1500 - 1561 Person Name: Nicolaus Hermann Hymnal Number: 493 Author of "O Herre Gud! din Sol saa skjøn" in Kirkesalmebog Herman, Nicolaus, is always associated with Joachimsthal in Bohemia, just over the mountains from Saxony. The town was not of importance till the mines began to be extensively worked about 1516. Whether Herman was a native of this place is not known, but he was apparently there in 1518, and was certainly in office there in 1524. For many years he held the post of Master in the Latin School, and Cantor or Organist and Choirmaster in the church. Towards the end of his life he suffered greatly from gout, and had to resign even his post as Cantor a number of years before his death. He died at Joachimsthal, May 3, 1561. (Koch, i. 390-398; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, xii. 186-188, &c.)
He was a great friend and helper of J. Mathesius (q.v.) (who in 1532 became rector of the school, but in 1541 diaconus and in 1545 pastor of the church), and it was said that whenever Mathesius preached a specially good sermon Herman straightway embodied its leading ideas in a hymn. His hymns, however, were not primarily written for use in church, but were intended for the boys and girls in the schools, to supplant profane songs in the mouths of the young men and women, or for the daily life of the “housefathers and housemothers" in Joachimsthal, at home, and in their work in the mines. He is a poet of the people, homely, earnest, and picturesque in style; by his naiveté reminding us of Hans Sachs. He was an ardent lover of music and a very good organist. The chorales which he published with his hymns are apparently all of his own composition, and are among the best of the Reformation period.
Many of Herman's hymns soon passed into Church use in Germany, and a number are found in almost all books in present use. About 190 in all, they appeared principally in:—
(1) Die Sontags Evangelia uber des gantze Jar, in Gesenge verfasset, für die Kinder und christlichen Haussvetter, &c, Wittenberg, 1560 (dedication by Herman dated Trinity Sunday, 1559), with 101 hymns and 17 melodies. The best are those interspersed specially meant for children and not directly founded on the Gospel for the day. (2) Die Historien von der Sindfludt, Joseph, Mose, Helia, Elisa und der Susanna, sampt etlichen Historien aus den Evangelisten, &c., Wittenberg, 1562 (preface by Herman dated St. Bartholomew's Day, 1560), with 73 hymns and 20 melodies. In this case also the general hymns are the best. A selection of 60 (really 61) of his hymns, with a memoir by K. F. Ledderhose, was published at Halle, 1855.
One of Herman's hymns is noted under “Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist." The others which have passed into English are:—
i. Bescher uns, Herr, das täglioh Brod. Grace before Meat. 1562, as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 1228, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines; in Ledderhose, p. 70; and in the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 1133. Translated as:—
1. Thou art our Father and our God. This, by P. H. Molther, a translation of stanza vi., as No. 180 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789 (1849, No. 220, st. v.).
2. As children we are owned by Thee, a translation of stanza vi., as st. iii. of No. 191 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1801 (1849, No. 220, stanza iii.).
ii. Die helle Sonn leucht jetzt herfür. Morning. 1560, as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 1184, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, in Ledderhose, p. 87; and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 450. Translated as:—
The morning beam revives our eyes, a good and full translation by. A. T. Russell, as No. 71 in the Dalston Hospital Hymn Book 1848.
iii. Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag. Easter. 1560, as above, in 14 stanzas of 4 lines, entitled, "A new Spiritual Song of the Joyful Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ; for the maidens of the girls' school in Joachimsthal”; and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 1175; in Ledderhose p. 23, and Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 134. It has reminiscences of the "Erstanden ist der heil'ge Christ". Translated as:—
The day hath dawn'd—-the day of days, a good translation by A. T. Russell of stanzas i., ii., xiii., xiv., as No. 113 in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851.
Another tr. is, "At length appears the glorious day," by Dr. G. Walker, 1860, p. 28.
iv. Hinunter ist der Sonnen Schein. Evening. 1560, as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 1184, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines; in Ledderhose, p. 88; and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen1851, No. 523. Some of the phrases may have been suggested by the "Christe qui lux es et dies" (q. v.). Translated as:—
1. Sunk is the sun's last beam of light, a full and good translation by Miss Cox in her Sacred Hymns from the German, 1841, p. 57. Included in Alford's Psalms & Hymns, 1844, and Tear of Praise, 1867; in Dale's English Hymn Book, 1875; in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868, and others. It is also given considerably altered and beginning, "Sunk is the Sun! the daylight gone," in W. J. Blew's Church Hymn and Tune Book, 1851-55.
2. The happy sunshine all is gone, in full, by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 1st Ser., 1855, p. 225; repeated in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, and the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
Other translations are: (1) "Did I perhaps Thee somewhat grieve," a translation of stanza iii. in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789, No. 756. In the 1801 and later eds. (1886, No. 1181, st. iii.), it begins, "Where'er I Thee this day did grieve." (2) "The sun’s fair sheen is past and gone," by H. J. Buckoll, 1842, p. 68. (3) "The sun hath run his daily race," by Lady E. Fortescue, 1843, p. 14.
v. Lobt Gott, ihr Christen alle gleich. Christmas. Written c. 1554, but first published 1560 as above, as the first of "Three Spiritual Christmas Songs of the new-born child Jesus, for the children in Joachimsthal." Thence in Wackernagel iii. p. 1169, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines; in Ledderhose, p. 1; and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 47. It is one of the most popular German Christmas hymns. The melody set to it in 1560 is also by Herman; in 1554 to his "Kommt her ihr liebsten Schwesterlein" [in the Hymnal Companioncalled "St. George's (old)"]. Translated as :—
1. Let all together praise our God, a good translation of stanzas i., iii., vi., viii., by A. T. Russell, as No. 52 in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851. Repeated in Kennedy, 1863, adding a translation of st. ii., and beginning, "Let all creation praise our God."
2. Praise ye the Lord, ye Christians I yea, in full, by E. Cronenwett, as No. 31 in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal 1880.
Other translations are: (1) "A wondrous change He with us makes," a tr. of stanza viii., ix. as No. 438 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, repeated 1789-1826. (2) "Come, brethren, lets the song arise," by Dr. G. Walker, 1860, p. 26. (3) "Praise God, now Christians, all alike," by Miss Manington, 1864, p. 9. (4) "Praise God, upon His throne on high," in the Sunday Magazine, 1874, p. 384, signed "P. J." The hymn “Shepherds rejoice, lift up your eyes," given by J. C. Jacobi in his Psalmodia Germanica, 1722, p. 8, to Herman's melody (which was first published 1554) is, as stated in his Preface, taken from Bk. i. of Isaac Watts's Horse Lyricae
vi. So wahr ich leb, spricht Gott der Herr. Absolution. 1560, as above, in 11 stanzas of 4 lines, entitled "A hymn on the power of the keys and the virtue of holy absolution; for the children in Joachimsthal." Thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 1183; in Ledderhose, p. 47; and the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 429. It probably suggested the better known hymn, "So wahr ich lebe," q. v., by Johann Heermann. Translated as:—
Yea, as I live, Jehovah saith, I do not wish the sinner's death, in full, by Dr. M. Loy, as No. 245, in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)