Paul Gerhardt was born in 1607 in Germany. He enrolled in the University of Wittenberg in 1628 and graduated in 1642. Though his schooling was to make him a pastor he was not immediately placed into a pastorate. The Thirty Years War caused a great amount of tumult and difficulty during this time. Finally in 1651 he was appointed as the new Probst at Mittenwalde. (Ask me where Mittenwalde is, and I’ll point you to Wikipedia). Here he was married and had children. He also began writing hymns.
In 1657 he and his family moved to Berlin. Here in Berlin there was a heated debate between the Reformed church and the Lutheran church. Gerhardt himself was Lutheran and a model voice in the debates of his time. Though during his life he was probably most remembered as a pastor and for his work in these counsels to try to bring unity, it is his hymn writing that has struck a chord with me.
Why You Should Know Him:
Very little is left of Gerhardt’s sermons and we know next to nothing of his posterity. Yet, the Lord has seen fit to preserve many hymns of Gerhardt. I am sure that if given the time and the research there would be a few things that I would disagree with Gerhardt on. (His somewhat sissy looking mustache is one of them). But these hymns are rich. They bear the mark of “A theologian experienced in the sieve of Satan”.
Gerhardt’s hymns show a man that is well acquainted with sorrow and yet a man that has drawn from the deep well of Jesus. He is at times broken and confused but ever trusting in the redemption to be brought to him. His trust in Christ makes Gerhardt somebody worthy of reading.
A couple of days ago I posted Give to the Winds Thy Fears. (That song has been remade by Jars of Clay and is available for your viewing at the end of this post.
Here are a few stanzas from various poems that I found refreshing:
From Say With What Salutations?
From Why Without, Then, Art Thou Staying?
From Christian Devotion to God’s Will:
There is a compilation of many of his hymns available for free at Google.
Also available is a lengthy biography on Gerhardt and his influential hymn writing.
There have been a few more biographies written on Gerhardt, but the two free links above will suffice for a helpful introduction to Gerhardt.
This is from Jars of Clay: