Feast of Philipp Nicolai (October 26)   1 comment

Above:  Philipp Nicolai

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIPP NICOLAI (AUGUST 10, 1556-OCTOBER 26, 1608)

German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

Born Philipp Rafflenboel

Philipp Nicolai was one of the greatest German Lutheran hymn writers.  One hymn, translated as “How Bright Appears the Morning Star,” has become known as “the Queen of Chorales.”  Another, “Wake, O Wake!  With Tidings Thrilling,” has become known as “the King of Chorales.”

Philipp Rafflenboel, who changed his surname to “Nicolai,” or “son of Nicoalus,” was a son of Lutheran minister Nicolaus Dietrich Rafflenboel.  Our saint seemed destined for a devout life.  As a child, he presided at funerals for pets and preached at funerals for pets and preached to children in the neighborhood.  He studied at the Universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg before, at the age of 20 years, became a Lutheran minister.  Our saint’s first parish was in his hometown, Mengeringhausen, Waldeck, Hesse.

Nicolai was a man of strong opinions.  He, pastor at Herbecke (in the Ruhr area) from 1583 to 1586, had to leave.  During the age of the Religious Wars in Europe, when the separation of church and state was not the rule, (Roman Catholic) Spanish and Bavarian forces neared Herdecke.  In that context Lutheran pastor Johann Tacke, a former priest, dressed in priestly vestments and presided over a mass.  Nicolai criticized Tacke in strong terms.  This led to a politically difficult situation for our saint.

Political difficulties continued for Nicolai.  In 1586-1587 he was a pastor in Cologne, a stronghold of Roman Catholicism.  At Niederwildungen, Waldeck, as pastor (1587-1596), our saint also tutored the young Count Wilhelm Ernst, son of the dowager Countess Margarethe.  There were, however, prominent Calvinists in the court; Nicolai clashed with them.

From 1596 to 1601 Nicolai was pastor in Unna, Westphalia.  A plague struck the town in 1597-1598; more than 1,300 people died in less than a year.  Our saint ministered faithfully to his flock during that difficult time.  On a happier note, he published Mirror of Joy of Eternal Life, including his hymns and hymn tunes, in 1599.  Nicolai also married Catherine von der Recke, a widow with two children, in 1600.

Nicolai was pastor of St. Catherine’s Church, Hamburg, in 1601-1608.  He, renowned for his eloquent preaching, wrote and published his systematic theology, On God’s Mystical Temple.  Our saint died in Hamburg on October 26, 1608.  He was 56 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C:  THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS WINDOW MAKER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Philipp Nicolai 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 Philipp Nicolai (October 26)

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  1. Pingback: Philipp Nicolai | GATHERED PRAYERS

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