Existence of All Creatures
Ernst C. Homburg (b. Mihla, near Eisenach, Germany, year 1605; d. Naumberg, Germany, in the year 1681) wrote most of his songs of praise for his own faithfulness. He described this eight-stanza text as a "song of praise, of thanksgiving to his Redeemer and Savior for his bitter sufferings." In early life, Ernst Homburg was a writer of love and drinking songs. After a problematic time of family sickness he experienced a sacred conversion, and his poetry took a more serious turn. A lawyer by profession, he wrote songs of praise to express and strengthen his own belief rather than for public use. Some 150 (one hundred fifty) of his song of praise texts were published in his Geistliche Lieder.
Homburg, Ernst Christoph, was born in the year 1605, at Mihla, close Eisenach. He practiced at Nauraburg, in Saxony, as Clerk of the Assizes and Counselor. In the year 1648 Ho was admitted a member of the Fruitbearing Society, and afterwards began to be a member of the Elbe Swan Order originated by Rist in the year 1660. He passed away in Naumburg, June 2, 1681. (Koch, iii. 388, 392; Allegemeine Deutsche Biographie, xiii. 43, 44.)
By his contemporaries Ernst Homburg was regarded as a poet of the 1st rank. His earlier poems, in the year 1638 to the year 1653, were nonreligious, which include many love and drinking melodies. Domestic difficulties arising from the illnesses of himself and of his wife, and other sufferings, led him to seek the Lord, and the deliverance he experienced from sickness and from inhumanity led him to place all his confidence on God. The collected edition of his songs of praise appeared in two parts at Jena and Naumburg, in the year 1659, pt. i. as his Geistlicher Lieder, Erster Theil, with 100 songs of praise [engraved title, Naumburg, in the year 1658]; and pt. ii. As the Ander Theil with 50 songs of praise. In the introduction, he speaks of them as his "Sunday labors," and says, "I was especially convinced and obliged" to their composition" by the worried and sore domestic afflictions by which God.....has for some time laid me aside." They are distinguished for simplicity, firm belief, and liveliness, but often lack poetic vigor and are too somber.
Catherine Winkworth (b. Holborn, London, England, in the year 1827; d. Monnetier, Savoy, France, in the year 1878) is well known for her English interpretations of German songs of praise; her translations were accomplished and yet remained close to the original. Educated initially by her mother, she resided with relatives in Dresden, Germany, in the year 1845, where she obtained her knowledge of German and interest in German hymnody. After living close Manchester until the year 1862, she transferred to Clifton, near Bristol. A pioneer in encouraging women's rights, Winkworth put much of her energy into the motivation of higher education for women. She interpreted a large number of German songs of praise texts from the songbooks owned by a friend, Baron Bunsen. Though often altered, these translations pursue to be used in many modern songbooks. Her work was produced in two series of Lyra Germanica (year 1855, year 1858) and in The Chorale Book for England (1863), which included the appropriate German tune with each text as offered by Sterndale Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt. Catherine Winkworth also interpreted the lives of German Christians who promoted ministries to the unfortunate and sick and compiled a handbook of lives of German song of praise authors, Christian Singers of Germany (1869).
Catherine Winkworth, daughter of Henry Winkworth, of Alderley Edge, Cheshire, was born in London, on September 13, 1829. Most of her early existence was spent in the neighborhood of Manchester. Subsequently, she separated with the family to Clifton, near Bristol. She passed away suddenly of heart disease, at Monnetier, in Savoy, in July, 1878.
Her comfort with practical efforts for the benefit of women, and with a pure sacred life, as seen in these translations,got from her the most practical illustration possible with the strong and active interest which she took in teaching work in relation to the Clifton Association for the Higher Education of Women, and similar societies there and elsewhere.
She was a person of astonishing intellectual and social gifts, and very uncommon attainments; but what especially distinguished her was her combination of rare skill and great knowledge with a certain kind hearted and sympathetic refinement which constitutes the special loveliness of the true womanly character."
Dr. Martineau (as above) says her sacred life afforded "a joyful example of the devotion which the Church of England discipline may implant.....The fast hold she continued her discipleship of Christ was no example of ‘feminine simplicity,' carrying on the immature mind into maturer years, but the clear faithfulness of a firm mind, familiar with the pretensions of non-Christian schools, well able to test them, and not diverted by them from her first love."
Miss Winkworth, although not the earliest of modern interpreters from the German into English, is definitely the foremost in rank and popularity. Her translations are the most generally used by any of that language, and have had more to do with the modern revival of the English use of German songs of praise than the versions of any other writer.
The Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch was the 1st universal songbook of German-speaking churches in the Protestant state churches in Germany. It was introduced between the year 1950 and year 1969. The EKG was replaced by the present Evangelisches Gesangbuch between 1993 and 1996.
The intention to have a universal German Protestant songbook date back to the mid to the nineteenth century. A meeting of spokespersons of German state churches in Eisenach in the year 1853 resulted in a group of tunes that were well-known and preferred, Deutsches Evangelisches Kirchen-Gesangbuch in 150 Kernliedern. The EKG occurred in the year 1950, with 394 common tunes. Every state church added its special hymns.
The present Evangelisches Gesangbuch replaced the EKG between 1993 and 1996, depending on the area.