Johannes Olearius (b. Halle, Germany, 1611; d. Weissenfels, Germany, 1684) Born into a family of Lutheran theologians, Olearius received his education at the University of Wittenberg and later taught theology there. He was ordained a Lutheran pastor and appointed court preacher to Duke August of Sachsen-Weissenfels in Halle and later to Duke Johann Adolph in Weissenfels. Olearius wrote a commentary on the entire Bible, published various devotional books, and produced a translation of the Imitatio Christi by Thomas a Kempis. In the history of church music Olearius is mainly remembered for his hymn collection, which was widely used in Lutheran churches.
Olearius, Johannes, son of Johann Olearius, pastor of St. Mary's Church and superintendent at Halle, was born at Halle, Sept. 17, (N.S.) 1611. He entered the University of Wittenberg in 1629 (M.A. 1632, D.D. 1643], where he became lecturer, and, in 1635, adjunct of the philosophical faculty. In 1637 he became Superintendent at Querfurt; and, in 1643, was appointed by Duke August of Sachsen-Weissenfels as his chief court preacher, and private chaplain at Halle, where he became in 1657 Kirchenrath, and in 1664 General Superintendent. When, on the death of Duke August in 1680, the administration of Magdeburg fell to the Elector of Brandenburg, Duke Johann Adolf gave Olearius similar appointments at Weissenfels, which he held till his death on April 24, 1684 (Koch, iii. 346; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie xxiv. 279, &c).
Olearius was the author of a Commentary on the whole Bible, and of various devotional works. He was also the compiler of one of the largest and most important German hymn-books of the 17th century, viz. the Geistliche Singe-Kunst, of which the first edition appeared at Leipzig in 1671, with 1207 (1218) hymns, and the second at Leipzig in 1672, with 1340. The first edition contained 302 hymns by Olearius himself, and marked "D. J. O." They may best be described as useful, being for times and seasons hitherto unprovided for, and filling up many gaps in the various sections of the German hymn-books. They are mostly short, many of only two verses, simple and easy of comprehension, often happy in expression and catching, and embodying in a concise form the leading ideas of the season or subject. Many were speedily adopted into German hymn-books, and a considerable number are still in use.
Of Olearius's hymns the following have passed into English:—
i. Gelobet sei der Herr. Trinity Sunday. One of his best hymns. Founded on the Gospel for Trinity Sunday. Included in 1(571 as above, No. 709, in 5 stanzas of 8 lines, and entitled "Encouragement from the Gospel to thankful meditation on this great mystery." In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder ed. 1863, No. 17. Translated as:—
1. Blest be my Lord and God. A good translation, omitting st. v. by A. T. Russell, as No. 134, in his Psalms & Hymns 1851.
2. 0 praise the Lord! His name extol. A version of st. i.-iii., as No. 115 in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
ii. Herr Jesu Christ, dein theures Blut. Passiontide. His finest hymn. Founded on I St. John i. 7. In 1671 as above, No. 576, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines and entitled "Meditation on the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ." St. ii. is based on the hymn “In Christi Wunden schlaf ich ein" (p. 319, ii.). In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, edition 1863, No. 233. Translated as:—
1. Lord Jesu Christ! Thy precious blood Brings to my soul. A good and full translation by A. T. Russell, as No. 161 in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851.
2. Lord Jesus Christ! Thy precious blood Is to my soul. In full by C. H. L. Schnette, as No. 77 in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
Another translation is "Lord Jesus Christ, Thy blessed blood." By Miss Manington, 1863, p. 43.
iii. Herr, öffhe mir die Herzensthür. Holy Scripture. After Sermon. In 1671 as above, No. 975, in 2 stanzas and a doxology. In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 422. The translation in common use is:—
Lord, open Thou my heart to hear, And by Thy Word to me draw near. In full by Dr. M. Loy in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
iv. Nun kommt das neue Kirchenjahr. Advent. In 1671 as above, No. 384, in 3 stanzas and a doxology. In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 145. The translation is:—
The new Church year again is come. By E. Cronenwett, as No. 15 in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, l880.
v. Tröstet, tröstet meine Lieben. St. John Baptist's Day. In 1671 as above, No. 733, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines, and entitled "Meditation on the Lesson of the Festival. Isaiah xl." In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 124. Translated as:—
Comfort, comfort ye my people. A full and good translation by Miss Winkworth, as No. 83 in her Chorale Book for England, 1863. Repeated in full in the Parish Hymn Book, 1865, and the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880, and, omitting st. ii. in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868.
Other hymns by Olearius have been translated into English, viz.:—
vi. Gott Lob, mein Jesus macht mich rein. Presentation in the Temple. In 1671 as above, No. 507, as a hymn on the Purification in 6 stanzas, and entitled "Encouragement from the Gospel," viz. St. Luke ii. 22-32. In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 1270. The form tr. is "Durch Jesum kann ich auch mit Freud," which is No. 428 in Knapp's Evangelischer Liederschatz, 1837, and is st. iv.-vi. altered. Translated as "I too, through Jesus, may in peace." By Dr. H. Mills, 1845 (1856, p. 277).
vii. Sollt ich meinem Gott nicht trauen. Trust in God. In 1671 as above, No. 878, in 6 stanzas, and entitled “Encouragement from the Gospel," viz. St. Matt. vi. 24 ff, the Gospel for the 15th Sunday after Trinity. In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 857. Tr. as, "Shall I not trust my God." By Miss Warner, 1858, p. 206.
viii. Wenn dich Unglüick hat betreten. Cross and Consolation. In 1671 as above, No. 827, in 6 st., and entitled "Encouragement from the Gospel," viz. St. Matt. xv. 21-28, the Gospel for Reminiscere Sunday (2nd Sunday in Lent). In Porst's Gesang-Buch, ed. 1855, No. 997. The translations are (1) "When afflictions sore oppress you." By Miss Cox, 1841, p. 129. (2) "When affliction rends the heart." By Lady E. Fortescue, 1843, p. 55. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)