Feast of Joachim Neander (May 29)   1 comment

Above:  Joachim Neander

Image in the Public Domain

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JOACHIM NEANDER (1650-MAY 31, 1680)

German Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

“First Poet of the Reformed Church in Germany”

A hymnal can be a wonderful source of names for a calendar of saints.  Thus Joachim Neander finds a place on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

The Ecumenical Calendar has a few rules, including the following one:  With few exceptions, whenever a Bible-related feast falls on a day, I reserve that day for that feast, instead of following my usual custom of stacking commemorations on top of each other.  (As of the writing of this post, the maximum number of feasts per day is four.)  Thus December 25 is just the First Day (of twelve) of Christmas, January 6 is only the Feast of the Epiphany, and May 31 (on which Neander died) is exclusively the Feast of the Visitation.  However, January 1 is both the Feast of the Holy Name and the World Day of Peace and March 25 is both the Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of St. Dismas, a Biblical figure.  Since May 31 is the Feast of the Visitation, the commemoration of Neander moves to an adjacent day.

Joachim Neander began his life in Bremen, where his father, Johann Joachim Neander, served on the faculty of the Gymnasium Illustre.  Our saint, born in 1650, converted in 1670.  He had once been a rowdy student who attended church to make fun of it.  Pastor Theodore Under-Eyck of St. Martin’s Church, Bremen, presided over Neander’s conversion, however.

Neander spent part of his life as an educator.  For several years (1671-1674) he was a tutor, first in Heidelberg then in Frankfurt.  During this stage of life our saint plunged into his newfound Pietism.  In 1674 he became the Rector of the Reformed grammar school at Duesselforf.  Our saint’s responsibilities included teaching and serving as assistant minister.  Three years later local politics led to his suspension from all those duties.  Neander had offended too many people for his own good by (1) altering the academic schedule unilaterally, (2) making other education-related decisions the same way, and (3) persistently refusing to take the Eucharist with allegedly unconverted people.  After a two weeks’ suspension he promised to change his ways and found himself restored as Rector of the school yet not as assistant minister.  The experience of suspension, followed by demotion, humiliated him.

Neander returned to Bremen in 1679.  There he became an assistant to Pastor Under-Eyck at St. Martin’s Church.  Again our saint proved controversial.  Under-Eyck had plans, however; he intended to arrange a pastorate for Neander.  That never came to pass because our saint died of tuberculosis at the age of 29 or 30 on May 31, 1680.

Regardless of any errors (such as Donatism) Neander manifested, he left a fine legacy in the realm of hymnody.  He composed many hymn tunes and 60 hymn texts, some of which exist in English-language translations.  I have added some of them to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Other texts included those translated as “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and “All My Hope on God is Founded.”  Neander, whose love of nature was evident in many of his hymns, earned his reputation as the greatest Reformed hymn writer in Germany.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Joachim Neander 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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

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

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One response to “Feast of Joachim Neander (May 29)

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  1. Pingback: Joachim Neander | GATHERED PRAYERS

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