Wolfgang Christoph Dessler

Short Name: Wolfgang Christoph Dessler
Full Name: Dessler, Wolfgang Christoph, 1660-1722
Birth Year: 1660
Death Year: 1722

Dessler, Wolfgang Christoph, son of Nicolaus Dessler, jeweller, at Nürnberg, was born at Nürnberg, Feb. 11, 1660. His father wished him to become a goldsmith, but, as he was not physically suited for this, he was permitted to begin the study of theology at the University of Altdorf. His poverty and bodily weakness forced him to leave before completing his course, and, returning to Nurnberg, he supported himself there as a proof reader. Becoming acquainted with Erasmus Finx or Francisci, then residing in Nürnberg, he was employed by Finx as his amanuensis, and at his request translated many foreign religious works into German. In 1705 he was appointed Conrector of the School of the Holy Ghost at Nürnberg, where he laboured with zeal and acceptance till
1720, when, by a stroke of paralysis, he was forced to resign. Finally, after an illness which lasted about 35 weeks, he died at Nürnberg, March 11,1722. Of his hymns, in all over 100, the best appeared, many with melodies by himself, in his volume of meditations entitled:—

Gottgeheiligter Christen Nützlich Ergetzende Seelenlust unter den Blumen Gottliches Worts, oder andächtige Betrachtungen und Gedanken über unterschiedliche erläuterte Schriftspruche, &c. Nürnberg, 1692 [Berlin] (Koch, iii. 531-535, and iv. 566-567).

From this work (the references to which have been kindly supplied by Dr. Zahn of Altdorf, from his copy), five hymns have been translated into English, viz.:—

Hymns in English common use:—
i. Ich lass dich nicht, du musst mein Jesus bleiben. [Constancy to Christ.] Founded on Genesis xxxii. 36. First published 1692, as above, p. 553, along with Meditation xviii., which is entitled "The striving love." Wetzel (A. H., vol. i., pt. iv., p. 20) says it was sung, at her re¬quest, Sept. 5, 1726, at the deathbed of Christiana Eberhardina, a pious Queen of Poland. In the Berlin Geistliche LiedersegenI will not let Thee go, Thou Help in time of need, a fine translation, beginning with stanzas iv. ("Ich lass dich nicht, du Hülf in alien Nothen"), and adding trs. of stanzas v., ix., by Miss Winkworth, in the 1st ser., 1855, of her Lyra Germanica, p. 59. Thence as No. 851 in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1875; No. 205 in the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876; No. 139 in the Canadian Presbyterian Hymn Book, 1880.
Another translation is, “I leave Thee not, Thou art my Jesus ever," by Dr. J. W. Alexander, first published in Dr. Schaff's Kirchenfreund, 1851, p. 140 (reprinted in the Christian Treasury, Edin. 1851, p. 378), and included in his The Breaking Crucible, &c, N. Y., 1861, p. 19. In Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 555.
ii. Mein Jesu dem die Seraphinen. [Ascension.] Founded on Jeremiah x. 7. 1st published 1692, as above, p. 348, along with Meditation xii., which is entitled "Christ's kingly and unapproachable glory.”* Thence as No. 278 in Freylinghausen's Gesang-Buch, 1704, and recently as No. 422 in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, in 8 stanzas of 8 lines. Translated as:—
1. Jesu, Whose glory's streaming rays, a spirited tr., omitting stanzas vii.. viii., by J. Wesley, in Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1739 (Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. i. p. 89). In the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1780, stanzas i.-iii. were included as No. 129 (ed. 1875, No. 133), and stanzas iv:-vi., beginning "Into Thy gracious hands I fall," as No. 188 (ed. 1875," No. 196). Recently the first part has been given in America as No. 64 in H. L. Hastings' Hymnal, 1880, and the second as No. 496 in the Methodist Episcopal Hymn Book, 1849, and as No. 464 in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868.
2. O Jesu, Lord, enthroned in glory, a good translation of stanzas i., ii., v., by A. T. Russell, as No. 199 in his Psalms & Hymns., 1851.
3. My Jesus, Whom the seraph host, a good and full translation by R. Massie, for the 1857 ed. of Mercer's Church Psalm & Hymn Book, No. 135 (omitted in Ox. ed.), reprinted in the translator's Lyra Domestica, 1864, p. 129.
4. My Jesus, if the seraphim, a good and full translation by Miss Winkworth in the 2nd series of her Lyra Germanica, 1858, p. 50; and thence, unaltered, in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 342. In her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 67, stanzas iv.7 vii., were omitted, and the rest altered in metre; and thence as No. 141 in J. L. Porter's Collection, 1876.
Other translation are: (i) “O Jesu! 'fore whose radiation," by J. Gambold, as No. 623 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754 (1886, No. 312). (2) "My Saviour, whom in heavenly places," in J. Sheppard's Foreign Sacred Lyre, 1857, p. 78.
iii. Wie wohl ist mir, O Freund der Seelen. [The Love of Christ.] Founded on Canticles viii. 5. First published 1692, as above, p. 154, along with Meditation vi., which is entitled "The penitential forsaking and embracing." Included as No. 451 in Freylinghausen's Gesang-Buch, 1704, and recently as No. 438 in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, in 6 stanzas of 10 lines. Lauxmann, in Koch, viii., 243, says of it:—

"This hymn dates from the period when Dessler as a youth was residing in his native town of Nürnberg in ill health. He had given up the occupation of gold¬smith and set himself to study at Altdorf, but lack of money and of health compelled him to abandon this also. He then maintained himself as a proof reader in his native town, became the spiritual son and scholar in poesy of Erasmus Francisci, in whose powerful faith he found nourishment in his sorrows. Through his linguistic attainments, as well as through his hymns, he furthered the edification of the Christian populace; and what he here sung may have afforded stimulus to himself in the still greater troubles which he afterwards had to endure during his conrectorship, and finally in his last thirty-five weeks illness."

Fischer (ii. 391) calls it—
"One of the finest hymns of Pietism, that has produced many blessed effects, and has been the model and incitement to many hymns of like character."
It is translated as:—
1. How well am I, Thou my soul's lover, in full as No. 621 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. Greatly altered, and omitting stanzas ii., v., as No. 295 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789, beginning, "How blest am I, most gracious Saviour," and continued thus in later eds. In 1840 Dr. Martineau included a hymn in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, beginning, "What comforts, Lord, to those are given," as No. 294 in his Hymns, &c. (ed. 1873, No. 384). Of this stanzas i., ii. are based on stanza i., stanza iii. on stanza ii., and stanza iv. on stanza iii. of the 1789.
2. O Lord, how happy is the time, a somewhat free tr. of stanzas i.-v., with stanzas i., slightly varied, repeated as stanza vi., by Greville Matheson. Contributed to the Hymns & Sacred Songs, Manchester, 1855 (ed. 1856, No. 226), repeated in the Sunday Magazine, 1872, p. 741, and in Dr. G. Macdonald's Threefold Cord, 1883, p. 38. In the Hymns for the Sick Room, N. Y., 1859 (1861, p. 70), and Hymns of the Ages, 3rd Series, Boston, U.S., 1864, p. 233, it is considerably altered. This text is given in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 491, further altered, and beginning "O Friend of souls! how blest the time"; Miss Winkworth's tr. of stanzas v., altered, being substituted for Mr. Matheson's. In the Methodist Episcopal Hymnal, 1878, No. 613, is stanzas i., ii., v. of Schaff s text.
3. O Friend of Souls, how well is me, a good translation omitting stanza iii. by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 1st taken as No. 513 in Hymns of the Spirit, Boston, U.S., 1864.
Another is: “Tis well with me, O Friend unfailing,” by Miss Burlingham in the British Herald, Dec. 1865, p. 185, repeated as No. 395 in Reid's Praise Book, 1872.

Hymns not in English common use:—
iv. Frisch, frisch hinnach, mein Geist und Herz. [Cross and Consolation.] Founded on Heb. x., 36. 1st published 1692 as above, p. 423, in 7 stanzas. It is translated as "Courage, my heart, press cheerly on," by Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 277.
v. Oeffne mir die Perlenpforten. (Longing for Heaven.] Founded on Rev. xxii, 14. 1st published 1692 as above, p. 384, in 6 stanzas. It is translated as "Now the pearly gates unfold," by Miss Winkworth, 1858, p. 176. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

Texts by Wolfgang Christoph Dessler (35)sort descendingAsAuthority LanguagesInstances
Du reine Sonne meiner Seel'Wolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German2
Extended on a cursed treeDessler (Author)English3
Friede, ach Friede, ach göttlicher FriedeWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German1
Frisch, frisch hinnach, mein Geist und HerzWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German9
Herr Jesu Christ, du kennest wohl der Schultern ihr VermögenW. C. Deßler, g. 1660 † 1722 (Author)German3
Hier ist mein Herz, o Seel'Wolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German3
How blest I am, most gracious SaviorWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)5
I leave thee not, thou art my Jesus everWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)English6
I thirst, Thou wounded Lamb of GodDessler (Author)English3
I will not let Thee go; Thou Help in time of need!Wolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)English9
Ich kriech', Erlöser, dir zu FüßenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German3
Ich lass dich nicht, du musst mein Jesus bleibenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German3
Ich wart' auf dich, und sehne michWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German3
Into thy gracious hands I fallWolfgang C. Dessler (Author)English11
Jesus, whose glory's streaming raysWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)English10
Lord, take my heart, and let it beWolfgang C. Deszler (Author)English1
Mein Jesu, dem die SeraphinenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German21
Mir winkt die WeltWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German2
My Jesus, if the SeraphimW. C. Dessler (Author)English6
My soul's best friend, what joy and blessingWolfgang C. Dessler (Author)English4
My soul's true friend, what bliss, what pleasureWolfgang Ch. Dessler (Author)English2
Nach dir, o Herr, verlanget mich mein Gott lass mein (Dessler)Wolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German2
Now the pearly gates unfoldWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)English2
O Friend of souls, how blessed am IWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)English1
O Friend of souls, how blest the timeW. C. Dessler (Author)English12
O Friend of souls, how well is meWolfgang C. Deszler (Author)English11
O God of good, the unfathomed seaWolfgang C. Dessler (Author)English1
O Lord, how happy is the timeWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)English8
Öffne mir die PerlentoreW. C. Deßler, 1600-1722 (Author)German7
Wer bin ich, dass ich darf wagenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German2
What comforts, Lord, to those are givenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)2
What wealth of joy Thy presence lendethW. Dessler (Author)English1
Wie lang, wie lang willst du, Herr, mein vergessenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German2
Wie lange schlagt ihr mich, ihr GedankenWolfgang Christoph Dessler (Author)German2
Wie wohl ist mir, o Freund der SeelenWolfgang Christoph Deßler, 1660-1722 (Author)German55

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