Mentzer, Johann, was born July 27, 1658, at Jahmen, near Rothenburg, in Silesia, and became a student of theology at Wittenberg, In 1691 he was appointed pastor at Merzdorf; in 1693 at Hauswalde, near Bischofswerda; and in 1696 at Kemnitz, near Bernstadt, Saxony. He died at Kemnitz, Feb. 24, 1734 (G. F. Otto's Lexicon . . . Oberlausizischer Schriftsteller, ii., 581; ms. from Pastor Richter of Kemnitz, &c).
He was a great friend of J. C. Schwedler, of Henrietta Catherine von Gersdorf, and of N. L. von Zinzendorf, all hymnwriters, and all his near neighbours. He was himself greatly tried in the furnace of affliction. He wrote a large number of hymns, over 30 of which appeared in the various hymnbooks of his time. Many of them, especially those of Praise and Thanksgiving, and those of Cross and Consolation, are of high merit, though sometimes exaggerated and not very refined in their imagery, and are full of ardent love to Christ, Scriptural, poetical, and also popular in style.
The only one in English common use is:—
0 dass ich tausend Zungen hatte. Praise and Thanksgiving. His best hymn. First published as No. 496, in Freylinghausen's Gesang-Buch, 1704, in 15 st. of 6 1., and repeated in many later collections as the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 719.
Lauxmann, in Koch viii. 350, says this hymn was written in 1704 after his house was burned down. In reply to enquiries addressed to Kemnitz, pastor Richter informs me that the parsonage house there was built in the years 1696 and 1697, and has never been burned down. In 1697 a farmhouse near was destroyed by lightning, and possibly Mentzer may have been living there at the time; or at any rate this may have suggested the hymn and the story. Lauxmann speaks of the hymn as having been a great favourite of Caroline Perthes of Hamburg, and of J. C. Schlipalius of Dresden, and relates various incidents regarding its blessed and comforting effects.
The translations in common use are:—
1. Oh that I had a thousand voices! A mouth. A full translation by Dr. H. Mills, in his Horae Germanica, 1845 (1856, p. 189); repeated, abridged, in the American Lutheran General Synod's Collection, 1850-52, the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880, &c.
2. Oh be unceasing praise ascending. A good translation of st. i., vii., viii., by A. T. Russell, as No. 203, in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851.
3. Oh would I had a thousand tongues. A good translation, omitting stanzas ix., x., xiii., by Miss Winkworth, in her Lyra Germanica, 1st Ser., 1855, p. 170; and repeated, abridged, in the Methodist New Congregational Hymn Book, 1863.
4. 0 would, my God, that I could praise Thee. A good translation, in the original metre, by Miss Winkworth, in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 5, being of stanzas i., iii.—v, xiv., xv. This was repeated in the Evangelical Hymnal, N. Y., 1830. A filtered form, beginning with st. iii., "0 all ye powers that God implanted” is in Dr. Knight's Collection, Dundee, 1871 and 1874.
5. I praise Thee, 0 my God and Father. By Miss Winkworth, in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 6. This is of st. vi.-viii., xi., xii., and fol¬lows the text of Bunsen's Versuch, 1833, No. 846, this stanza beginning there, "Lob sei dir, treuer Gott und Vater." Her translation is repeated in Dr. Thomas's Augustine Hymn Book, 1866.
Other translations are:—
(1) "0 that a thousand tongues were granted," by N. L. Frothingham, 1810, p. 155. (2) "0 that a thousand tongues were mine, And each," by Dr. Alexander Mair in the Family Treasury, 1872, p. 462.
Other hymns by Mentzer, translated into English but not in common use are:—
ii. Du gehest in den Garten beten. Passiontide. First published in the Löbau Gesang-Buch, 1725, as No. 370, in 12 stanzas of 6 lines, marked as by Mentzer and entitled "The true school of prayer of Jesus, praying on the Mount of Olives, Matt. xxvi. 36-46." In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 223, beginning "Du gehst zum Garten urn zu beten," and wrongly ascribed to B. Schmolck. Translated as "Into the garden shade to pray," by J. Kelly, in the Family Treasury, 1868, p. 691.
iii. Wer das Kleinod will erlangen. Christian Warfare. A call to spiritual energy, founded on 1 Cor. ix. 24, 25. Included as No. 783 in the Neuvermehrtes Geistreiches Gesang-Buch Berlin, 1711, in 6 stanzas of 8 lines; and previously in Schlechtiger's Gesang-Buch, Berlin, 1704. In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 679. Translated as "Who would make the prize his own." By Miss Winkworth, 1858, p. 167. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)