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Paul Speratus

Even those which seem to us least adapted for such a purpose, the doctrinal ones, were more truly popular in those days, when this especial aspect of religion was the thing men were thinking about and fighting for, than we can well understand now. So a hymn by Paul Speratus, the chaplain of the Duke of Prussia, which begins--

Es ist das Heil uns kommen her

"Salvation hath come down to us

Of freest grace and love,

Works cannot stand before God's law,

A broken reed they prove;

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,

He must for all our sins atone,

He is our one Redeemer"--

goes on through several verses with a statement of the doctrine of justification by faith that sounds to us like a bit out of the Augsburg Confession done 124 into rhyme. But in his own day it was as popular as Luther's hymns, and Luther himself is said to have given his last coin to a Prussian beggar from whom he heard it for the first time. Equally characteristic of the other class of hymns is such an one as that long attributed to the Elector John of Saxony, because he frequently used it during his imprisonment, but really written by Ambrosius Blaurer, a monk from the Black Forest who joined the Reformed Church.

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