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Work at Mittenwalde

Whether Gerhardt felt the pinch of distress of the war, or hesitated to enter a field already crowded with a superabundance of young clergymen, or for what reason he stayed so long in Berlin as tutor is not known, but he was already forty-five years old when he began his first church work. In a letter of the clerical cabinet ("Geistliches Ministerium") of Berlin to the magistrate of Mittenwalde (Sept. 1651) Gerhardt was proposed as minister and he is characterized as being of "well known diligence and scholarship, of peace loving disposition and blameless life, besides being loved and esteemed by both high and low in Berlin." Upon the successful outcome of this recommendation Gerhardt was ordained "Propst"88In Mittenwalde, 9 English miles south of Berlin, there were in the church two clerical positions, the first of which was known as the "Propstei," since its occupant was entrusted with the supervision of the clergy of the vicinity. Propst (or Probst) is from the Latin propositus. of Mittenwalde on the 18th of November, 1651, entering his new office in December of that year. At his ordination he pledged his support especially of the Lutheran Book of Concord (Concordienformel).

The community of Mittenwalde had suffered severely in 1637 as had Gräfenhainichen from the Swedish marauders and attacks of pestilence, and Paul Gerhardt undertook his duties here with full understanding of this universal suffering, and fulfilled them with all his strength. The poems which he wrote at this time give evidence of a tender, yet strong pastoral care. He was a spiritual guide and comforter, yet in spite of his ardent work in Mittenwalde he apparently yearned for Berlin, and often returned thither to visit. On February 11th, 1655, at the age of forty-eight he married Anna Maria Barthold, daughter of Andreas Barthold and sister of Frau Fromme.99Cf. p. 2. Their first child, born to them in 1656, died in infancy and a memorial tablet in the church in Mittenwalde shows their grief.

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