Above: The Castle of Dessau, Anhalt, Germany, Between 1890 and 1900
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-00029
KATHARINA AMALIA DOROTHEA VON SCHLEGAL (OCTOBER 22, 1697-CIRCA 1768)
German Lutheran Hymn Writer
We know little about the life of Katharina von Schlegal; we are not even certain of some reported details or the year of her death. Some sources indicate that she was the head of a stilt, a Lutheran nunnery, at Kothen (Anhalt), but the records of that stilt do not list her as having been such. She does seem to have been part of the ducal court of the Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode in the early 1750s, during the reign (1710-1771) of Count Christian Ernst (1691-1771). Some correspondence with the next Count, Heinrich Ernst (1716-1778), author of more than four hundred published hymns, has survived.
Our saint wrote twenty-nine published hymns. Of these only one exists in English. Jane Laurie Borthwick rendered five of the six stanzas of that text in English in 1855. A modernized version of four stanzas from that translation, as found in the Lutheran Worship Hymnal Companion (1992), pages 515-516, follows:
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and wind shall know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul; though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then you will better know his love, his heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay
From his own fullness all he takes away.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow, forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
For the sake of completeness in the English language one might add the following stanza at the end:
Be still, my soul; begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, in your Lord on high;
Acknowledge him in all your words and ways,
So shall he view you with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul; the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
We know enough about Katharina von Schlegal, I think.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 24, 2014 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF THOMAS A KEMPIS, SPIRITUAL WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN BOSTE, GEORGE SWALLOWELL, AND JOHN INGRAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS
THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER
Dear God of beauty,
you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to
Katharina von Schlegal and others, who have composed hymn texts.
May we, as you guide us,
find worthy hymn texts to be icons,
through which we see you.
In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK
THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH