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Personal Loss

In these early poems Gerhardt's depth of feeling and natural warmth of character are present. Since his twelfth year the Thirty Years' War, a period of destruction unparalleled in Germany history, had been going on. The horrors of the epoch made deep impression upon his imaginative mind, and the strife, the struggle for freedom of the conscience enlisted his sympathy and strengthened his determined resistance to all religious compulsion. The hope and joy in this life were taken away and confidence in another world was needed. Gerhardt even in these early hymns gave fully that deep assurance in the guidance of God.

He himself had suffered individual loss. The Swedes in 1637 determined to punish Johann Georg, the Elector of Saxony, because he, in spite of a signed contract with them, had deserted the Protestant cause, and in their ravages they appeared before Gräfenhainichen and demanded a war tax of 3000 Gulden. It was paid, but notwithstanding the payment the Swedish 3 soldiers set fire to the town. The Gerhardt house and the church with its many records were among the four hundred buildings destroyed.

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