Above: Allendorf in 1655, by Matthaus Merian
Image in the Public Domain
PETRUS NIGIDIUS (1501-1583)
German Lutheran Educator and Composer
perhaps the father of
GEORG NIGIDIUS, A.K.A. GEORG NIEGE (NOVEMBER 25, 1525-JULY 4, 1588)
German Lutheran Composer and Hymn Writer
The relationship (if any) between Petrus and George Nigidius is uncertain, but both men were from Allendorf, Hesse, and had connections to nearby Marburg.
Petrus Nigidius (1501-1583) was a professional educator. He studied at the University of Erfurt and served as rector at Eschwege, Allendorf, and Gottingen. Once he visited Wittenberg, where he heard Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) speak. Our saint served briefly as rector in Darmstadt and Luneburg before returning to Allendorf to teach. Then he taught at Cassel from 1539 to 1549. From 1549 to 1561 our saint worked as the superintendent at Marburg. There he remained, teaching history then physics starting in 1561. Nigidius retired in 1575.
Among his non-academic contributions were at least one melody and a German-Latin catechism. The catechism dated to 1554. The melody became the basis for a hymn tune, DIE NACHT IST KOMMEN.
Georg Nigidius, born on November 25, 1525, spent most of his life as a soldier and filling civil offices. At the age of nine years he became a pupil of cantor Georg Kern at Cassel. Thus his musical education began. Our saint graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Marburg in 1546. Then he entered the military. Nigidius spent the rest of his life alternating between military and civil positions, settling down at Rintelin in 1587. There he died of a stroke on July 4, 1588.
His hobbies included composing poems and music. Nigidius had sent The Seven Penitential Psalms Together with All Manner of Christian Hymns of Praise and Thanksgiving, and Also Prayers and Passages of Scripture Composed and Compiled by Georg Niege of Allendorf, a Captain to Nicolaus Selnecker (1532-1592), theologian and hymn writer. Selnecker attempted unsuccessfully to find a publisher for it. Nevertheless, some of the texts in that volume appeared in hymnals during the 1500s. The great bulk of our saint’s compositions remained forgotten in the royal library in Berlin until Dr. P. Althaus rediscovered them.
Among the texts by Georg Nigidius in circulation since the 1500s was Aus meines Herzens Grunde. Stanzas #1, 2, 5, and 6 of the translation from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) follow:
My inmost heart now raises
In this fair morning hour
A song of thankful praises
To Thine almighty pow’r,
O God, upon Thy throne.
To honor and adore Thee,
I bring my praises before Thee
Thro’ Christ, Thine only Son.
For Thou from me hast warded
All perils of the night;
From ev’ry harm hast guarded
My soul till morning light.
To Thee I humbly cry,
O Savior, have compassion
And pardon my transgression;
Have mercy, Thine only Son.
God shall do my advising,
Whose might with wisdom blends;
May the bless rest and rising,
My efforts, means, and ends!
To God, forever blest,
Will I with mine confide me,
And willing let Him guide me
As seemeth to Him best.
Amen I say, not fearing
That God rejects my prayer;
I doubt not He is hearing
And granting me His care.
Thus I go on my way
And do not look behind me,
But ply the task assigned me;
God’s help shall be my stay.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 23, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT DESIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK
THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST
THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST
Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:
Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of your servants
Petrus Nigidius and Georg Nigidius,
may persevere in running the race that is set before us,
until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724