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O, let us exalt our dear Lord and proclaim,
In songs of true gratitude, praise to His name!
As songs of the angels in sweetest accord,
Our thanks and our praises shall rise to the Lord.
-- Zion's Harp # 165

Composer Bio Information

Nicolai, Philipp's bio information

August 10, 1556 - October 26, 1608

Born: August 10, 1556 - Mengeringhausen (near Arolsen), Hessen, Germany
Died: October 26, 1608 - Hamburg, Germany

Philipp Nicolai was the son of a Lutheran pastor. He studied theology at the universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg, 1575-1579, and became a pastor himself. It was a time of religious wars in Europe, and several times he had to flee or go into hiding and minister to his congregations secretly in house meetings. He was a theological writer, defending Lutheran theology chiefly against Calvinistic opponents. He also preached with great power and effectiveness. In 1588 he became pastor at Altwildungen, in 1596 he became pastor at Unna in Westphalia, and in 1601 pastor in Hamburg. But he is remembered today for writing two hymns.

While he was pastor in Westphalia, the plague took 1300 of his parishioners, mostly in the latter half of 1597, 170 in one week. To comfort his parishioners, he wrote a series of meditations which he called Freudenspiegel (Mirror of Joy), and to this he appended two hymns, both of which have become world-famous.

The first hymn was, "Wake, awake, for night is flying" (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme). It uses the image of the watchman on a city wall (Isaiah 52:8), and of the Parable of the Bridesmaids welcoming the Bridegroom to the Marriage Feast (Matthew 25:1-13), and of the Song of Triumph in Heaven (Revelation 19:6-9). It is a favorite Advent hymn.

The second hymn was, "How bright appears the morning star" (Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern). This also, with a wealth of imagery, hails Christ as our deliverer, and celebrates his triumph. It has become a favorite wedding hymn, but is also sung for Advent, for Christmas, for Epiphany, and and as a general hymn of praise.

Nicolai wrote both the words and the tunes, but the arrangements we know are due to Bach. The earliest English translations are those of Catherine Winkworth, but there have been many translations since, some of them (especially for the second hymn) content to reproduce the general spirit of the original words rather than their specific meaning. In addition, several hymn-writers have set their own words (in various languages) to one of Nicolai's tunes. If pure quality, without respect to quantity, were our criterion, Nicolai would have to be ranked as history's greatest chorale-writer, and one of its greatest hymn-writers.


Links to other Sites:
German Hymn-writers of the 1600’s (James Kiefer's Christian Biographies) - http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/JEK/10/24.html

Philipp Nicolai (Cyber Hymnal) - http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/n/i/nicolai_p.htm

Philip Nicolai (CCEL) - http://www.ccel.org/w/winkworth/singers/htm/nicolai.htm

Source: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Nicolai.html


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Born: August 10, 1556, Mengeringhausen (near Arolsen), Hessen, Germany.

Died: October 26, 1608, Hamburg, Germany.

Buried: Katharinenkirche, Hamburg, Germany. Sadly, the church was almost destroyed in World War II, though it was restored in the 1950’s.

Son of a Lutheran clergyman, Nicolai studied theology at the Universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg from about 1575 to 1579. He then became pastor in Herdecke an der Ruhr, but was driven out by Spanish Counter-Reformation mercenary troops during the religious war. He moved to Köln (Cologne), a thoroughly Catholic city, and was a preacher of the Lutheran congregations, who at that time met secretly in houses.

In 1588, Nicolai became Hofprediger (Court Preacher) and teacher of the Count of Waldeck in Wildungen, Hessen. In 1596, he became a pastor in Unna, Westphalia. During his Unna years, plague killed hundreds of his parishioners. For consolation, Nicolai wrote his book Freudenspiegel des ewigen Lebens (Joyous Mirror of Eternal Life), edited in 1599. His two most famous hymns were published in that work.

In 1601, Nicolai became pastor at Katharinenkirche (St. Katherine’s Church) in Hamburg, where he served the rest of his life.

Sources

* Frost, p. 684
* Julian, pp. 415, 805, 1010
* Stulken, p. 131

Hymns

1. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
* Sleepers, Wake! The Watch Cry Pealeth
* Wake, Awake, the Night Is Flying
* Wake, O Wake! with Tidings Thrilling
2. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
* How Bright Appears the Morning Star
* How Lovely Shines the Morning Star
* O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

Music

1. Wachet Auf
* Sleepers, Wake
2. Wie Schön Leuchtet

Source: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/n/i/nicolai_p.htm

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Philipp Nicolai was born in 1556 in Germany, son of a Lutheran pastor. He studied theology at the universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg, 1575-1579, and became a pastor himself. It was a time of religious wars in Europe, and several times he had to flee or go into hiding and minister to his congregations secretly in house meetings. He was a theological writer, defending Lutheran theology chiefly against Calvinistic opponents. He also preached with great power and effectiveness. In 1588 he became pastor at Altwildungen, in 1596 he became pastor at Unna in Westphalia, and in 1601 pastor in Hamburg. But he is remembered today for writing two hymns.

While he was pastor in Westphalia, the plague took 1300 of his parishioners, mostly in the latter half of 1597, 170 in one week. To comfort his parishioners, he wrote a series of meditations which he called Freudenspiegel (Mirror of Joy), and to this he appended two hymns, both of which have become world-famous.

The first hymn was, "Wake, awake, for night is flying" (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme). It uses the image of the watchman on a city wall (Isaiah 52:8), and of the Parable of the Bridesmaids welcoming the Bridegroom to the Marriage Feast (Matthew 25:1-13), and of the Song of Triumph in Heaven (Revelation 19:6-9). It is a favorite Advent hymn.

The second hymn was, "How bright appears the morning star" (Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern). This also, with a wealth of imagery, hails Christ as our deliverer, and celebrates his triumph. It has become a favorite wedding hymn, but is also sung for Advent, for Christmas, for Epiphany, and and as a general hymn of praise.

Nicolai wrote both the words and the tunes, but the arrangements we know are due to Bach. The earliest English translations are those of Catherine Winkworth, but there have been many translations since, some of them (especially for the second hymn) content to reproduce the general spirit of the original words rather than their specific meaning. In addition, several hymnwriters have set their own words (in various languages) to one of Nicolai's tunes. If pure quality, without respect to quantity, were our criterion, Nicolai would have to be ranked as history's greatest chorale-writer, and one of its greatest hymn-writers.

Nicolai died 26 October 1608 after a brief (four-day) illness.

Source: http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/JEK/10/24.html

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