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Early Lutheran and Moravian Hymnists

Of the many hymnists inspired by Luther's example the more eminent were Justus Jonas, Luther's friend and colleague in the preparation of metrical German versions of the Psalms, Paul Eber, the faithful assistant of Melanchthon, Markgraf Albrecht of Brandenburg, Hans Sachs, the shoemaker, and later Gerhardt.

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The German hymnody of the Reformation period was enriched by the hymns of the Bohemian and Moravian Brethren, who as followers of John Huss, had in 1467 formed themselves into a separate and organized church; their archbishop Lucas in 1501 collected hymns and published the first hymn book in the vernacular to be found in Bohemia or Germany. The adherents of this cult are commonly called Moravians, because the first founders of the settlement in Saxony immigrated from Moravia. They assumed this name in England and America and it is very largely through their hymn book2626Cf. the frequent references to the Moravian Hymn Book, p. 38 ff. that German hymns have found their way into English hymnody.

The Lutheran hymnody which followed closely upon the Moravian contributions concluded its productive period with the Formula of Concord2727Cf. p. 4. in 1577 which gave final shape to the Lutheran creed. In this period there were over a hundred poets whose verses have expressed the highest Christian praises. It is an era which, for its productiveness, may be compared with the time of Watts and Doddridge and their immediate successors in England.


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