Feast of Martin Behm (September 16)   1 comment

Holy Roman Empire 1559

Above:  Bohemia, Silesia, and Vienna, 1559

Image Source = Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1967)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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MARTIN BEHM (SEPTEMBER 16, 1557-FEBRUARY 5, 1622)

German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

My occasional tour of German Lutheran ministers who wrote hymns continues with an account of the life of Martin Behm, a native of Lauban, Silesia (now Luban, Poland).  His father, Hans, was a town overseer at Lauban.  In 1574, during a longterm famine, Dr. Paul Fabricus, a relative and a royal physician, took our saint to Vienna.  Behm lived in Vienna from 1574 to 1576, working as a private tutor.  Studies at Strassburg, Austria, followed.  Then, in May 1580, after his father died, our saint went home, as his mother had requested.

Behm’s adult life in Lauban was eventual.  At first he worked as an assistant in the town school.  Then, on September 20, 1581, he received ordination as the deacon of Holy Trinity Church.  Three years later, the senior pastor, Sigismund Schwabe, accepted a position in Breslau.  The town council kept the senior pastor position vacant until 1586, when it offered the job to Behm.  He served with distinction for 36 years, shepherding his flock through an earthquake (1590), pestilence (1613), and war (1619).  He was also a renowned preacher.  Behm delivered 150 sermons on the Passion of Jesus and 463 on the Psalter alone.  His emphasis on the Passion was also evident in many of his nearly 500 hymns, only four of which exist in English transactions and three of which are in common use in the English-speaking world.

On the personal front, Behm married Ursula Romer, daughter of Casper Romer, the church administrator, in November 1582.  The couple had eleven children.  One son became a deacon and worked with Behm in the church.

Our saint preached his last sermon on the Tenth Sunday After Trinity, 1621.  Shortly thereafter he became severely ill.  Behm died after spending 24 weeks in his sick-bed.  His legacy has survived, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PENNEFATHER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS WIFE, CATHERINE KING PENNEFATHER, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant Martin Behm,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

now and forever.  Amen.

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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One response to “Feast of Martin Behm (September 16)

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  1. Pingback: Martin Behm | GATHERED PRAYERS

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