Herbert, Petrus, seems to have been a native of or resident at Fulnek in Moravia. He was ordained priest of the Brethren's Unity in 1562, became a member of the Select Council in 1567, and was latterly Consenior of the Unity. By the Unity he was entrusted with many important missions. He was sent as a deputy to confer with Calvin: and again in 1562 to arrange with Duke Christoph of Württemberg for the education at Tübingen of young men from the Bohemian Brethren. He was also one of the deputies sent to Vienna to present the revised form of the Brethren's Confession of Faith to the Emperor Maximilian II. in 1564, and in 1566 to present their new German Hymn Book. He died at Eibenschütz in 1571 (Koch, ii. 414, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, xiii. 263-264, &c.). Herbert was one of the principal compilers of the enlarged edition of the Brethren's German Hymn Book published in 1566 as their Kirchengeseng, and contributed to it some 90 hymns. In the ed. of 1639 there are 104 hymns marked as his. His hymns are distinguished by simplicity and beauty of style. A number are translations from the Bohemian. His hymns translated into English include:—
i. Die Nacht ist kommen drin wir ruhen sollen. [Evening] Written probably under the pressure of persecution and oppression. In the G. 2?., 1566, as above, in 5 stanzas of 7 lines (the last stanza being a versification of the Lord's Prayer), and thence in Wackernagel, iv. p. 442, and the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 515. In J. H. Schein's Cantiona, 1627, it appears as No. 99, with an additional stanza not by Herbert, which reads—
Denn wir kein besser Zuflucht konnen haben,
,Als zu dir, 0 Herr, in dem Himmel droben,
Du veriest keinen, gibst Acht auff die deinen.
Die dich recht meyuen,"
This stanza is included as stanza v. in the version in Bunsen's Versuch, 1833, No. 43. Translated as:—
1. The night is come, wherein at last we rest, in full from Bunsen by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 2nd Ser., 1858, p. 77, repeated as No. 105 in R. Minton Taylor's Collection, 1872.
2. Now God be with us, for the night is closing, a good translation from Bunsen, in the original metre, by Miss Winkworth, as No. 170 in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, and repeated in her Christian Singers of Germany, 1869, p. 139. This version has been included in various recent collections, though generally abridged or altered, as in the Hymnary, 1872; Thring's Collection, 1882; and in America in the Evangelical Hymnal, N. Y., 1880, &c. In Laudes Domini, N.Y., 1884, it is in two parts (Nos. 209-210), the second beginning, "Father, Thy name be praised, Thy kingdom given." This is stanza vi. with an added doxology, as in the Hymnary, 1872.
Other translations are:—
(1) "The night comes apace," as No. 293 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. (2) “Lo! evening's shades to sleep invite," by H. J. Buckoll, 1842, p. 64.
ii. 0 Christenmensch, merk wie sichs halt. [Faith] 1566, as above, in 18 stanzas of 4 lines, repeated in Wackernagel, iv. p. 433. In Bunsen's Versuch , 1833, No. 390 Allgemeine Gesang-Buch, 1846, No. 130), the hymn begins with stanza iii. altered to "Der Glaub’ ist ein lebend'ge Kraft," and consists of stanzas iii., viii., xi., xii., xvi., xviii. Bunsen calls it "a noble confession of the true Christian faith." Translated as:—
Faith is a living power from heaven. A good translation from Bunsen by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 2nd ser., 1858, p. 160, and thence in her Chorale Book for England, 1863. It is repeated, more or less altered and abridged, in Kennedy, 1863; and in America in the Presbyterian Hymnal, 1874, Baptist Service of Song, 1871, &c.
ii. Hymns not in English common use:—
iii. Des Herren Wort bleibt in Ewigkeit. [Holy Scripture.] 1566, as above, in 25 stanzas, and in Wackernagel, iv. p. 432. Translated as "God's holy Word, which ne’er shall cease," by J. Swertner, as No. 3 in the Moravian Hymn Book1789 (1849, No. 2).
iv. Fürchtet Gott, 0 lieben Leut. [Martyrs.] 1566, as above, in 13 stanzas, and in Wackernagel, iv. p. 429. The translations are, (i.) "O love God, ye people dear," as No. 267 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. (2) "O exalt and praise the Lord" (from the version in the Brüder Gesang-Buch1778, beginning "Liebet Gott"), as No. 871 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789 (1886, No. 1306).
v. Lasst uns mit Lust und Freud aus Olauben singen. [Eternal Life.] A fine hymn on the Joys of Heaven. 1566, as above, in 12 stanzas, and in Wackernagel, iv. p. 447. Translated as "In faith we sing this song of thank-fulness," by Mrs. Bevan, 1858, p. 34.
vi. 0 höchster Trost, heiliger Geist [Whitsuntide.] 1566, as above, in 13 stanzas, and Wackernagel, iv. p. 407. The translations are, (1) "O highest comfort, Holy Ghost," as No. 262 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. (2) "O Comforter, God Holy Ghost," as No. 203 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789 (1849, No. 265).
Besides the above a number of hymns by Herbert (all of which appeared in the Kirchengeseng, 1566, and are included in Wackernagel’s vol. iv.) were translated in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. The numbers in the 1754 are 166, 259, 263, 264, 265, 266, 274, 277, 281, 287, and 294. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology