded by a high mediaeval wall, Paul Gerhardt spent the first fifteen years of his life. His father, Christian Gerhardt, was burgomaster of Gräfenhainichen where the citizens earned their living by cattle-raising, agriculture and hopgrowing. His mother was Dorothea Starke, granddaughter of Gallas Döbler, a Lutheran pastor. Both of his parents died probably when he was very young; and of his many brothers and sisters little is known.
At the age of fifteen having passed the examinations and being especially well prepared in Latin Gerhardt entered the Fürstenschule at Grimma. The school was noted for its pious atmosphere and stern discipline: its chief aim was to inculcate in the pupils "Gottesfurcht und gute Sitte.”
It is natural that Gerhardt on completing his course at Grimma in 1627 should choose Wittenberg as his university, for it was situated almost at the gates of his native town. Furthermore since this was the place where Luther and Melanchthon had worked, the Protestant world looked toward Wittenberg with great hopes. He entered the university in 1628. Two of the teachers in particular had great influence on him, Paul Röber and Jacob Martini. These men were guardians of Lutheranism, and Röber besides composing hymns wrote many Latin disputations and polemics against Rome and Calvinism; in his sermons he often took his text, not from the Bible but from some religious poem, preaching for example on "Was mein Gott will, das gescheh allzeit.” In this way Gerhardt was taught the
* Cf. pp. 2 and 3.
full use and purpose of hymn writing. Beside Röber and Martini another Wittenberg professor was of influence on Gerhardt, the philologist August Buchner, one of the most esteemed members of the faculty. He had intimate friendship with Opitz and had warmly advocated the latter's Von der Deutschen Poeterei and had himself written Anleitung zur deutschen Poeterey. As this book was easily copied” by many of the students, it is reasonable to assume that this effort toward spreading Opitz' rules for rhythmic measure had its due influence on Gerhardt.
More is not known concerning his university career. A Latin epigram of the year 1642 points to the probability of his being still at Wittenberg, while the certainty of his being in Berlin the next year 1643 is proved by a Hochzeitsode.3 Gerhardt was undoubtedly tutor in the house of Andreas Barthold then "Kammergerichtsadvokat,” whose daughter wedded Joachim Fromme, the archdeacon of the Nicolaikirche in Berlin; this wedding was the occasion of the congratulatory Hochzeitsode. During this period in Berlin from his thirty-seventh to his forty-sixth year he wrote a number of “Gelegenheitsgedichte” which show us Gerhardt as quite at home moving in a circle of educators and clergymen. Among his friends was the well known choirmaster of the Nicolaikirche, Johann Crüger, who first introduced Gerhardt's hymns into common worship by publishing eighteen of them with other poems in his Praxis pietatis melica. In these early poems Gerhardt's depth of feeling and natural warmth of character are present. Since his twelfth year the Thirty Years' War, a period of destruction unparalleled in Germany history, had been going on. The horrors of the epoch made deep impression upon his imaginative mind, and the strife, the struggle for freedom of the conscience enlisted his sympathy and strengthened his determined resistance to all religious compulsion. The hope and joy in this life were taken away and confidence in another world was needed. Gerhardt even in these early hymns gave fully that deep assurance in the guidance of God.
He himself had suffered individual loss. The Swedes in 1637 determined to punish Johann Georg, the Elector of Saxony, because he, in spite of a signed contract with them, had deserted the Protestant cause, and in their ravages they appeared before Gräfenhainichen and demanded a war tax of 3000 Gulden. It was paid, but notwithstanding the payment the Swedish
* In 1665 there was published an authentic edition.
“Ein Lämmlein geht und trägt die Schuld" Goed. 68.