Above: Johann Heermann
Image in the Public Domain
JOHANN HEERMANN (OCTOBER 11, 1585-FEBRUARY 17, 1647)
German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
Johann Heermann was arguably the second greatest Lutheran hymn writer, ranking behind only Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).
Heermann’s life was one of difficulties and afflictions, both natural and man-made. He, the only one of five children to survive, seemed on the verge of death when he was a child. Our saint promised his mother that he would study theology if he survived. The native of Raudten, Silesia (now Rudna, Poland), survived and kept his word. Poor eyesight frustrated Heermann’s education. He was, however, a skilled poet, beginning his composition of Latin verse in 1605 and becoming the Holy Roman imperial poet laureate three years later. Finally, in 1611, our saint became the minister at Koeben, on the Oder River. That year he also married Dorothea Feige, his first wife, who died in 1617. The couple had no children.
Fire, pestilence, and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) created much suffering for Heermann, his family, and his flock. He married Anna Teichmann in 1618. The couple had four children. More than once the Heermann’s had to flee Koeben and lost all their possessions. Our saint also nearly died more than once during these flights.
If that were no enough, health problems afflicted Heermann. Throat problems began in 1623. Eleven years later our saint had to stop preaching. For about four years he was able to perform other pastoral duties, but had to retire in 1638. Heermann retired to Lissa, Posen (now Leszno, Poland), where he died on February 17, 1647.
Heermann was an influential hymn writer. He composed about 400 hymns, most of which nobody has translated into English. In contrast with the older, objective style of hymn texts, our saint pioneered subjective hymns. Themes in Heermann’s hymns included affliction, suffering, and faith and confidence during times of trial. His legacy of hymnody has survived, fortunately.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
DECEMBER 6, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK
THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT
THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
Dear God of beauty,
you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to
Johann Heermann 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