Michael Weiss was born at Neisse, in Silesia. He was a pastor among the Bohemian Brethren, and a contemporary with Luther. His hymns have received commendation. He died in 1540.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872.
Weisse, Michael (Weiss, Wiss, Wegs, Weys, Weyss), was born circa 1480, in Neisse, Silesia, took priest's orders, and was for some time a monk at Breslau. When the early writings of Luther came into his hands, Weisse, with two other monks, abandoned the convent, and sought refuge in the Bohemian Brethren's House at Leutomischl in Bohemia. He became German preacher (and apparently founder of the German communities) to the Bohemian Brethren at Landskron in Bohemia, and Fulnck in Moravia, and died at Landskron in 1534 (Koch, ii. 115-120; Wackernagel's D. Kirchenlied, i. p. 727; Fontes rerum Austricarum, Scriptores, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 227, Vienna, 18G3, &c).
Weisse was admitted as a priest among the Brethren at the Synod of Brandeis, in 1531, and in 1532 was appointed a member of their Select Council, but he had previously performed important missions for the Brethren. He was, e.g., sent by Bishop Lucas, in 1522, along with J. Roh or Horn, to explain the views of the Bohemian Brethren to Luther; and again, in 1524, when they were appointed more especially to report on the practices and holiness of life of the followers of the German Reformers. He was also entrusted with the editing of the first German hymn-book of the Bohemian Brethren, which appeared as Ein New Gesengbuchlen at Jungen Bunzel (Jung Bunzlau) in Bohemia in 1531. This contained 155 hymns, all apparently either translations or else originals by himself. The proportion of translations is not very clear. In the preface to the 1531, Weisse addressing the German Communities at Fulnek and Landskron says, "I have also, according to my power, put forth all my ability, your old hymn-book as well as the Bohemian hymn-book (Cantional) being before me, and have brought the same sense, in accordance with Holy Scripture, into German rhyme."
Luther called Weisse "a good poet, with somewhat erroneous views on the Sacrament" (i.e. Holy Communion); and, after the Sacramental hymns had been revised by Roh (1544), included 12 of his hymns in V. Babst's Gesang-Buch, 1545. Many of his hymns possess considerable merit. The style is flowing and musical, the religious tone is earnest and manly, but yet tender and truly devout, and the best of them are distinguished by a certain charming simplicity of thought and expression. At least 119 passed into the German Lutheran hymnbooks of the 16th and 17th centuries, and many are still in use.
The following hymns by Weisse have also passed into English:—
i. Christus ist erstanden. Von des Todes Banden. Easter. First published 1531 as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 273, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. It is suggested by the older hymn, "Christ ist erstanden". In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 129. The translation in common use is:—
Christ the Lord is risen again! This is a full and very good translation by Miss Winkworth, in her Lyra Germanica, 2nd Ser., 1858, p. 37, and her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 58. It has been included in many recent English and American hymnals. Other translations are:—
(1) "Christ (and 'tis no wonder"). This is No. 260 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. (2) "Christ our Lord is risen," by Dr. H. Mills, 1856, p. 322.
ii. Es geht daher des Tages Schein. Morning. 1531 as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 318, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 455. The translations in common use are:—
1. The Light of Day again we see. In full, by H. J. Buckoll in his Hymns from German, 1842, p. 14. His translations of stanzas iii., iv., vi., vii., beginning “Great God, eternal Lord of Heaven," were included in the Rugby School Hymn Book, 1843.
2. Once more the daylight shines abroad. This is a full and very good translation by Miss Winkworth, in her Lyra Germanica, 2nd Ser., 1858, p. 69, and her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 18. Repeated in Thring's Collection, 1880-82.
iii. Gelobt sei Gott im höchsten Thron. Easter. 1531 as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 265, in 20 stanzas of 3 lines, with Alleluia. The translations in common use are: —
1. Praise God upon His heavenly throne. This is a free translation of stanzas 1, 4, 10, 19, 20, by A. T. Russell, as No. 112, in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851.
2. Glory to God upon His throne. By Mrs. H. R. Spaeth, in the Southern Lutheran Service and Hymns for Sunday Schools , Philadelphia, 1883.
iv. Gott sah zu seiner Zeit. Christmas. 1531 as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 244, in 10 stanzas of 9 lines. The translation in common use is:—
When the due Time had taken place. By C. Kinchen, omitting stanza v., as No. 169 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1742 (1849, No. 20). In the ed. of 1886, No. 954 consists of stanza x., beginning “Ah come, Lord Jesus, hear our prayer."
v. Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott. Advent. 1531 as above, and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 230, in 14 stanzas of 4 lines. Included in V. Babst's Gesang-Buch, 1545, and recently as No. 12 in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen , 1851. In the larger edition of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1886, it is marked as a translation from a Bohemian hymn, beginning "Cirkev Kristova Boha chval." The translations are:—
1. Praise be to that Almighty God. By J. Gambold, omitting stanza xi.-xiii., as No, 246, in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. In the 1789 and later eds. (1886, No. 31), it begins “To God we render thanks and praise."
2. O come, th' Almighty's praise declare. By A. T. Russell, of stanzas i.-iii., v., as No. 26 in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851.
vi. O Herre Jesu Christ, der du erschienen bistanza. For Children. On Christ's Example in His early years on earth . 1531 as above, and in Wackernagel, iii. p. 326, in 7 stanzas of 7 lines. The first three stanzas are translated as “Christ Jesus, Lord most dear," in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, pt. i., No. 278. The form in common use is that in Knapp's Evangelischer Lieder-Schatz , 1837, No. 2951, which begins "Nun hilf uns, o Herr Jesu Christ," and is in 3 stanzas of 4 lines, entirely recast. This is translated as:—
Lord Jesus Christ, we come to Thee . In full from Knapp, by Miss Winkworth, in her Chorale Book for England , 1863, No. 179.
Hymns not in English common use:—
vii. Den Vater dort oben. Grace after Meat. 1531, and thence in Wackernagel, iii., p. 321, in 5 stanzas of 7 lines. In the Berlin Geistliche Lieder, ed. 1863, No. 1136. Translated as, "Father, Lord of mercy," by J. V. Jacobi, 1122, p. 117. In his edition, 1732, p. 183, slightly altered, and thence in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, pt. i., No. 290.
viii. Die Sonne wird mit ihrem Schein. Evening. 1531, and thence in Wackernagel, iii., p. 323, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. In the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 517. Translated as, "Soon from our wishful eyes awhile," by H. J. Buckoll, 1842.
ix. Komm, heiliger Geist, wahrer Gott. Whitsuntide . 1531, and in Wackernagel , iii., p. 282, in 9 stanzas of 5 lines From the Bohemian as noted at p. 157, and partly suggested by the "Veni Sancte Spiritus reple " (q.v.). The translations are: (1) “Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God indeed." This is No. 285 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. (2) "Thou great Teacher, Who instructest." This is a translation of stanza vii., as No. 234 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1801 (1849, No. 267).
x. Lob und Ehr mit stettem Dankopfer. The Creation: Septuagesima . 1531, and in Wackernagel, iii., p. 287, in 5 stanzas of 16 lines. Translated as, “Praise, glory, thanks, be ever paid," by Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 137.
xi. 0 Jesu Christ, der Heiden Licht. Epiphany. 1531, and in Wackernagel , iii. p. 248, in 2 stanzas of 14 lines. Translated as, "0 Jesus Christ, the Gentiles' Light." This is No. 253 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. In the Brüder Gesang-Buch, 1778, No. 1467, stanza ii. was rewritten. This form begins, "Erscheine alien Auserwahlten," and is in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. Translated as, "Lord, to Thy chosen ones appear," by Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 139.
xii. Singet lieben Leut. Redemption by Christ. 1531, and in Wackernagel, iii. p. 243, in 16 stanzas of 4 lines. Translated as, "Sing, be glad, ye happy sheep." This is a translation of stanza xiv., by C. G. Clemens, as No. 299 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789. In the 1801 and later editions (1849, No. 403) it begins, "O rejoice, Christ's happy sheep." [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
-- Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)