1618 - 1677 Author of "Jesus, Priceless Treasure" in The Worshipbook Johann Franck (b. Guben, Brandenburg, Germany, 1618; d. Guben, 1677) was a law student at the University of Köningsberg and practiced law during the Thirty Years' War. He held several positions in civil service, including councillor and mayor of Guben. A significant poet, second only to Paul Gerhardt in his day, Franck wrote some 110 hymns, many of which were published by his friend Johann Crüger in various editions of the Praxis Pietatis melica. All were included in the first part of Franck’s Teutsche Gedichte bestehend im geistliche Sion (1672).
Franck, Johann, son of Johann Franck, advocate and councillor at Guben, Brandenburg, was born at Guben, June 1, 1618. After his father's death, in 1620, his uncle by marriage, the Town Judge, Adam Tielckau, adopted him and sent him for his education to the schools at Guben, Cottbus, Stettin and Thorn. On June 28, 1638, he matriculated as a student of law at the University of Königsberg, the only German university left undisturbed by the Thirty Years' War. Here his religious spirit, his love of nature, and his friendship with such men as Simon Dach and Heinrich Held, preserved him from sharing in the excesses of his fellow students. He returned to Guben at Easter, 1640, at the urgent request of his mother, who wished to have him near her in those times of war during which Guben frequently suffered from the presence of both Swedish and Saxon troops. After his return from Prague, May, 1645, he commenced practice as a lawyer. In 1648 he became a burgess and councillor, in 1661 burgomaster, and in 1671 was appointed the deputy from Guben to the Landtag (Diet) of Lower Lusatia. He died at Guben, June 18, 1677; and on the bicentenary of his death, June 18, 1877, a monumental tablet to his memory was affixed to the outer wall of the Stadtkirche at Guben (Koch, iii. 378-385; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vii. 211-212; the two works by Dr. Hugo Jentsch of Guben, Johann Franck, 1877, and Die Abfassungszeit der geistlichen Lieder Johann Franck's, 1876).
Of Franck's secular poems those before 1649 are much the best; his later productions becoming more and more affected and artificial, long-winded and full of classical allusions, and much inferior to those of Dach or Opitz. As a hymn writer he holds a high rank and is distinguished for unfeigned and firm faith, deep earnestness, finished form, and noble, pithy, simplicity of expression. In his hymns we miss the objectivity and congregational character of the older German hymns, and notice a more personal, individual tone; especially the longing for the inward and mystical union of Christ with the soul as in his "Jesus, meine Freude." He stands in close relationship with Gerhardt, sometimes more soaring and occasionally more profound, but neither on the whole so natural nor so suited for popular comprehension or Church use.
His hymns appeared mostly in the works of his friends Weichmann, Crüger and Peter. They were collected in his Geistliches Sion, Guben, 1674, to the number of 110; and of these the 57 hymns (the other 53 being psalm versions of no great merit) were reprinted with a biographical preface by Dr. J. L. Pasig as Johann Franck's Geistliche Lieder, Grimma, 1846. Two of those translated into English are from the Latin of J. Campanus (q. v.). Four other hymns are annotated under their own first lines:—"Brunquell aller Güter"; "Dreieinigkeit der Gottheit wahrer Spiegel"; "Jesu, meine Freude"; "Schmücke dich, o liebe Secle." The rest are:—
i. Hymns in English common use: --
i. Erweitert eure Pforten . [Advent]. Founded on Psalm xxiv. 7-10. First published in C. Peter's Andachts-Zymbeln, Freiberg, 1655, p. 25, in 7 stanzas of 8 lines; repeated 1674, p. 3, and 1846, p. 3, as above. Included in the 1688 and later editions of Crüger's Praxis pietatis, in Bollhagen's Gesang-Buch, 1736, &c.
The only translation in common use is:—-
Unfold your gates and open, a translation of st. 1, 3, 6, by A. T. Russell, as No. 30 in his Hymns & Psalms, 1851; repeated altered as No. 30 in Kennedy, 1863, and thus as No. 102 in Holy Song, 1869.
ii. Herr Gott dich loben wir, Regier. Thanksgiving for Peace. Evidently written as a thanksgiving for the conclusion of the Thirty Years' War, by the Peace of Westphalia, Oct. 24, 1648. First published in the Crüger-Runge Gesang-Buch, Berlin, 1653, No. 306, in 9 st. of 8 l., as the first of the "Hymns of Thanksgiving for Peace attained"; and repeated 1674, p. 182, and 1846, p. 77, as above. Included in Crüger's Praxis, 1653, and many later collections, and, as No. 591, in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851. The only translation in common use is:—
Lord God, we worship Thee, a very good version of st. 2, 3, 6, 8, by Miss Winkworth in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 183. Repeated in full in the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, 1871; the Hymnary, 1872; the Psalmist, 1878; and in America in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868. In the American Protestant Episcopal Collection, 1871; the Hymns & Songs of Praise, N. Y. 1874; and the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880, the translation of stanza 8 is omitted.
iii. Herr ich habe missgehandelt. Lent. Of this fine hymn of penitence stanza i. appeared as No. 19 in Cruger's Geistliche Kirchenmelodien , Leipzig, 1649. The full form in 8 stanzas of 6 lines is No. 41 in the Crüger-Runge Gesang-Buch, Berlin, 1653, entitled "For the forgiveness of sins," repeated 1674, p. 39, and 1846, p. 37, as above. Included in Crüger's Praxis, 1653, and others, and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851. The only translation in common use is:—
Lord, to Thee I make confession, a very good translation, omitting st. 4, 5, 6, by Miss Winkworth in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 44, repeated in the Appendix to the Hymnal for St. John's, Aberdeen, 1865-1870; and in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Ch. Book, 1868; Evangelical Hymnal, N. Y., 1880; Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880. Another translation is: "Lord, how oft I have offended," by N. L. Frothingham, 1870, p. 177.
iv. Herr Jesu, Licht der Heiden. Presentation in the Temple. Founded on the account in St. Luke ii., and probably the finest hymn on the subject. Dr. Jentsch, 1876, p. 9, thinks it was written before Dec. 8, 1669, as C. Peter, who died then, left a melody for it. We have not found the full text earlier than 1674, as above, p. 10, in 6 stanzas of 8 lines, entitled "On the Festival of the Purification of Mary" (1846, p. 10). Included in the 1688 and later editions of Crüger's Praxis, and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 197. The translations in common use are:—
1. Light of the Gentile world , a translation, omitting st. 6, by Miss Winkworth in the first service of her Lyra Germanica, 1855, p. 193 (ed. 1876, p. 195), and thence as No. 147 in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Hymn Book, 1865. This version is in S.M. Double.
2. Light of the Gentile Nations, a good translation, omitting st. 6, by Miss Winkworth in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 80. Repeated in Dr. Thomas's Augustine Hymn Book, 1866, and in America in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868, and the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880.
ii. Hymns not in English common use:
v. Du geballtes Weltgebäude. Christ above all earthly things. Stanza i. in Cruger's Kirchenmelodien, 1649, No. 116. The full text (beginning "Du o schönes) is No. 239 in the Crüger-Runge Gesang-Buch, 1653, in 8 stanzas, entitled "Longing after Eternal Life." Repeated, 1674, p. 194, and 1846, p. 60, as above. The translations are: (1) "Let who will in thee rejoice," by Miss Winkworth, 1855, p. 180 (1876, p. 182). (2) "O beautiful abode of earth," by Miss Warner, 1858 (1861, p. 233). (3) "Thou, O fair Creation-building," by N. L. Frothingham, 1870, p. 232.
vi. Unsre müden Augenlieder. Evening. Probably written while a student at Königsberg. First published in J. Weichmann's Sorgen-lägerin, Königsberg, 1648, Pt. iii., No. 4, in 7 st.; repeated 1674, p. 213, and 1846, p. 91, as above. The only translation is by H. J. Buckoll, 1842, p. 79, beginning with st. vi., "Ever, Lord, on Thee relying." [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)