Philipp Jacob Spener

Short Name: Philipp Jacob Spener
Full Name: Spener, Philipp Jacob, 1635-1705
Birth Year: 1635
Death Year: 1705

Spener, Philipp Jakob, D.D., son of Johann Philipp Spener, keeper of the archives of Count von Rappoltstein, at Rappoltsweiler, near Colmar, in Alsace, was born at Rappoltsweiler, Jan. 13 (25), 1635. He matriculated at the University of Strassburg, in 1651, and graduated M.A. in 1653. From 1654 to 1656 he had the oversight of the studies of two sons of the Pfalzgraf Christian I. In 1659 he went to Basel, and then spent a year at Geneva. He left Geneva in 1661, and accompanied the young Count von Rappoltstein to Württemberg, staying principally at Stuttgart and Tübingen. During 1662 he gave some University lectures at Tübingen. He was then appointed, in 1663, as general preacher at Strassburg (D.D. from the University in 1664), and gave also University lectures there; preaching his farewell sermon in the Cathedral on July 3, 1666. He then became chief pastor of the Franciscan church (Barfüsserkirche, now St. Paul's), and Senior of the Lutheran clergy at Frankfurt am Main. Here, in Aug. 1670, he began to hold the Collegia pietatis or prayer meetings which are regarded as the beginnings of Pietism. During this period he published his famous Pia desideria. In 1686 he was called to become senior court preacher at Dresden, then regarded as the most important post in the German Lutheran church. Here, however, he found much in the court life which needed reformation; and finally, on the general Fast day, Feb. 23, 1689, he addressed to the Elector Johann Georg III., a respectful, but perfectly definite, remonstrance regarding his drinking habits. From this timry forth the Elector planned his removal, and with his knowledge and consent Spener at last received from the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm III., of Brandenburg, an invitation to become Probst of the St. Nicholas church, Consistorialrath, and Inspector of Schools and Churches at Berlin. He preached his first sermon in Berlin on June 21, 1691, and his last on July 1, 1704. In the last months of his life he was unable to undertake any duty. He died at Berlin, Feb. 5, 1705 (Koch, iv., 201, v., 663; Goedeke's Grundriss, vol. iii., 1887, p. 204; Herzog's Real-Encyklopädie, xiv., 500, &c).

Spener was a man of high personal character, and of unquestionable sincerity. By means of his official positions, of his intercourse with men of light and leading all over Germany, and through the extensive correspondence on spiritual matters by which he became the con¬fessor of hundreds of all ranks and classes of the German people, he greatly moulded the religious life of his times. He came into fame and influence as the leader of a great religious movement. During his latter years at Berlin he had the pleasure of seeing the University of Halle founded (formally opened in 1694), and of finding his friends and pupils, like A. H. Francke and P. Anton, appointed professors, and propagating his teachings there, and bringing on the triumph of the Pietistic movement.
To Hymnology Spener did not make important contributions. Though he wrote a great deal of verse, hardly any of it could be called poetry. His hymns derive their interest from the fact of their authorship rather than from their intrinsic value. In them we find the characteristic points of view of the Pietistic school, and they give the keynote to many of the later Pietistic hymns. They are only nine in all, and appeared in the Frankfurt ed., 1674, of Crüger's Praxis.

Those of Spener's hymns which have passed into English are:—
i. Nun ist auferstanden. Easter. First published 1674, as above, No. 264, in 10 stanzas of 10 lines, marked as by "P. J. S. D." In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder ed., 1863, No. 313. The translation is from the text of the Württemberg Gesang-Buch, 1842, No. 169, which begins, "Aus des Todesbanden." The translation is “Lo! death's bands are riven." In the British Herald, July 1866, p. 296, signed "W. T. H." Repeated in Reid's Praise Book, 1872.
ii. So ists an dem dass ich mit Freuden. For the Dying. His finest hymn. First published 1674, as above, No. 755, in 6 stanzas of 8 lines, marked, "P. J. S. D." In Bunsen's Versuch, 1833, No. 901. Translated as “Then now at last the hour is come." By Miss Winkworth, 1858, p. 218.
iii. Soll ich denn mich täglich kränken. Resignation. First pub. 1674, as above, No. 527, in 12 st. of 8 1., marked “P. J. Spener D." In Knapp's Evangelischer Lieder-Schatz, 1837 and 1865. Tr. as "Shall I o'er the future fret." By Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 270. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Texts by Philipp Jacob Spener (9)sort iconAsInstances
And now, at last, the hour is comeDr. P. J. Spener (Author)2
Aus des TodesbandenPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)9
Come unto me, I'll give you restPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)2
Es sei Herr deine GutigkeitPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)2
Free is thy grace whereby we tracePhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)2
Nun ist auferstandenPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)14
Soll ich mich denn t'glich kr'nkenPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)2
We are marching home to glory in the steps of JesusPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)2
When sorrow taxes all our strengthPhilipp Jacob Spener (Author)2



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