Above: Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, Between 1890 and 1900
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-00085
SIGISMUND VON BIRKEN (MAY 5, 1626-JUNE 12, 1681)
German Lutheran Hymn Writer
Sigismund von Birken was a prominent poet. He entered the world at Wildstein, Bohemia, where his father, Daniel (Betulius) Birken, was the Lutheran pastor. Our saint and his family had to leave Wildstein in 1629, when Protestant pastors had to flee Bohemia. The family settled at Nuremberg, Bavaria. There Sigismund attended the Egiden Gymnasium before studying theology and law at the University of Jena from 1643 to 1645. He had to drop out of school for financial reasons, so he returned to Nuremberg, having already become a recognized poet. That year he joined the Pegnitz Order (in full the Order of the Society of Pegnitz Shepherds), devoted to purifying and improving the German language, especially in poetry.
The poet worked on-and-off as a private tutor. From 1645 to 1646 he tutored the princes of Brunswick-Luneburg at the Wolfenbutte court. Then our saint traveled for two years, during which he joined the German Rose Society, a prestigious group of poets. In 1648, at the end of the year, Birken returned to Nuremberg and became a tutor again.
Our saint received honors later in his life. In 1654 Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III (reigned 1637-1657) made him a nobleman in recognition of his literary ability. Birken joined the Fruitbearing Society (founded in 1617, with the goal of standardizing vernacular German and promoting it as a literary and scholarly language) in 1658. Four years later he became the Chief Shepherd of the Pegnitz Order, to which he gave a religious sensibility.
Birken also wrote hymns. Among those was “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” (1653), which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.
Birken, devoted to Jesus and quality in language (two excellent causes), died at Nuremberg on June 12, 1681.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 13, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME
THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF HUBERT HUMPHREY, UNITED STATES SENATOR AND VICE PRESIDENT
THE FEAST OF KENTIGERN (MUNGO), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW
Dear God of beauty,
you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to
Sigismund von Birken 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