Above: Southern Germany, from the Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)
Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor
CHRISTOPH CARL LUDWIG VON PFEIL (JANUARY 20, 1712-FEBRUARY 14, 1784)
German Lutheran Hymn Writer
Blessed Jesus, all our hearts incline
Thee to follow, where Thy footsteps shine;
At all times, and everywhere,
May our words and actions bear
A semblance, gracious Lord, to Thee.
–Baron Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil, according to an unknown translator; quoted in The Liturgy and Office of Worship and Hymns of the American Province of the Unitas Fratrum, or the Moravian Church (1908)
Baron Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil (1712-1784) came from non-baronial origins. His father was in the service of the Count of Leinigen. Our saint, born at Grundstadt, near Worms, Germany, studied at the Universities of Halle and Tubingen. In 1732 he became the Wurttemberg secretary of the legation at Regensberg. He held various political offices from 1745 to 1763, but resigned rather than cooperate with the absolutist policies of Count Montmartin, the Prime Minister of Wurttemberg.
Pfeil’s retirement to Deufstetten, his estate near Crailsheim, was brief. King Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia (reigned 1740-1786) appointed him to be the Privy Councillor and Ambassador to the Diets of Swabia and Franconia that year. Then Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (reigned 1765-1790) created our saint a baron. And, in 1765, Frederick the Great awarded Pfeil the cross of the Red Eagle Order, a great honor.
Our saint wrote 950 hymns. He started after the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 1730, the occasion of a religious epiphany for him, and stopped due to his death. Unfortunately, few of these texts exist in English translations and even those which do are mostly absent from the majority of English-language hymnals. Pfeil also published collections of his hymns, including a volume of psalm settings from 1747.
Our saint came down with an intermittent fever, which confined him to bed, in August 1783. There he remained until he died on February 14, 1784.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 22, 2014 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT SYNCLETIA OF ALEXANDRIA, DESERT MOTHER
THE FEAST OF SAINT ABELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK
THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST
THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE PALLOTINES
Dear God of beauty,
you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to
Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil 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