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The terrible times of the Thirty years' War were rich in sacred poetry. Rist, a clergyman in North Germany, who suffered much in his youth from mental conflicts, and in after years from plunder, pestilence, and all the horrors of war, used to say, "the dear cross hath pressed many songs out of me," and this seems to have been equally true of many of his contemporaries. It certainly was true of Johann Hermann, the author of some of the most touching hymns for Passion Week, who wrote his sweet songs under great physical sufferings from ill health, and amidst the perils of war, during which he more than once esaped murder as by a miracle. So too the hymns of Simon Dach, professor of poetry in the University of Koningsberg, speak of the sufferings of the Christian, and his longing to escape from the strife of earth to the peace of heaven.

But the Christians of those days had often not only to suffer, but to fight for their faith, and in the hymns of xi Altenburg and von Löwenstern we have two that may be called battle songs of the Church. The former published his hymn, "Fear not, O little flock, the foe," in 1631, with this title: "A heart-cheering song of comfort on the watch word of the Evangelical Army in the battle of Leipsic, September 5th, 1631, God with us." It was called Gustavus Adolphus's battle song, because the pious hero often sang it with his army; and he sang it for the last time immediately before the battle of Lützen. The latter, von Löwenstern, was the son of a saddler, but was ennobled by the Emporer, Ferdinand III. for his public services: he was at once a statesman, poet, and musician. His hymn, "Christ, Thou the champion of the band," was a favorite of Niebuhr.

Another favorite hymn of Niebuhr was the hymn to Eternity, the greater part of which is of very ancient but uncertain date. It received its present form about the middle of the 17th century.

Many of the hymns of Paul Gerhardt belong to this period, though he lived until 1676, long after the conclusion of peace. He is without doubt the greatest of the German hymn writers, possessing loftier poetical genius, and a richer variety of thought and feeling than any other. His beautiful hymn, "Commit thou all thy [griefs and] ways," is already well known to us through Wesley's translation, and many others of his are not inferior to it. He was a zealous preacher for several years at the Nicolai-Kirch in Berlin; whence he retired because he had not sufficient freedom xii in preaching the truth, and became Archdeacon of Lübben. With him culminated the elder school of German sacred poetry, a school distinguished by its depth and simplicity. Most of its hymns are either written for the high festivals and services of the Church, or are expressive of a simple Christian faith, ready to dare or suffer all things for God's sake. To this school we must refer, from their spirit, two hymns written a little later; the first is "Jesus my Redeemer Lives," one of the most favorite Easter hymns, written by the pious Electress of Brandenburgh, who founded the Orphan House at Oranienburg. The other, "Leave God to order all thy ways," was written by George Neumarck, Secretary to the Archives at Weimar. It spread rapidly among the common people, at first without the author's name. A baker's boy in New Brandenburgh used to sing it over his work, and soon the whole town and neighbourhood flocked to him to learn this beautiful new song.

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