Johannes Tauler

Short Name: Johannes Tauler
Full Name: Tauler, Johannes, ca. 1300-1361
Birth Year (est.): 1300
Death Year: 1361

Tauler, Johannes, was born at Strassburg about 1300, and seems to have been the son of Nikolus Tauler or Taweler, of Finkweiler, who in 1304 was a member of the Strassburg Town Council (Mitglied des Raths). About the year 1318 he entered the Dominican convent at Strassburg. He studied for eight years at Strassburg, where the famous Meister Eckhart (d. 1327) was Dominican Professor of Theology from 1312 to 1320. He then went to Cologne to undergo a further training, in theory and practical work, extending over four years. Thereafter he returned to Strassburg where he soon came into note as an eloquent and practical preacher. When much of Germany was laid under interdict by Pope John XXII., because of resenting his interference with the election of the German Emperor in 1324, the Dominicans at Strassburg still continued to preach, to celebrate mass, and to administer to the people the consolations of the Church, even though Strassburg was under the Papal bann. After the Diet of Frankfurt in 1338 the strife between Emperor and Pope (now Benedict XII., Pope since 1334) became more pronounced. Up to 1339 the Dominicans at Strassburg still continued to sing mass, but were then compiled to cease doing so by command of the superiors of their Order. As the Strassburg magistracy still remained faithful to the Emperor, they resented this submission, and accordingly closed the Dominican convent in 1339, and it stood empty lor three years and a half. About the beginning of 1339 we find Tauler in Basel, where he remained for some years, in close connection with Heinrich of Nördlingen and others of the so-called "Friends of God" in that city and neighbourhood. About 1346 he was again in Strassburg, aud he spent most of the remainder of his life there and at Cologne. He died at Strassburg on June 16, 1361.
Three Friends of God, London, 1887. The basis of the common account was a work by Rulmann Merswin, which Denifle's investigations have shown to partake much more of the nature of a novel with a purpose than of authentic history .
Tauler was one of the most celebrated of the Mediaeval Mystics, and one of the most famous of all German preachers. Much uncertainty still exists however, not only as to details of his life, but also as to what writings may safely be ascribed to him. The best authenticated are his Sermons, which were first printed at Leipzig in 1498. The famous Theologia Germanica (good English version by Susanna Winkworth, London, 1854, with an interesting introduction on the “Friends of God") has also often been ascribed to him, but on no good grounds; though in its working out of the idea that a godly life is the renunciation of self and self-will, and complete devotion to the will of God, and that in this inner union with God we ag.iin become God's children, as at the first, the Theologia Germanica has much affinity with Tauler's teachings.

Werke, Cologne, 1543, and by Daniel Sudermann, in his Schöne ausserlesene sinnreiche Figuren, Strassburg, 1620, and his Etliche hohe geistliche Gesänge, Strassburg, 1626. Sudermann seems to have rewritten them, or at least considerably altered them. Wachernagel, ii. pp. 302-307, gives 11 (really 9) pieces under Tauler's name. Three of these have passed into English, viz.:—
i. Es kommt ein Schiff geladen. Christmas. Wackernagel, ii. p. 302, gives three versions of this hymn. The translation in common use is:—
There comes a galley sailing. This is a good and full translation by Dr. R. F. Littledale for thePeople's Hymnal, 1867, No. 37, and signed "D. L."
Other translations are:—
(1) "There comes a bark full laden." By C. W. Shields in Sacred Lyrics from the German, Philadelphia, U. S., 1859, p. 109. (2) "There comes a galley laden." By Dr. E. V. Kenealy, in his Poems and Translations, London, 1864, p. 441, repeated in Lyra Messianica, ed. 1865, p. 98, in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869 and 1870, &c. (3) "A ship comes sailing onwards." By Miss Winkworth, 1869, p, 84.
ii. Ich muss die Creaturen fliehen. Self Renunciation. Wackernagel, ii. p. 302, gives two versions, the first from two Strassburg mamiscripts of the 15th century, the second from Daniel Sudermann's Figuren, pt. ii., 1620, both being in 3 stanzas of 4 lines. Translated as “From outward creatures I must flee." By Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 74.
iii. 0 Jesu Christ, ein lieblichs Gut. Love to Christ. Wackernagel, ii. p. 304, gives this, in 15 stanzas of 4 lines, from Daniel Sudermann's Gesang-Buch of 1600-1601, a manuscript now in the Royal Library at Berlin. It is translated as "O Jesu Christ, most Good, most Fair." By Miss Winkuorth, 1869, p. 75. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

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

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