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Hymn Writers

Other Silesians distinguished themselves both as secular and sacred poets: among them were Buchner, professor of poetry at Wittenberg, who was the most intimate friend of Opitz; Andreas Tscherning, a professor at Rostock, who wrote a little book of sacred poems called "The Spring-time of German Poetry," which had a very wide circulation in its own day; and David von Schweinitz, an upright, God-fearing statesman, whose "Spiritual Harp of the Heart" was also very popular. But from these minor poets, we must turn to the great hymn-writers of this period. In general their hymns have a more reflective tone than those of the Reformation: they are never doctrinal, but always experimental or devotional; more tender than the earlier hymns, they are not as yet deteriorated by exaggerated sentiment or self-introspection; they are simple, sweet, fervent expressions of trust in God's goodness and self-surrender to Him. Some of them breathe the very spirit of Christian courage, as that famous battle-song of Gustavus Adolphus,--

"Fear not, O little flock, the foe,"--

which was long attributed to Altenburg, a pastor in Thuringia; recent researches, however seem to 181 have made it clear that he only composed the chorale, and that the hymn itself was written down roughly by Gustavus Adolphus after his victory at Leipsic, and reduced to regular verse by his chaplain, Dr. Fabricius, for the use of the army. Such again are the hymns of Apelles von Löwenstern, the saddler who rose to be a noble, a statesman, a poet, and a musician; and such especially is the hymn which has become the popular "Te Deum" of Germany, and is always chosen on any great public occasion to express the united gratitude and praise of the people.

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