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The hymn, "In the midst of life," is one of those founded on a more ancient hymn, the "Media in vita" of Notker, a learned Benedictine of St. Gall, who died in 912. He is said to have composed it while watching some workmen, who were building the bridge of Martinsbruck at the peril of their lives. It was soon set to music, and became universally known; indeed it was used as a battle song, until the custom was forbidden on account of its being supposed to exercise magical influences. In a German version it formed part of the service for the burial of the dead, as early as the thirteenth century, and is still preserved in an unmetrical form in the Burial Service of our own Church.

The carol, "From Heaven above to earth I come," is called by Luther himself, "A Christmas child's song concerning the child Jesus." He wrote it for his little boy Hans, when the latter was five years old, and it is still sung from the dome of the Kreuzkirche in Dresden before day-break on the morning of Christmas Day. It refers to the custom, then and long afterwards prevalent in Germany, of making at Christmas-time representations of the manger with the infant Jesus. But the most famous of his hymns is the noble version of the 46th Psalm, "A sure stronghold our God is He," which may be called the national hymn of his Protestant countrymen. Luther's hymns are wanting in harmony and correctness of metre to a degree which often makes them jarring to our modern ears, but they are always full of fire and strength, of clear Christian faith, and brave joyful trust in God.


From his time there has been a constant succession of hymn writers in the German Church. Paul Eber, an intimate friend of Melancthon, wrote for his children the hymn, "Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God," which soon became a favorite hymn for the dying. Hugo Grotius asked that it might be repeated to him in his last moments, and expired ere its conclusion. Another hymn of the same class is, "Now hush your cries, and shed no tear," the "Jam moesta quiesce querela" of Prudentius II. translated by Nicholas Hermann, the pious precentor of Joachimsthal, a hymn long sung at every festival.

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