Praetorius Biography in Production

Finalized cover design for Heaven Is My Fatherland

n April 21 the typesetting for Heaven Is My Fatherland: The Life and Work of Michael Praetorius was completed. Today the cover design was completed. The book is currently in production and, God willing, within a month will be available for purchase in hardcover, softcover, and ebook formats.

Special thanks go to Dr. Margaret Boudreaux, Sara Schneider, and Dr. Kermit Moldenhauer for their gracious endorsements.

To stay abreast of exact publication dates and to receive other Praetorius-related updates and resources, please visit, Like, and Follow the book’s Facebook page.

To God alone be the glory!

Luther on Family Communion

Martin Luther’s Letter to Wolfgang Brauer, Pastor of Jessen1

race and peace in Christ!

Esteemed, dear Mr. Parson! In response to the question that your good friend in Linz2, Sigmund Hangreuter3, posed to you by letter and desired that you would pass along to me, this is my answer: You should inform the good gentleman and friend that he is under no obligation to adopt such a practice—of communing himself and his household—and that it’s also pointless to do so, since he is neither called nor commanded to do so. Besides, if the tyrannical church ministers, who actually do have an obligation to do it, won’t administer it to him or his family, he can still be saved in his faith through the Word. It would also cause a lot of sinful confusion [ein groß Ärgernis] if the Sacrament were administered like that in this home here and that home there. For sure in the long term there would be no good outcome and it would cause nothing but division and sects—seeing as people are just strange right now and the devil is a madman.

The early Christians in Acts did not separately use the Sacrament like that in homes; they gathered together for it. And even if they had done so, that example would still not be tolerable any longer now, just as it is not tolerable now for us to let all our possessions be communal property, as they did back then. For now the gospel has spread publicly, along with the sacraments. But a head of household teaching his family the Word of God is right and should take place, since God has commanded us to teach and train our children and household, and the Word is entrusted to each father [e.g. Deut 11:19; Ps 78:4–7; Eph 6:4]. But the Sacrament is a public confession and should have public, called ministers, since what Christ says applies there—that it should be done in remembrance of him [1 Cor 11:24,25], that is, as St. Paul says, it should proclaim or preach the Lord’s death until he comes [1 Cor 11:26]. And he also says there that people should come together, and he harshly rebukes those who wanted to use the Lord’s Supper specially, each one for himself [1 Cor 11:33–34]. So too, though each separate head of household is not forbidden but commanded to teach his household with God’s Word, and that includes himself too, yet no one can baptize himself, etc. For a public office in the church and a head of household with his family members are two very different things, so that they should not be confused with each other, nor divorced from each other. Now since no necessity or proper call is involved here, nothing should be undertaken on one’s own initiative, without God’s specific command, for nothing good will come of it.

You may give this, my dear Mr. Parson, as an answer on my behalf. With that, I entrust you to God. Amen.

St. David’s Day, 15364
Mart. Luther

Endnotes

1 Jessen is about seventeen miles east of Wittenberg.

2 According to Enders, this name refers to the village at 51°20’32.3″N 13°44’00.9″E, about twenty miles north of Dresden. The WA editor calls this identification into question, since the district in which the village lay did not adopt the Reformation until the fall of 1539. But that fact actually fits the context of this letter quite well.

3 Variants in other copies of this letter are: Bangruter, Bangreiter, Gangreiter.

4 All the sources in which I found this letter date it Dec. 30, even though the date of the Feast of David, king and prophet of Israel, is always given as Dec. 29. (Anyone who can solve this mystery for me, please comment below.) Even though Luther wrote 1536, festivals on Christmas and following were often dated with the following calendar year, so this was probably written in 1535.

Sources

Weimarer Ausgabe Briefwechsel 7:338–39 (no. 2281)

St. Louis Edition 10:2224–27

Note

This letter is cited in, among other sources, C. F. W. Walther, Amerikanisch-Lutherische Pastoraltheologie (St. Louis: Concordia, 1906), 175 (Anmerkung 4), and John F. Brug, The Ministry of the Word (Milwaukee: Northwestern, 2009), 307.

Praetorius Biography Update

Michael Praetorius Creutzbergensis, 1606, back side of the title page for a special edition of the first four installments of Praetorius’ Musae Sioniae (1607).

The reason I haven’t published any translations on this site in almost a year is that the vast majority of my translating work has gone into two projects, including a biography of Michael Praetorius (1571–1621). I submitted my final manuscript to Wipf and Stock Publishers on February 3—hopefully in time to be published in connection with the 400th anniversary of his death (February) and 450th anniversary of his birth (September) in 2021.

Titled Heaven Is My Fatherland: The Life and Work of Michael Praetorius, the Table of Contents will, God willing, read as follows:

  • List of Illustrations
  • Translator’s Preface
    • The Anniversary
    • Why Did I Undertake This Project?
    • Notes on the Translation
    • Assessment of Praetorius
  • Original Acknowledgments
  • Translator’s Acknowledgments
  • Annotated Abbreviations
  • Original Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Childhood and Youth
    • The Father, Michael Schulteis
    • Schooling in Torgau and Zerbst
    • Studies in Frankfurt an der Oder and Helmstedt
  • Chapter 2: At the Courts of Gröningen and Wolfenbüttel
    • Heinrich Julius (1564–1613), Bishop of Halberstadt and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
    • Michael Praetorius as Chamber Organist and Organ Specialist
  • Chapter 3: Marriage and Children
  • Chapter 4: Court Music Director and Composer
    • The Duties and Rights of the Court Music Director
    • Musae Sioniae (The Muses of Zion)
    • Musae Aoniae (The Muses of Aonia)
    • The Syntagma Musicum: A Compendium of the Musical Knowledge of the Time
    • Michael Praetorius and Prague
  • Chapter 5: Nonresident Music Director at the Electoral Court in Dresden and Musical Consultant at Other Princely Courts
    • The Polyhymniae
    • “Swan Song” and Death
  • Chapter 6: Postscript
    • The Bequest (Will)
    • The Memorial Slab
    • Estate
    • Praetorius’ Tracks in 400 Years of Music History
    • Praetorius in the Assessment of Posterity
  • Appendix I: Remarks on Praetorius’ Ancestry
  • Appendix II: Michael Praetorius’ Birthdate
  • Appendix III: Funeral Sermon and Tributes
  • Appendix IV: Translations of Primary Sources by Praetorius
    • A. Preface to MS Coll. (1606)
    • B. Dedicatory Epistle for Installment V of Musae Sioniae (1607)
    • C. Dedicatory Epistle to Duchess Elisabeth for the Reprint of Andreas Praetorius’ ΒΡΑΒΕΙΟΝ (1608)
    • D. Dedicatory Epistle for Volume I, Part 2 of the Syntagma Musicum (1615)
    • E. Prayers from the Pol. Cad. Part Books
  • Appendix V: Eyewitness Account of the 1614 Princes’ Convention in Naumburg
  • Appendix VI: Excerpts from Grossman’s Angst der Hellen und Friede der Seelen
  • Major Corrections and Improvements
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • About the Author
  • About the Translator
  • Index

You can follow this book on Facebook here. More on my other project another time.

Biographies in the Works

Detail of the Ducal Castle in Wolfenbüttel from an engraving by Matthäus Merian the Elder, published in 1654

Michael Praetorius Biography

On March 5, I signed a contract with Wipf and Stock Publishers out of Oregon to publish an edited translation of Siegfried Vogelsänger’s 2008 biography of the confessional Lutheran composer Michael Praetorius (1571-1621).

I originally made overly ambitious plans to translate Wilibald Gurlitt’s dissertation on Praetorius. But in the spring of 2018 Winfried Elsner, who collaborated with Vogelsänger and who currently chairs the Michael Praetorius Collegium of Wolfenbüttel, acquainted me with this more concise introduction to the composer and his work and persuaded me to undertake its translation instead. The goal is to have it released in advance of the 400th anniversary of Praetorius’ death in 2021.

God willing, in addition to providing a detailed summary of Praetorius’ life and work, the book will also introduce the reader to Praetorius’ father, employers (especially Duke Heinrich Julius of Brunswick-Lueneburg), wife and children, and other relatives, friends, and acquaintances. It will also include an appendix containing the sermon and graveside remarks Pastor Peter Tuckermann delivered at Praetorius’ funeral—appearing in English in their entirety for the first time. As of this writing, the plan is also to have the book richly illustrated with artwork (both older and more modern) and photographs. Some of the primary source translations I have undertaken and continue to undertake in order to ensure the historical accuracy of the book’s content may also appear on this site in the future; some may also be included in additional appendices to the book.

If you wish to follow the progress of this biography more closely, you can do so here.

Johannes Strieter Autobiography

Many of this site’s readers are primarily interested in my work on the 1904 autobiography of Pastor emeritus Johannes Strieter (1829-1920).

The work on the autobiography itself is basically finished. The delay in getting the manuscript submitted and published is mostly due to the discovery of a slew of correspondence from the mid-1850s to mid-1860s in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s Presidential Papers, some of it penned by Strieter himself. The pertinent letters in this correspondence tell two stories related to Strieter’s time in Wisconsin:

  1. The multifaceted and interesting story of the founding of Lutheran congregations in Marquette and Green Lake Counties, Wisconsin, without which Strieter would not have been called to Wisconsin in the first place, and thus also would not have played a significant role in the founding of many other Lutheran congregations elsewhere in Wisconsin through his mission trips, and
  2. The story of the conflict between Pastor Strieter and Pastor J. J. Kern, which is tied to #1.

I want to include translations of this correspondence, as well as other primary source material (church record information, Der Lutheraner articles and announcements, newspaper articles, etc.), together with this autobiography, since it both helps to put the details of the autobiography in their proper context and comprises an important and previously little-known chapter of the history of the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods. However, it is not only taking a long time to complete due to the large number of letters available (I am approaching the halfway mark), but the appendices are quickly approaching and surpassing the autobiography itself in size.

The serial I am currently writing for the WELS Historical Institute Journal (see Published) is thankfully providing the impetus I need to continue trudging my way through, and organizing, these primary sources. Once I am finally finished, I am considering the possibility of submitting this material as two separate manuscripts for companion volumes—the first being the autobiography itself, the second the supplementary primary source material. Eventually this project will, God willing, have its own Facebook page too, but for now, if you want to make sure you don’t miss important updates on it, please revisit the information here, especially the parts in bold.

Thanks for continuing to follow Red Brick Parsonage, and the triune God bless you all.

Sacred Concertos and Songs by Schütz

Christoph Spätner, Heinrich Schütz, c. 1660

Preliminary Acknowledgment

These fourteen pieces by the confessional Lutheran composer Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) were recently performed by Ensemble VIII. I was graciously given the opportunity to work with these lyrics in connection with this concert, for which I hereby express my deepest gratitude to the ensemble’s board of directors. I also wish to acknowledge the lovely performances by the ensemble’s singers and instrumentalist. The texts and translations below follow the order in which they were presented in the concert, under the headings Love, Lament, Deception, and Desire.

As usually happens with work like this, not only was my love for my Savior Jesus strengthened, but I grew in my ability to express it with greater breadth, profundity, and consonance with my Christian forebears. My prayer is that readers of this post will experience the same benefit.

SWV 308 – O Jesu, nomen dulce

Foreword

This text of unknown authorship was adapted from Bernard of Clairvaux’s sermon series on Solomon’s Song of Songs, especially Sermon 15 (c. 1137 AD) on the name of Jesus: “But the name of Jesus is not just light; it is also food. Or are you not fortified precisely as often as you recall it? What equivalent can so enrich the mind of the one who contemplates it? … Whatever you write will not taste good to me unless I find Jesus there. Whatever you discuss or bring up will not taste good to me unless I hear the sound of Jesus there. Jesus is honey in my mouth, in my ears a song, in my heart a cry of joy” (J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina 183:846,847; translation mine).

Published: Kleine Geistliche Konzerte II (Leipzig, 1639)

O Jesu, nomen dulce,
nomen admirabile,
nomen confortans.
Quid enim canitur suavius
quid auditur jucundius
quid cogitatur dulcius
quam Jesus, Dei filius?
O nomen Jesu,
verus animae cibus,
in ore mel,
in aure melos,
in corde laetitia mea.
Tuum itaque nomen, dulcissime Jesu,
in aeternum in ore meo portabo.

O Jesus, sweet name,
wonderful name,
fortifying name!
For what is more pleasant to sing about,
what is more agreeable to listen to,
what is sweeter to contemplate
than Jesus, God’s Son?
O name of Jesus,
true food for the soul,
honey in my mouth,
a song in my ears,
my happiness in my heart!
And thus your name, sweetest Jesus,
I will carry in my mouth into eternity.

SWV 284 – Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herzen

Foreword

Even though this text closely follows Martin Luther’s translation of Psalm 111, what sets Schütz’s corpus of biblical settings apart is his familiarity with the original Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures. It infuses his compositions with a fresh spirit of originality and personal intimacy. Schütz once advised his student Matthias Weckmann “to get acquainted with the Hebrew language, not as though it were necessary, but because it would come in handy when setting an Old Testament text to music” (Johann Mattheson, Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte [Hamburg, 1740], pp. 395-396; translation mine).

Published: Erster Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten (Leipzig, 1636)

Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herzen
im Rath der Frommen und in der Gemeine.
Groß sind die Werke des Herren;
wer ihr achtet,
der hat eitel Lust dran.
Was er ordnet, das ist löblich und herrlich,
und seine Gerechtigkeit währet ewiglich.
Er hat ein Gedächtnis gestiftet seiner Wunder,
der gnädige und barmherzige Herr.
Er gibt Speise denen, so ihn fürchten;
er gedenket ewiglich an seinen Bund.
Er läßt verkündigen seine gewaltige Thaten
seinem Volk,
daß er ihnen gebe das Erbe der Heiden.
Die Werk seiner Hände sind Wahrheit und Recht;
alle seine Gebot sind rechtschaffen,
sie werden erhalten immer und ewiglich
und geschehen treulich und redlich.
Er sendet ein Erlösung seinem Volk;
er verheißt, daß sein Bund ewiglich bleiben soll.
Heilig und hehr ist sein Name.
Die Furcht des Herren ist der Weisheit Anfang,
das ist eine feine Klugheit;
wer darnach thut, des Lob bleibet ewiglich.

I give thanks to the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the pious and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
whoever considers them
finds nothing but pleasure in them.
What he ordains is laudable and glorious,
and his righteousness endures eternally.
He has erected a monument with his wonders,
the gracious and merciful Lord.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant eternally.
He causes his mighty deeds to be proclaimed
to his people,
that he may give them the inheritance of the heathens.
The works of his hands are truth and justice.
All his decrees are just;
they are upheld for ever and ever
and are carried out faithfully and fairly.
He is sending a redemption to his people;
he promises that his covenant shall endure forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom—
this is an excellent insight;
whoever follows it, his fame will endure forever.

SWV 330 – Wer will uns scheiden von der Liebe Gottes

Foreword

This text follows Martin Luther’s translation of Romans 8:35,38-39.

Wer will uns scheiden von der Liebe Gottes,
Trübsal oder Angst, oder Verfolgung,
oder Hunger, oder Blöße,
oder Gefährlichkeit, oder Schwerdt?
Denn ich bin gewiss, daß weder Tod noch Leben,
weder Engel noch Fürstenthum noch Gewalt,
weder Gegenwärtiges noch Zukünftiges,
weder Hohes noch Tiefes noch kein andre Creatur
mag uns scheiden von der Liebe Gottes,
die in Christo Jesu ist, unserm Herren. Amen.

Who will separate us from the love of God—
tribulation or anxiety, or persecution,
or hunger, or nakedness,
or danger, or sword?
For I am certain that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor principalities nor powers,
neither things present nor things to come,
neither things high nor deep nor any other creature
may separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

SWV 56 (Prima pars) – Quid commisisti, O dulcissime puer
SWV 57 (Secunda pars) – Ego sum tui plaga doloris
SWV 58 (Tertia pars) – Ego enim inique egi

Foreword

Schütz gleaned these three texts from a devotional work edited by the staunch Lutheran doctor of theology Andreas Musculus (1514-1581). Titled Precationes (Prayers), Musculus compiled the work “from the ancient orthodox teachers, from the hymns and songs of the Church, and finally from the Psalms of David,” and organized it topically. The prayer on which these motets are based is found in the sixth section. Musculus culled several of the prayers in this section from meditations on the suffering of Christ that are reminiscent of Isaiah 53:4-6 and were alleged to have been written by Augustine (354-430; cf. Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina 40:905-906). Subsequent scholarship, however, has demonstrated that this attribution is false and more likely belongs to Jean de Fécamp (d. 1078). These meditations were very popular at the time; just five years after Schütz published his Cantiones Sacrae, Johann Heermann published his still-beloved hymn, “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” (“O Dearest Jesus, what law have you broken”), based on the exact same text as these motets.

Schütz did some minor editing in this three-part motet. For example, in reference to the eighth line in the third part, de Fécamp and Musculus originally had equuleum or eculeum, a wooden torture-rack for criminals in the shape of a horse, as a metaphor for Christ’s cross. But at least one subsequent edition, including the one in Schütz’s possession, printed aculeum, “sting.” (Compare, e.g., col. 906 in the Patrologia Latina link in the previous paragraph and fol. 48 verso in this 1561 edition with p. 88 in the 1573 edition also linked in the previous paragraph.) So Schütz filled out the expression – mortis aculeum, “sting of death” – with an allusion to 1 Corinthians 15:55,56.

The references to Jesus as a boy or young man are used a) as synonyms for “Son” (in relation to God the Father), b) to underscore his relative youth (he was crucified in his 30s), and c) to underscore his innocence.

Published: Cantiones sacrae (Freiberg, 1625)
Sample Performance

Quid commisisti, O dulcissime puer,
ut sic judicareris?
quid commisisti, O amantissime juvenis,
ut adeo tractareris?
Quod scelus tuum,
quae noxa tua,
quae causa mortis,
quae occasio tuae damnationis?

What wrong did you commit, O sweetest Boy,
that you would be sentenced thus?
What did you commit, O kindest Young Man,
that you would be so badly treated?
What is your crime,
what is your offense,
what is the cause of your death,
what is the basis for your condemnation?

Ego sum tui plaga doloris,
tuae culpa occisionis.
Ego tuae mortis meritum,
tuae vindictae flagitium.
Ego tuae passionis livor,
cruciatus tui labor.

I am the blow of your pain,
the fault of your murder.
I am the merit of your death,
the shame of your punishment.
I am the injury of your suffering,
the agony of your torment.

Ego enim inique egi,
tu poena mulctaris.
Ego facinus admisi,
tu ultione plecteris.
Ego superbivi, tu humiliaris.
Ego tumui, tu attenuaris.
Ego praesumpsi vetitum,
tu mortis subiisti aculeum.
Ego pomi dulcedinem,
tu fellis gustasti amaritudinem.

For I acted unjustly;
you are beaten in punishment.
I am responsible for the deed;
you are struck in retribution.
I was haughty; you are humbled.
I was swollen with pride; you are deflated.
I dared to do the forbidden;
you submitted to the sting of death.
I tasted the sweetness of the fruit;
you the bitterness of the gall.

SWV 282 – Eile mich, Gott, zu erretten

Foreword

This text follows Martin Luther’s translation of Psalm 70.

Published: Erster Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten (Leipzig, 1636)

Eile mich, Gott, zu erretten,
Herr, mir zu helfen.
Es müssen sich schämen und zu Schanden werden,
die nach meiner Seelen stehen.
Sie müssen zurücke kehren und gehöhnet werden,
die mir Übels wünschen,
daß sie müssen wiederum zu Schanden werden,
die da über mich schreien: Da, da.
Freuen und fröhlich müssen sein in dir,
die nach dir fragen und dein Heil lieben,
immer sagen: Hoch gelobt sei Gott.
Ich aber bin elend und arm.
Gott, eile zu mir,
denn du bist mein Helfer und Erretter;
mein Gott, verzeuch nicht.

Hasten, God, to deliver me,
Lord, to help me!
Those must be put to shame and disgraced
who make attempts on my soul.
They must turn back and be ridiculed,
those who wish evil on me,
so that they must be disgraced as a result,
those who cry out over me, “Ha, ha!”
They must rejoice and be glad in you
who seek after you and love your salvation,
always saying, “God be highly praised!”
But I am wretched and poor.
God, hasten to me,
for you are my helper and deliverer;
my God, do not delay!

SWV 307 – Was hast du verwirket

Foreword

This German text has the same basis as SWV 56 & 57 above. See the Foreword there for more information. It is noteworthy that, even though Musculus produced his own German translation of his Latin prayer book, Schütz did not make use of Musculus’ translation or of Martin Moller’s translation, but appears to have produced his own from the Latin. Here Schütz imaginatively reinterprets “the shame of your punishment” from the Latin as “the condemnable vice that could be smelled on you.” He also concludes by taking an additional rhetorical question from his source that he did not employ in the earlier pieces: “Quo nate Dei, quo tua descendit humilitas?” “Ah, how far, O Son of God…?”

Source: Kleine Geistliche Konzerte II (Leipzig, 1639)

Was hast du verwirket,
O du allerholdseligster Knab, Jesu Christe,
daß du also verurtheilt warest?
Was hast du begangen,
O du allerfreundlichster Jüngling,
daß man so übel und kläglich mit dir gehandelt?
Was ist doch dein Verbrechen und Misshandlung?
Was ist deine Schuld,
was ist die Ursach deines Todes?
Was ist doch die Verwirkung deiner Verdammniß?
O, ich bin die Ursach und Plage deines Leidens,
ich bin die Verschuldung deines Hinrichtens,
ich bin das Verdienst deines Todes,
das todwürdige Laster,
so an dir gerochen worden.
Ich bin die Öffnung der Wunden deines Leidens,
die Angst deiner Peinigung.
Ach, wohin, du Sohn Gottes,
hat sich deine Demuth geniedriget?

What did you perpetrate,
O you absolute most charming boy, Jesus Christ,
that you would be sentenced thus?
What wrong did you commit,
O you absolute kindest young man,
for them to have dealt so cruelly and deplorably with you?
Just what is your crime and misdeed?
What is your offense,
what is the cause of your death?
Just what is the basis for your condemnation?
Oh, I am the cause and misery of your suffering,
I am the fault of your execution,
I am the merit of your death,
the condemnable vice
that could be smelled on you.
I am the opening of the wounds of your suffering,
the agony of your torment.
Ah, how far, O Son of God,
has your humility lowered itself?

SWV 309 – O misericordissime Jesu

Foreword

Schütz appears to have patched this text together. It contains excerpts from two different prayers (here and here) by Pseudo-Augustine in the eighth section of Musculus’ compilation of prayers (one perhaps traces back to the aforementioned de Fécamp, the other perhaps to Anselm of Canterbury, d. 1109). There are also phrases found in Melchior Franck’s three-part motet “O bone Jesu” (1604), which in turn borrows from Chapter 25 of Bonaventure’s Vitis Mystica (The Mystical Vine), among other sources. (In the Patrologia Latina, Vitis Mystica is included with works by Bernard of Clairvaux, but Migne does preface the work by saying that it is not by Bernard.) The thoughts of the text are variously expressed in the Psalms, especially in 25, 31, 37, 86, and 143. The reference to Jesus’ name alludes to Matthew 1:21.

Published: Kleine Geistliche Konzerte II (Leipzig, 1639)

O misericordissime Jesu,
O dulcissime Jesu,
O gratiosissime Jesu,
O Jesu, salus in te sperantium,
O Jesu, salus in te credentium,
O Jesu, salus ad te confugientium,
O Jesu, dulcis remissio omnium peccatorum,
O Jesu, propter nomen sanctum tuum,
salva me, ne peream.
O Jesu, miserere,
dum tempus est miserendi,
neque me damnes
in tempore judicandi.
Si enim admisi,
unde me damnare potes,
tu non amisisti,
unde me salvare potes.
Sis ergo mihi Jesus,
propter hoc nomen tuum,
et miserere mei,
fac mihi secundum hoc nomen tuum.
Respice me miserum
invocantem hoc nomen amabile tuum: Jesus.

O most merciful Jesus,
O sweetest Jesus,
O most gracious Jesus,
O Jesus, salvation of those who hope in you,
O Jesus, salvation of those who trust in you,
O Jesus, salvation of those who take refuge in you,
O Jesus, sweet remission of all sins,
O Jesus, for the sake of your holy name
save me, lest I perish.
O Jesus, have mercy,
while there is still time to show mercy,
and do not condemn me
when it comes time to judge.
For if I am guilty,
which is why you are able to condemn me,
you have pardoned,
which is why you are able to save me.
May you therefore be for me a Jesus,
for the sake of this your name,
and have mercy on me;
deal with me according to this your name.
Take note of me, wretch that I am,
as I invoke this your lovely name: Jesus.

SWV 310 – Ich liege und schlafe

Foreword

This text follows Martin Luther’s translation of Psalm 3:5-8.

Published: Kleine Geistliche Konzerte II (Leipzig, 1639)

Ich liege und schlafe,
und erwache,
denn der Herr hält mich.
Ich fürchte mich nicht
für viel Hunderttausenden,
die sich umher wider mich legen.
Auf, Herr, und hilf mir, mein Gott,
denn du schlägest alle meine Feinde auf den Backen,
und zerschmetterst der Gottlosen Zähne.
Bei dem Herren findet man Hülfe
und deinen Segen über dein Volk, Sela.

I lie down and sleep,
and awake,
for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid
of the many hundred thousands
who encamp against me all around.
Up, Lord, and help me, my God,
for you strike all my enemies on the cheek
and shatter the teeth of the godless.
With the Lord one finds help
and your blessing upon your people. Selah.

SWV 72 – Quid detur tibi

Foreword

This text follows Jerome’s translation of Psalm 120:3,4 (119:3,4 in the Vulgate).

Published: Cantiones sacrae (Freiberg, 1625)

Quid detur tibi,
aut quid apponatur tibi
ad linguam dolosam?
Sagittae potentis acutae,
cum carbonibus desolatoriis.

What reward should you get,
or what more should be done to you
for a deceiful tongue?
The sharp arrows of a mighty man,
with coals that bring desolation.

SWV 294 – Eins bitte ich vom Herren

Foreword

This text follows Martin Luther’s translation of Psalm 27:4.

Published: Erster Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten (Leipzig, 1636)

Eins bitte ich vom Herren,
das hätte ich gern,
daß ich im Hause des Herrn möge bleiben
mein Lebelang,
zu schauen die schönen Gottesdienst des Herren,
und seinen Tempel zu besuchen.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I would like:
that I may remain in the house of the Lord
my entire life,
to behold the beautiful worship of the Lord
and to frequent his temple.

SWV 285 – O süßer, O freundlicher

Foreword

Schütz took this text from part 2 of Martin Moller’s Meditations of the Holy Fathers (Görlitz, 1591).

Published: Erster Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten (Leipzig, 1636)

O süßer, O freundlicher,
O gütiger Herr Jesu Christe,
wie hoch hast du uns elende Menschen geliebet,
wie theur hast du uns erlöset,
wie lieblich hast du uns getröstet,
wie herrlich hast du uns gemacht,
wie gewaltig hast du uns erhaben.
Mein Heiland, wie erfreuet sich mein Herz,
wenn ich daran gedenke,
denn je mehr ich daran gedenke,
je freundlicher du bist, je lieber ich dich habe.
Mein Erlöser, wie herrlich sind deine Wohlthaten,
die du uns erzeiget hast,
wie groß ist die Herrlichkeit,
die du uns bereitet hast.
O, wie verlanget meiner Seelen nach dir,
wie sehne ich mich mit aller Macht
aus diesem Elende
nach dem himmlischen Vaterland.
Mein Helfer, du hast mir mein Herz genommen
mit deiner Liebe,
daß ich mich ohn Unterlaß nach dir sehne.
Ach, daß ich bald zu dir kommen
und deine Herrlichkeit schauen sollte.

O sweet, O kind,
O gracious Lord Jesus Christ,
how deeply you have loved us miserable humans,
at what great cost you have redeemed us,
how sweetly you have comforted us,
how glorious you have made us to be,
how mightily you have exalted us!
My Savior, how my heart rejoices
when I reflect on this,
for the more I reflect on it,
the kinder you are, the more I love you.
My Redeemer, how glorious are the kindnesses
that you have shown us,
how great is the glory
that you have prepared for us!
O what a longing my soul has for you,
how I yearn with all my strength
to leave this exile
and go to my heavenly fatherland!
My Helper, you have captured my heart
with your love,
so that I yearn for you without ceasing.
O that I might come to you soon
and behold your glory!

SWV 336 – Quemadmodum desiderat cervus

Foreword

Once again Schütz takes a text from Musculus’ compilation of prayers, this time from the sixteenth section, where Chapter 35 of Pseudo-Augustine’s Soliloquia Animae ad Deum is partially reproduced. These soliloquies – which are not to be confused with another genuine work by Augustine titled Soliloquia – comprise an anonymous work dating to around the 13th century (cf. Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina 40:894). Based on Psalm 42:1,2, this meditation also has strong allusions to Psalm 63:1; Matthew 25:21,23; Philippians 2:9-11; and Revelation 22:4,5.

Published: Kleine Geistliche Konzerte II (Leipzig, 1639)

Quemadmodum desiderat cervus
ad fontes aquarum,
ita desiderat anima mea ad te,
Deus clementissime et misericordissime.
Sitivit anima mea ad te,
Deum fontem vivum,
quando veniam
et apparebo ante faciem tuam?

O fons vitae, venum aquarum viventium,
quando veniam
ad aquas dulcedinis tuae?
Quando veniam
de terra invia et inaquosa,
ut videam virtutem tuam et gloriam tuam
et satiem ex aquis misericordiae tuae
sitim meam?

Sitio, Domine,
fons vitae, satia me,
sitio, Domine, sitio te, Deum vivum.
O quando veniam et apparebo,
Domine, ante faciem tuam?
O dies praeclara et pulchra,
nesciens vesperum,
non habens occasum,
in qua audiam vocem laudis,
vocem exultationis et confessionis,
in qua audiam:
Intra in gaudium Domini tui,
intra in gaudium sempiternum,
in domum Domini Dei tui.
O gaudium super gaudium,
gaudium vincens omne gaudium,
extra quod non est gaudium.

As the deer longs
for springs of water,
so longs my soul for you,
God most compassionate and merciful.
My soul has thirsted for you,
God, the living spring:
When shall I come
and appear before your face?

O Spring of life, Channel of living waters,
when shall I come
to the waters of your sweetness?
When shall I come
away from an impassable and waterless land
to see your virtue and your glory
and to satisfy from the waters of your mercy
my thirst?

I am thirsty, Lord;
Spring of life, satisfy me.
I thirst, Lord, I thirst for you, the living God.
O when shall I come and appear,
Lord, before your face?
O day gorgeous and beautiful,
not knowing any evening,
not having any sunset,
on which I shall hear the sound of praise,
the sound of exultation and confession,
on which I shall hear:
“Enter into the joy of your Lord,
enter into joy everlasting,
into the house of the Lord your God!”
O joy beyond joy,
O joy superior to every joy,
without which there is no joy!

 

Augsburg Confession – Article 28 – Episcopal Authority

Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 27, click here.)

About episcopal authority much has been written in the past, and in that wide-ranging array of writings one can find a number of authors who have improperly intermixed the authority of the bishops with the secular sword. This improper confusion has led to very great wars, insurrection, and rebellion, occasioned by the fact that the bishops, under the pretext of their authority given to them by Christ, have not only instituted new forms of worship and burdened consciences with the reservation of certain cases1 and with fierce bans, but have also presumed to set up and depose emperors and kings as they pleased. Learned and God-fearing people within Christendom have rebuked this outrage long ago. Accordingly, for the comfort of consciences, our men have been compelled to point out the distinction between the spiritual and secular authority, sword, and government, and they have taught that, because of God’s command, people should honor and respect the government and authority of both, with all devotion, as two supreme gifts of God on earth.

Now this is what our men teach: The power of the keys2 or the authority of the bishops is, according to the gospel, an authority and commission from God to preach the gospel, to forgive and to retain sin, and to administer and handle the sacraments. For Christ sent the apostles out with this commission in John 20: “Just as my Father has sent me, so too I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit; whosever sins you will remit, they shall be remitted for them, and whosever you will retain, they shall be retained for them.”3

Second page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

One uses and exercises this power of the keys or of the bishops only by teaching and preaching God’s word and by administering the sacraments to many or individual persons, according to one’s call. For through these activities, eternal things and goods are imparted, not physical ones, namely eternal righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. There is no other way a person can obtain these goods except through the office of preaching and through the administration of the holy sacraments. For St. Paul says, “The gospel is a power of God to save all who believe in it.”4 Now since the authority of the church or bishops imparts eternal goods and is used and exercised only through the ministry of the Word, it does not anywhere hinder polity and the secular government at all. For secular government is occupied with much different matters than the gospel is. Secular power does not protect the soul; it protects body and property against external forces using the sword and physical penalties.5

Therefore the two governments, the spiritual and the secular, should not be intermixed and jumbled. For the spiritual authority has its commission to preach the gospel and to administer the sacraments, and it should not meddle in some other task. It should not set up and depose kings, should not dissolve or undermine secular law and obedience to the authorities, should not make and compose laws for secular authority concerning secular affairs, just as Christ himself also said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and, “Who has appointed me to be a judge between you?”6 And St. Paul writes to the Philippians in Chapter 3: “Our citizenship is in heaven.” And in his Second Letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 10: “The weapons of our knighthood are not those of the flesh, but powerful for God to destroy the plots and every height that rises up against the knowledge of God.”

Third page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

In this fashion our men distinguish the duties of both governments and authorities and tell people to honor both as the highest gifts of God on earth.

But where the bishops have civil government and the sword, they do not have these as bishops by divine right, but it has been given by Roman emperors and kings by human, imperial right, for civil administration of their goods, and it has nothing to do with the ministry of the gospel.

Therefore the episcopal office, according to divine right, is preaching the gospel, forgiving sins, judging doctrine and rejecting doctrines that are contrary to the gospel, and excommunicating from Christian fellowship the godless people whose godless conduct is obvious, not with human authority, but only through God’s word. When this is the case, the parishioners and churches are duty-bound to obey the bishops, according to this saying of Christ in Luke 10: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me.” But where they teach, institute, or establish something contrary to the gospel, in that case we have God’s command not to obey them in Matthew 7: “Watch out for false prophets.” And St. Paul tells the Galatians in Chapter 1: “Even if we or an angel from heaven were to preach to you another gospel than the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” And in the Second Letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 13: “We have no power against the truth, but for the truth.” Likewise: “According to the power that the Lord has given me to make better and not to ruin.” This is also what the religious law in Part 2, [Subject 2,] Question 7 commands in the chapter Sacerdotes [i.e. 8] and in the chapter Oves [i.e. 13].7 And St. Augustine writes in his epistle against Petilianus that people should not even follow the bishops who have been chosen in a regular and orderly way when they are in error or when they teach or establish something contrary to the holy and divine Scriptures.8

Fourth page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

But the fact that the bishops have authority and jurisdiction in a number of affairs besides this, like marriage cases and tithing9—they have this by the power of human right. But where the ordinaries are negligent in that capacity, the princes are duty-bound in such cases to pass judgment for their subjects for the sake of peace, regardless of whether they want to or not, in order to prevent discord and great unrest in their countries.

Moreover, it is also disputed whether bishops have power to establish ceremonies in the churches, as well as regulations about food, festivals, and about different orders of ministers. For those who give this authority to the bishops cite this saying of Christ in John 16: “I have much more to say to you, but you cannot bear it now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” They also adduce the example of Acts in Chapter 15, where they forbade blood and strangled meat. They likewise cite that the Sabbath has been changed to Sunday contrary to the Ten Commandments, as they see it, and no example is hyped and cited so much as the changing of the Sabbath, and they thereby wish to preserve the great authority of the church, since it has dispensed with the Ten Commandments and altered something in them.

But this is what our men teach in this question: The bishops do not have power to institute and establish something contrary to the gospel, just as the citations above say and the religious laws teach throughout the Ninth Distinction.10 Now this is clearly contrary to God’s command and word, to make laws or commands with the intention of making satisfaction for sins and obtaining grace by keeping them. For the glory and merit of Christ is sullied when we attempt to earn grace with such regulations. It is also as clear as day that countless human statutes have gained ground in Christendom because of this intention, and in the meantime the doctrine of faith and the righteousness of faith have been completely suppressed. Each new day new festivals, new fasts have been commanded, new ceremonies and new ways to venerate the saints have been instituted in order to earn grace and every good things from God with such works.

Fifth page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

Likewise, those who establish human regulations also go against God’s command with them, since they put sin in foods, in observing days and similar things, and thus they burden Christendom with the bondage of the law, as though there had to be a form of worship among Christians for earning God’s grace that were just like the Levitical worship, and that God supposedly entrusted the apostles and bishops with establishing this form of worship, which is what some men write about it. It is also reasonable to believe that a number of bishops have been deceived by the example of the law of Moses. That is why such countless regulations have appeared, for example, that it is a mortal sin when someone does manual labor on a festival day, even if he is not giving offense to others; that it is a mortal sin when someone omits the canonical hours; that some foods defile the conscience; that fasting is a work through which someone can appease God; that the sin in a reserved case is not forgiven, unless the person first seeks out the one who has reserved the case, regardless of the fact that the religious laws do not speak of the reservation of guilt, but of the reservation of church penalties.

Where then do the bishops get the right and power to impose such statutes on Christendom for tying consciences up in knots? For in Chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter forbids laying the yoke on the disciples’ necks. And St. Paul tells the Corinthians that they have been given the power to make better and not to ruin.11 Why then do they increase sins with such statutes?

We have clear passages of divine Scripture which forbid establishing such statutes in order to earn God’s grace with them, or as if they were necessary for salvation. Thus St. Paul says to the Colossians in Chapter 2: “So now let no one give you scruples over food or over drink or over appointed days, namely the festivals or new moons or Sabbaths, which are the shadow of the One who was to come, but the body itself is in Christ.” Likewise: “If then you have now died with Christ to the worldly regulations, when then do you let yourselves be taken captive by regulations, as if you were living? They say, ‘You should not touch this,’ ‘You should not eat or drink that,’ ‘You should not handle this,’ even though all of those things get used up, and these are human commands and teachings and have only a show of wisdom.” Likewise St. Paul in Titus 1 openly forbids people to pay attention to Jewish fables and human laws that reject the truth.

Sixth page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

Christ himself, in Matthew 15, says the same thing about those who drive people to human commands: “Let them go; they are blind guides of blind people.” And he rejects such worship and says, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted out.”

Now if the bishops have power to burden the churches with countless statutes and to tie consciences up in knots, why then does divine Scripture so often forbid the making and following of human statutes? Why does it call them devil’s doctrines?12 Did the Holy Spirit warn against all of this for no reason?

Therefore since such ordinances that have been established as necessary for appeasing God and meriting grace are contrary to the gospel, it is by no means proper for the bishops to compel such forms of worship. For in Christendom the doctrine of Christian liberty must be retained, namely that the servitude of the law is not necessary for justification, as St. Paul writes to the Galatians in Chapter 5: “So now remain in the liberty with which Christ has liberated us, and do not let yourselves be tied to the yoke of servitude once again.”13 For the chief article of the gospel must ever be preserved, that we obtain the grace of God through faith in Christ, apart from our merit, and do not earn it through worship instituted by humans.

What then should be our position on Sunday and other similar church ordinances and ceremonies? Our men give this answer: The bishops or parsons may make ordinances for the purpose of good order in the church, not for obtaining God’s grace, nor for making satisfaction for sin or binding consciences by making people think that they are necessary forms of worship and that they commit sin when they break them, even when no offense is given. Thus St. Paul prescribed for the Corinthians that their women should cover their heads in the assembly; likewise that the preachers in the assembly should not all speak at the same time, but in an orderly way, one after the other.14

It is fitting for a Christian assembly to keep such ordinances for the sake of love and peace, and to be obedient to the bishops and parsons in those cases and to keep those ordinances insofar as no one scandalizes anyone else, so that there may not be any confusion or disorderly conduct in the church. But they should be kept in such a way that consciences are not burdened because people consider such things to be necessary for salvation and they think that they are committing sin if they break them, even when no offense is given to others, just as no one today says that a woman is committing sin who goes out in public with a bare head, when no offense is given to the people.

Seventh page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

The ordinances of Sunday, the Easter celebration, Pentecost and similar celebrations and customs fall into this category. For those who think that the ordinance of Sunday as the Sabbath was established as something necessary are very much in error. For Holy Scripture has done away with the Sabbath and teaches that all the ceremonies of the old law can be discontinued now that the gospel has been revealed. And nevertheless, since it has been necessary to ordain a certain day so that the people know when they should come together, the Christian church has ordained Sunday for that purpose, and they were all the more pleased and eager to make this change in order that the people might have an example of Christian freedom. That way they would know that neither the keeping of the Sabbath nor of any other day was necessary.15

There are many improper disputations about the changing of the law, about the ceremonies of the New Testament, about the changing of the Sabbath, which have all arisen from the false and erroneous idea that people in Christendom must have a form of worship that conforms to the Levitical or Jewish worship, and that Christ has commissioned the apostles and bishops to come up with new ceremonies that are necessary for salvation. These errors have woven themselves into Christianity, since the righteousness of faith has not been clearly and purely taught and preached. Some men dispute about Sunday like this: People have to keep it, even if not by divine right, nevertheless essentially as if it were by divine right. They put forms and measures into place dictating how much work one may do on a festival. What else can such disputations be but snares for the conscience? For although they attempt to moderate and provide some balance for human ordinances, no proper balance or moderation can be found as long as the idea persists and remains that these statutes are necessary. And this idea has to remain when people know nothing of the righteousness of faith or of Christian freedom.

The apostles commanded that people should abstain from blood and strangled meat. But who keeps that now? Yet those who do not keep it are not committing any sin, for the apostles themselves also did not wish to burden consciences with such servitude, but forbade it for a time to prevent scandal. For in this regulation one must pay attention to the centerpiece of Christian doctrine, so that it is not nullified by this decree.

Eighth page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

Nearly none of the old canons are kept as they read.16 Many of their regulations continue to fall by the wayside every day, even among those who are the most diligent in observing such statutes. In this matter consciences cannot be counseled or helped unless this moderation is observed: We need to know how to keep such statutes in such a way that people do not regard them as necessary, and that even if such statutes fall out of use, it does no harm to consciences.

But the bishops would easily retain the obedience due them, if they did not insist on the observance of regulations that simply may not be observed without sin. But now they are doing just one thing and forbidding both forms of the Holy Sacrament; they likewise forbid marriage to the clergy; they admit no one until he has first taken an oath that he will not preach this doctrine of ours, even though it is without a doubt in harmony with the gospel. Our churches do not desire that the bishops restore peace and unity to the detriment of their honor and dignity, though it is the bishops’ duty to do even this in cases of necessity. This is all they are asking, that the bishops give up a few unreasonable burdens, which did not even used to exist in the church anyway and were adopted contrary to the practice of ordinary Christian churches. Perhaps there was some good reason for them at first, but they do not make sense in our times.17 It is also undeniable that some regulations have been adopted out of bad judgment. Therefore the bishops should be gracious enough to soften those regulations, since such a change will not do any harm to preserving the unity of Christian churches. For many regulations of human origin have fallen out of use all by themselves over time and are not necessary to keep, as even the papal laws testify. But if this can never be and they cannot be persuaded that human regulations that cannot be kept without sin should be moderated and done away with, then we must follow the apostle’s rule, which commands us to be more obedient to God than to humans.18

St. Peter forbids the bishops from exercising sovereign authority, as if they had the power to force the churches to do whatever they want.19 Now we are not occupied with planning how to take the bishops’ authority away from them, but we are asking and desiring that they would not force consciences to sin. But if they will not do this and despise this request, then they should remember that they will have to give an account to God for it,20 because by such stubbornness on their part they are giving occasion for division and schism, when they should in fact be duly helping to prevent it.

*****

Ninth page of Article 28 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

These are the chief articles that are considered to be disputable. For although we could have cited many more abuses and further injustice, to avoid prolixity and length21 we have only made mention of the chief ones, from which the others can easily be inferred. For in the past there have been many complaints over indulgences, over pilgrimages, over abuse of the ban. The parsons also had endless quarrels with the monks due to the hearing of confession, burials, sermons on special occasions, and countless other matters besides. We have passed over all of this as best we could and for the sake of forbearance, so that we might note the chief points in these matters that much better. It also should not be thought that anything was said or cited along the way in order to insult or express hatred for anyone. We have only related the points that we have considered necessary to cite and to mention, so that it could be seen from them that much better that nothing has been adopted by us, neither in doctrine nor in ceremonies, that goes against either the Holy Scriptures or ordinary Christian churches. For it has always been obvious and as clear as day that, with all diligence and with God’s help (not to speak boastfully), we have been on guard lest any new and godless doctrine weave its way into, spread, and prevail in our churches.

In keeping with the imperial summons, we have wished to deliver the above-cited articles as a token of our confession and of the doctrine of our men. And if anyone should discover that something is lacking in it, we stand ready to provide further information on the basis of Divine and Holy Scripture.

Your Imperial Majesty’s most submissive and obedient servants,
Johannes, Duke of Saxony, Elector
Georg, Margrave of Brandenburg
Ernst, Duke of Lüneburg
Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse
Hans [Johannes] Friedrich, Duke of Saxony
Franz, Duke of Lüneburg
Wolf[gang], Prince of Anhalt
Burgomaster and Council of Nuremberg
Burgomaster and Council of Reutlingen

(This concludes the Augsburg Confession.)

Notes

1 “The reservation of certain cases” is also simply called “reserved cases” for short. Reserved cases are those where a bishop, archbishop, or the pope reserves the right to absolve certain sins for himself. For instance, if an archbishop reserved absolution for himself in the case of a divorce committed by a king, that king’s priest or even the bishop of the diocese in which the king lived could not absolve him; only that archbishop could. Thus the king would have to first reconcile with the archbishop on the archbishop’s terms before receiving absolution. This practice not only further promoted work-righteousness, but also was little more than a show of power on the part of the church official involved.

2 Rf. Matthew 16:19; 18:15-18. Note that the second reference proves that in the first reference Jesus is not giving the power of the keys only to Peter, but to all who share Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. See also Article 11 and note 2 beneath it, and Article 14 and the notes beneath it.

3 The Latin version adds: “And in Mark 16: ‘Go, preach the gospel to every creature,’ etc.”

4 Rf. Romans 1:16. The Latin version adds: “And Psalm 118 [119] says, ‘Your utterance gives me life.’”

5 The Latin version adds: “The gospel protects souls against impious opinions, against the devil and eternal death.”

6 Rf. John 18:36; Luke 12:14

7 You can read Melanchthon’s references here (type 521 and 522, respectively, in the “Jump to page” field and click Go).

8 Once again, Melanchthon slightly mis-cites his source here. The quote does not come from Augustine’s responses to the letters of Petilianus, a Donatist. (Rf. note 3 under Article 8 for more on the Donatists.) However, the quote does come from Augustine’s book On the Unity of the Church (Chapter 11, par. 28; original Latin on cols. 410-411 here), which he wrote against the Donatists as a whole. This paragraph would be a good one to include, at least in part, in an installation or ordination service. It very clearly delineates pastoral authority, and what is owed to pastors depending on how they exercise their authority.

9 The reference here is not to Christian giving, which is supposed to be voluntary (2 Corinthians 9:7). Melanchthon is talking about the mandatory tithing of the gross proceeds of all land parcels and farms.

10 See Gratian’s Decretum, Part 1, Distinction 9, Chapters 8ff here (type 87 in the “Jump to page” field and click Go).

11 Rf. 2 Corinthians 10:8

12 Rf. 1 Timothy 4:1-3

13 Read Romans 7:1-6 for another aspect of Christian liberty.

14 These examples are found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-6,16 (note that vs. 16 often gets mistranslated); 14:26-40.

15 Note the irony that Melanchthon clearly draws out here. Sunday was voluntarily established as the main day for worship precisely to demonstrate our Christian freedom and that we no longer had to worship on Saturday (Colossians 2:16,17). Since then, however, Sunday has turned into “the New Testament Sabbath” or “the Christian Sabbath” in the eyes of many (rf. the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21) and consciences have been unnecessarily burdened over the Sunday observance. (This unnecessary burdening of conscience was a main theme of the popular 1981 British film Chariots of Fire, which dramatized the refusal of Eric Liddell, a Scottish participant in the 1924 Olympic Games, to compete on Sunday.)

16 A couple examples from the Fourth Lateran Council (1215 AD) alone:

  • Canon 13: Lest too great a diversity of religious orders lead to grave confusion in the Church of God, we strictly forbid anyone in the future to found a new order, but whoever should wish to enter an order, let him choose one already approved.
  • Canon 16: [Clergymen] shall not attend the performances of mimics and buffoons, or theatrical representations. They shall not visit taverns except in case of necessity, namely, when on a journey. They are forbidden to play games of chance or be present at them. They must have a becoming crown and tonsure and apply themselves diligently to the study of the divine offices and other useful subjects. Their garments must be worn clasped at the top and neither too short nor too long. They are not to use red or green garments or curiously sewed together gloves, or beak-shaped shoes or gilded bridles, saddles, pectoral ornaments (for horses), spurs, or anything else indicative of superfluity.

17 We do well to follow Melanchthon’s lead in humility and not immediately assume that an ancient practice that has since fallen by the wayside was foolish or ridiculous. Unless it is clearly and directly contrary to the Scriptures, we do well to remember that we were not there when it was instituted.

18 Rf. Acts 5:29

19 Rf. 1 Peter 5:1-3

20 Rf. 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 13:17

21 This is a common joke which occurs often in the writings of German theologians. It also manifests itself in this form: “In sum…” followed by several more paragraphs, or even pages, of material. (Note, however, that it is definitely not a joke to them; they truly do not seem to understand the difference between prolixity and brevity.)

Augsburg Confession – Article 27 – Monastic Vows

Article 27 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 26, click here.)

In talking about monastic vows, it is necessary, first of all, to consider how they have been handled right up to the present, what the conduct has been in the monasteries, and how so much is daily observed in them that runs contrary not just to God’s word, but also to papal laws. For in the days of St. Augustine monastic lifestyles were voluntary; later, when true discipline and doctrine were in shambles, monastic vows were invented and employed like some imaginary prison in an attempt to restore discipline.

Moreover, in addition to monastic vows, many other components were also introduced, and many people were loaded down with such bonds and burdens even before they had reached an appropriate age.

So too many individuals came to this monastic life in ignorance. Although they may not have been too young, they did not sufficiently gauge or understand their limitations. All of these individuals, now ensnared and entangled this way, have been forced and compelled to remain in such bonds, irrespective of the fact that even papal law sets many of them free. And this has been more oppressive in convents than in monasteries, even though the females should have been spared as the weaker sex.1 This kind of strictness and severity has also bothered many pious people in the past, for they could see quite well that both boys and girls were shoved into the cloisters so that someone else could look after their physical needs.2 They could also see quite well how badly such plans turned out, what scandal, what burdening of consciences it brought about, and many people have complained that in such critical cases no one paid any attention to the canons at all. In addition, such notions about monastic vows now prevail that even many monks possessing even a little understanding have obviously been disturbed by them.

Second page of Article 27 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

For they gave the impression that monastic vows were equal to baptism and that people earned forgiveness of sins and justification before God with the monastic life. Yes, they claimed even more than that, saying that people do not simply earn righteousness and piety with the monastic life, but also that they kept the commands and counsels contained in the gospel thereby, and thus monastic vows were praised more highly than baptism. They likewise claimed that a person merits more with the monastic life than with all other positions that God has ordained, such as that of parson or preacher, a position in government, the position of prince or lord, and the like, all of whom serve in their calling according to God’s law, word, and command, without invented spirituality.3 Nor can any part of this can be denied, for it can be found in their own books.

Moreover, whoever is taken prisoner in this way and comes into the cloister learns little about Christ. Perhaps in the cloisters there used to be schools of Holy Scripture and of other arts that could be of service to Christian churches, so that parsons and bishops were obtained from the cloisters. But now they have a much different form. For people used to come together in the monastic lifestyle with the intention of learning Scripture. Now they give the impression that the monastic lifestyle is the kind of existence through which one may earn God’s grace and piety in God’s sight, yes, that it is an estate of perfection, and they place it far ahead of the other estates instituted by God. Therefore all of this is being cited without any calumny,4 in order that it may be all the better perceived and understood what and how our men teach and preach.

First, regarding those who pursue marriage, this is what those in our camp teach: All who are not suited for the single life have every right to marry, for vows do not have the power to overturn God’s arrangement and command.5 Now this is how God’s command reads in 1 Corinthians 7: “To prevent fornication every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.” That is not just what God’s command says, but God’s creation and arrangement also insists on, requires, and urges marriage for everyone who is not endowed with the gift of virginity by a special act of God,6 according to this saying of God himself in Genesis 2: “It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a helper to be around him.”

Third page of Article 27 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

Now what can anyone produce to oppose this? A person can extol the vow and the obligation as highly as he wants, he can exaggerate its importance as much as possible, he still will not succeed in eliciting the proof that God’s command is thereby overturned. The Doctors of the Church say that vows that run contrary even to papal law are void;7 how much less should they bind and have validity and force when they run contrary to God’s command!

If the obligation of vows had no other reasons to be abrogated, the popes would not have given special dispensations or permissions to annul them. For no one has the right to dissolve the duty that proceeds from divine law. Therefore the popes have certainly deemed that moderation ought to be exercised in this obligation and have frequently given dispensations, such as with a king of Aragon and many others.8 Now if dispensations have been given for the preservation of temporal things, it makes much more sense that dispensations be made for the sake of spiritual needs.

Consequently, why is the opposite pushed so fiercely, that people must keep their vows without any prior consideration as to whether the vow was proper in the first place? For the vow should be achievable and be taken willingly and without compulsion. But the power and capacity within a human to keep perpetual chastity is well known, and there are few of either sex who have taken the monastic vow willingly, of their own accord, and with due consideration beforehand. They are persuaded to take the monastic vow before they have reached a mature understanding; sometimes they are also forced and pushed into it. Therefore it is simply not right for people to debate so carelessly and harshly about the obligation of vows, considering the fact that they all know that it is contrary to the nature and propriety of a vow when it is not taken willingly and after good counsel and consideration.

Several canons and papal laws dissolve vows that have been taken before the age of fifteen years.9 For they judge that a person does not have enough understanding prior to that age to be able to decide how to arrange the course of his entire life. Another canon concedes even more years to human weakness, for it forbids the monastic vow to be taken before the age of eighteen years.10 On such grounds the majority have cause and excuse to leave the cloisters, for the greater part of them have entered cloisters before these ages, while they were still children.

Fourth page of Article 27 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

Finally, even if the violation of the monastic vow could be censured, it still could not follow from that their marriages should be dissolved. For Saint Augustine says in Subject 27, Question 1, Chapter Nuptiarum [i.e. 41], that such a marriage should not be dissolved.11 Now Saint Augustine has never been lightly regarded in the Christian church, even if some men after him have been of a different opinion.

Now although God’s command regarding marriage sets many of them free and absolves them from the monastic vow, our men can advance even more reasons why monastic vows are null and void. For every form of worship that is instituted and chosen by humans without God’s law and command, in order to obtain righteousness and God’s grace, is opposed to God and contrary to the holy gospel and God’s command, just as Christ himself says in Matthew 15: “They serve me in vain with human rules.” St. Paul also consistently teaches the same thing, that we should not seek righteousness on the basis of our own rules and forms of worship that are invented by humans, but that righteousness and piety in God’s sight comes from faith and confidence, when we believe that God receives us into grace for the sake of Christ his only Son.

Now it is as obvious as it can be that the monks have taught and preached that their invented spirituality makes satisfaction for sin and obtains God’s grace and righteousness. Now what else can that be but diminishing the glory and praise of the grace of Christ and denying the righteousness of faith? Therefore it follows that such vows, as they are ordinarily taken, have been improper, counterfeit forms of worship. Accordingly they are also void. For a godless vow, and one made contrary to God’s command, is null and void, just as the canons teach that an oath should not tie someone up to sin.12

Fifth page of Article 27 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

Saint Paul says to the Galatians in Chapter 5, “You who wish to be justified by the law are cut off from Christ and have fallen from grace.” Therefore those who wish to be justified by a vow are also cut off from Christ and lacking the grace of God. For they are robbing Christ of his honor as the only one who justifies, and they are giving that honor to their vows and monastic lifestyle.

It also cannot be denied that the monks have taught and preached that they become righteous and earn forgiveness of sins through their vow and monastic existence and mode of living. Yes, they have invented and claimed something that is definitely even more warped and absurd, that they were imparting their good works to others.13 Now if someone wanted to be cruel and rub it in their faces, how many works could he compile for which the monks even now would be ashamed and wish they had not done! What is more, they have also convinced the people that their invented religious orders are states of Christian perfection. If this is not boasting that one is justified by works, what is? Now it is no small offense in the Christian church when a form of worship that humans have invented without God’s command is paraded before the people and they are taught that this form of worship makes people pious and righteous in God’s sight. For the righteousness of faith, which should be receiving the most attention in the Christian church, gets obscured when the people are engrossed with this curious angelic spirituality and false show of poverty, humility, and chastity.

Moreover, the commands of God and true and proper worship are also obscured thereby, when the people hear that the monks are the only ones who can be in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection consists of the sincere and earnest fear of God, and at the same time a sincere confidence, faith, and trust that we have a gracious, merciful God for Christ’s sake, that we may and should ask and desire of God what we need and certainly expect help from him in all troubles, according to each person’s calling and station, and that in the meantime we should also do outwardly good works and carry out our calling with diligence. That is what true perfection and true worship consists of, not in begging or in a black or gray cowl, etc. But the common people get many pernicious ideas from the false praise of the monastic life, when they hear people praising the single life without any restraint. For it follows that one cannot get married without a burdened conscience. When the common man hears that only mendicants can be perfect, how is he supposed to know that he may have property and do business without sin? When the people hear that it is only a “counsel” not to take revenge,14 it follows that some will mistakenly imagine it is not sin to exercise vengeance outside of its exercise by officials. Others will think that vengeance is improper for Christians in any context, even in the government.

A person can also read plenty of examples where some have abandoned wife and children and their administrative office and hidden themselves away in a cloister. They did it, they said, to flee from the world and to seek the kind of life that would please God more than other kinds of lives. They were not even able to recognize that one should serve God in the commands that he has given and not in the commands that are of human invention. The good and perfect state of life has always been the one that has God’s command to support it, but the state of life that does not have God’s command to support it is a dangerous one. Regarding these matters it has been necessary to give the people proper instruction.

In the past, Gerson also rebuked the monks’ erroneous ideas about perfection. He indicates that it was a new saying in his time that the monastic life was a state of perfection.15

So many godless and erroneous ideas are ingrained in monastic vows—that they justify and make a person pious in God’s sight, that they constitute Christian perfection, that by taking them a person keeps both the counsels and commands of the gospel, that they possess extra works, beyond what God actually requires of a person. Since then all of this is false, empty, and made up, that leaves monastic vows null and void too.16

(To continue to Article 28, click here.)

Notes

1 Rf. 1 Peter 3:7

2 This is in fact what likely happened to Martin Luther’s eventual wife, Katharina von Bora. Rf. Rudolf K. Markwald and Marilynn Morris Markwald, Katharina von Bora: A Reformation Life (St. Louis: CPH, 2002), pp. 22-26.

3 See Article 16 and note 4 beneath it.

4 The Latin version reads: “without any hateful exaggeration”.

5 Read Judges 11:30-35 for an example of someone who did not seem to understand the relationship between vows and God’s commands, and 1 Samuel 25:4-35 for an example of someone who did.

6 See 1 Corinthians 7:7 for scriptural support of Melanchthon’s assertion that a special act and gift of God is required in order to maintain virginity.

7 See Gratian’s Decretum, Part 2, Subject 20, Question 4, Chapter 2 here (type 878 in the “Jump to page” field and click Go).

8 The “king of Aragon” (today part of Spain) was Ramiro II (1086-1157). He had been a Benedictine monk, but after the death of his childless brother, Alfonso I, he was released from his vows and succeeded his brother as king. Melanchthon probably knew of this story from Jean Charlier de Gerson’s De consiliis evangelicis et statu perfectionis; rf. Joannis Gersonii Doctoris Theologi & Cancellarii Parisiensis Opera Omnia, ed. Louis Ellies du Pin, vol. 2 (Antwerp, 1706), col. 678c.

9 See Gratian’s Decretum, Part 2, Subject 20, Question 1, Chapter 10 here (type 873 in the “Jump to page” field and click Go).

10 See ibid., Chapter 5 here (type 872 in the “Jump to page” field and click Go).

11 You can read Melanchthon’s reference here (type 1054 in the “Jump to page” field and click Go; the reference continues onto the next page). The original quote by Augustine in On the Good of Widowhood can be read in English here (from “Therefore the good of marriage” toward the end of Section 11 through “…by how much the less necessity he had to vow” in Section 14), and in the original Latin here, cols. 437-439. The larger point here is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Another practical application of the same principle is when a woman gets a divorce and marries another man, then later has qualms of conscience about whether her divorce had scriptural grounds. Whatever the case might be, she should of course not add sin to sin by divorcing her second husband and seeking to reunite with her first husband. She should rather repent to God of whatever sin may have been, or was, committed in her divorce and seek to live as honorably as possible in her second marriage.

12 See Gratian’s Decretum, Part 2, Subject 22, Question 4, Chapter 22 here (type 905 in the “Jump to page” field and click Go). The quote there is taken from an apocryphal letter of Augustine to Bishop Severus of Milevi in Numidia. The writer makes this observation in lines 8-9 of the quote: “It is apparent that oaths were not instituted to be fetters of iniquity.”

13 The technical term for extra good works in Roman Catholic theology is “works of supererogation.” The idea is that those who are truly saints, and thus go straight to heaven when they die, had more merits than were necessary for themselves. The value of these extra works goes into a spiritual treasure box, the treasury of the Church, along with the merits of Christ. The pope can then dispense from this treasury at his discretion, e.g. through indulgences. Rf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., pars. 1474-1479, where, however, the term “works of supererogation” is not used.

14 Melanchthon is referring to Jesus’ preaching on revenge in Matthew 5:38-41. The Romanists called Jesus’ commands in this sermon “evangelical counsels”: “In general, the teachings of the New Law proposed by Jesus to his disciples which lead to the perfection of Christian life. In the New Law, the precepts are intended to remove whatever is incompatible with charity [Christian love]; the evangelical counsels are to remove whatever might hinder the development of charity, even if not contrary to it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., Glossary). Even according to this modern definition, it clear that willfully and persistently acting contrary to these “counsels” is not necessarily regarded as detrimental to or incompatible with membership in the Holy Christian Church. (Note the word “proposed” and the phrases “whatever might hinder” and “even if not contrary to [charity].”) Rather than interpreting Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as a more explicit explanation of God’s law already given in the Old Testament, they regard it as a “New Law,” meant only for those who really wish to strive after Christian perfection.

15 Gerson was already mentioned in note 2 under Article 26. He did indeed write prolifically against the concept of the state of perfection; his entire work De consiliis evangelicis et statu perfectionis (On the Evangelical Counsels and the State of Perfection) addresses it. Rf. the link in note 8 above, cols. 669ff.

16 One can tell that Melanchthon is very passionate about this subject; this is the longest article of the Augsburg Confession thus far, and only the next article is longer. His conclusion at the end is reflected in the fact that there are very few Lutheran monasteries today, and those that exist are such in name only. For example, the one-time Augustinian monastery in Erfurt where Martin Luther once lived is technically Lutheran today, but is preserved merely as a historical museum. Some monasteries did become Lutheran following the Reformation, but since members only took vows and lived in them on a voluntary basis, their membership dwindled over time until the institutions collapsed. In some cases, the buildings only continued to be maintained because the monasteries were converted into hospitals or other charitable institutions.