Luther Visualized 20 – Final Days

Luther’s Final Days

Luther’s Death House Museum, Andreaskirchplatz 7, Eisleben (© Red Brick Parsonage, 2018). This has been an officially, though erroneously, designated memorial site since 1863.

Even though the quality of his work declined in his waning years, Martin Luther ended his life well.

His last actions show that he ended his life serving his neighbors in love. He spent the last days of his life at the end of January and beginning of February 1546 trying to help disputing counts resolve their differences in the city of Eisleben.

His last written words, found on a slip of paper in his pocket on February 16, show that he ended in humility:

1) No one can understand Vergil in his Bucolics and Georgics [poems about the life of a shepherd and a farmer], unless he has been a shepherd or farmer for five years.
2) No one (as I see it) will understand Cicero in his letters unless he has been active for 25 years in some prominent commonwealth.
3) Let no one think he has sufficiently tasted the Holy Scriptures, unless he has governed the churches for a hundred years with the prophets.

Enormous therefore is the phenomenon of
1) John the Baptist,
2) Christ, and
3) the apostles.

Do not tamper with this divine Aeneid [Vergil’s epic masterpiece], but bow down and adore its very footprints.
We are beggars; this is true.

And his last spoken words show that he ended trusting in his Savior. On the night of February 17, he suffered pains and tightness in his chest. He woke up at about 1 a.m. on February 18 and expressed matter-of-factly that he was going to die in the city where he had been born and baptized. He recited several Bible passages—John 3:16, Psalm 68:20, and especially Psalm 31:5, which he spoke three times in rapid succession: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit; you have redeemed me, God of truth.”

When he became very still, Justus Jonas and Michael Coelius addressed him loudly as it was perhaps approaching 2:30: “Reverend Father, are you ready to die standing firmly on Christ and the doctrine that you have proclaimed?”

Luther rallied his strength and spoke a distinct “Yes,” then fell asleep for the final time. At about 2:45 he grew very pale under his face, his feet and nose grew cold, and he took a deep but gentle breath and gave up his spirit peacefully.

Martin Luther’s Headstone beneath the pulpit in the Castle Church (© Red Brick Parsonage, 2018).

His mortal remains are still buried in a coffin almost eight feet beneath the floor under the pulpit of the Castle Church. It is humbling to stand in front of it and to ponder how the triune God used this frail, sinful human instrument. Those who believe in the Savior of the world as Luther did know that, if they were suddenly to collapse and die, right there in front of his grave or anywhere else on earth, their eternal destination is not in question. Heaven is their home, and it has nothing to do with them being such good people. By nature they deserve hell just like Luther and everybody else. But because of the good news of righteousness graciously given that was restored to its proper place through Luther, they know that they are not going to get what they deserve. They are going to get what their Savior has won for them.

Melanchthon’s words are true in more than one way: Et mortuus vivit. Even dead, he lives.

Luther’s Actual Death House

During his final days in Eisleben, Luther stayed with his friend Johann Albrecht, the city clerk. After Luther’s death, the house quickly developed into a popular pilgrimage destination. Visitors would bring pieces of his deathbed back home; these shavings were allegedly used by some to treat toothache. Since these superstitions were reminiscent of the relics cult that Luther had condemned, the evangelical theologians in Halle put an end to them in 1707 by unceremoniously burning Luther’s deathbed and having the house closed to the public.

In 1726 Eusebius Christian Francke, a cantor, historian, and amateur theologian, having already published a history of the Countship of Mansfeld in 1723, drew up a Versuch einer Historischen Beschreibung der Hauptstatt der Graffschaft Mannßfeld und weltberühmten Geburthsstadt Lutheri Eißleben (Attempt at a Historical Description of Eisleben, the Chief City of the Countship of Mansfeld and World-Renowned City of Luther’s Birth; manuscript in the Eisleben City Archives). In this work he identified the house at what is today Andreaskirchplatz 7 as Luther’s death house. However, he confused the house of Dr. Philipp Drachstedt, in which Luther had died, with the house of his son, Barthel Drachstedt, a mere 50 meters away. Though Francke’s work was never published, a later local chronicler consulted it and used its information towards the end of the century, thus legitimizing the error.

King Wilhelm I of Prussia bought the mistakenly identified house in 1862 and his government subsequently established it as a Luther memorial. The government also commissioned art professor Friedrich Wilhelm Wanderer in 1892 to oversee the renovation of two rooms in the museum, which were thought to be the ones mentioned in Justus Jonas and Michael Coelius’ report of Luther’s death. Wanderer was to see that these rooms were period-correct in style and filled visitors with a sense of reverence for the man who had supposedly died there.

In the late 1960s a chemist and amateur historian named Franz Rämmele was in the Eisleben Museum doing some research on the history of the Department of Central Labor of the Wilhelm Pieck Mansfeld Combine VEB (German abbreviation for Publicly Owned Company). He came across an ancient city plan which showed a street where Luther’s Death House should have been. Resolving to the get to the bottom of the mystery, he eventually synopsized his findings in an essay that he submitted to the museum for safekeeping; he also gave a copy to the Institute for Monument Preservation and filed another in the Mansfeld Combine Archives. Word began to spread in the city that Rämmele had discovered that Luther had actually died in the Socialist Unity Party of Germany’s district administration office for the Mansfeld Combine. The First Secretary of the administration, Ernst Wied, saw the rumors as an attack on the political party, which consistently painted Luther in a negative light. He summoned Rämmele and “made it clear that Luther already had a death house,” though Rämmele later claimed that the secretary’s fears were unfounded, because he never had any intention of publishing his findings.

Hotel Graf von Mansfeld, Markt 56 (© Red Brick Parsonage, 2018), which marks the actual location where Martin Luther died.

In 2001 Dr. Eberhard Eigendorf caused a stir with his self-published work, Gab es in Eisleben Wohnschlösser der Mansfelder Grafen? In welchem Hause verstarb der Reformator Martin Luther am 18. Februar 1546? (Were There Residential Castles for the Counts of Mansfeld in Eisleben? In What House Did the Reformer Martin Luther Pass Away on February 18, 1546?) Both Eigendorf and Rämmele came to the same conclusion, that Martin Luther died at what is now Markt 56. The original building has long ago burned down. Today the site is occupied by the Hotel Graf von Mansfeld, a well-rated restaurant and hotel.

Nevertheless, the mistakenly identified building continues to serve as the official museum commemorating Luther’s final days on earth. In 2013, after a two-year renovation, it reopened with a permanent exhibition called “Luther’s Final Path.”

Andreas Ranft, ed., Sachsen und Anhalt: Jahrbuch der Historischen Kommission für Sachsen-Anhalt (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2003), vol. 24, p. 251

Burkhard Zemlin, “Martin Luthers Sterbehaus: Uralter Stadtplan hat stutzig gemacht” (accessed 4 December 2017)

E. G. Schwiebert, Luther and His Times: The Reformation from a New Perspective (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950), pp. 745-752

Eusebius Christian Francke, Historie der Grafschafft Manßfeld (Leipzig: Jacob Schuster, 1723)

Franz Kadell, “Das echte und das falsche Sterbehaus” (accessed 4 December 2017)

Luther Visualized 18 – Physical Appearance

Lutherstadt Eisleben, “Sterbehaus” (accessed 4 December 2017)

Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: The Preservation of the Church (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), pp. 369-382

Weimarer Ausgabe 48:241; 54:479ff, esp. 489ff

The Death of Dr. C. F. W. Walther

By Prof. Martin Günther

✠ Dr. C. F. W. Walther ✠

So the sad occurrence has now come to pass. Although it was not unexpected, all our hearts are still filled with the deepest grief. Our dearly beloved and highly respected father and teacher, Dr. C. F. W. Walther, has passed away.

What this dear, departed man has meant to our synod,1 yes, to the Church both near and far, and what we therefore have now lost by losing him, we need not highlight here. What we have him to thank for, right after God, we highlighted in Der Lutheraner when we had occasion to report on his 50th anniversary in the ministry,2 and the synodical address and synodical sermon printed in this issue show how we rightly mourn, yet not without hope.

We will therefore limit ourselves here to a brief recounting of our blessed Walther’s final days on earth and of his blessed departure.

The aforementioned issue already reported on the illness he had contracted.2 Since that time, with every passing week, the hope that this faithful, tireless laborer would be restored to his work in the Lord’s vineyard increasingly dwindled. His strength continued to wane. Indeed, at first the departed was entertaining the hope that he would still recover at some point; indeed, the man who was accustomed only to work on behalf of God’s kingdom was thinking that he would be able, even if only in a limited way, to take up his usual work once again. But later he gave up these thoughts and looked forward to his release from bondage and eagerly anticipated his redemption.

He often confessed that he experienced great joy when he called to mind all of the many great blessings which God had shown him during his long life. Right up to the end, he often praised it as a special grace of God that God had protected him from severe spiritual afflictions in this final illness, which he had not been spared in past illnesses. He also comforted himself with God’s gracious election, and was comforted by others with it. One time he mentioned that many people probably considered him a truly stubborn man who would not be dissuaded from his opinions, but he was certain that this “obstinacy,” with which he had held firmly to the truth he had come to know, was a donum Dei (gift of God).3 Regarding special wishes and concerns for the future, he expressed several times that he had nothing in particular on his heart—just one matter that Mr. Pastor Stöckhardt took care of at his wish. Only in general terms did he frequently declare: Oh, if our synod will simply persevere in what she has! God has shown her such extravagant grace. And if she will only preserve a devout ministerium and not let any unworthy persons into the ministry [ins Amt]!

In his final weeks he often slept and was unconscious. Visitors could speak with him very little. During this time, when writers, upon taking their leave, would say to him, “The Lord will not leave you or forsake you; he will stand by you with his power,” the wearied man would turn his head a little and say, “Especially in the final hour!” Often the sigh would rise from his heart: “God, have mercy!” Often he would pray: “Jesus, your blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress,” etc.4 When Mr. Pastor O. Hanser took leave of him and asked him if he was looking forward to the glory of heaven, he answered, “Yes.”

Concerning his final days, Mr. Pastor Stöckhardt reports as follows:

At 5:30 this evening ([Saturday,] May 7), our Dr. Walther was finally set free from his prolonged suffering and transferred to the company of those who have overcome. His final days were a truly peaceful conclusion to a difficult confinement in bed. While he was almost continually without consciousness a week ago, since Wednesday one could once again speak with him intelligibly and he understood everything that was said to him. At the start of the convention, his son reminded him that the convention was now beginning, but that he would soon be called to another assembly, that of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. To that he replied, “That will be glorious!” Indeed he still did much sighing: “God, have mercy! O God, do not forsake me!” But right up to the end he also affirmed the deathbed comfort that people shared with him from God’s Word with “Yes,” or by nodding, or with a handshake. When an old church member visited him the day before yesterday and began to speak Psalm 23, he recited the entire psalm. Yesterday evening we prepared ourselves for the end. At his request I prayed one more time with him and his relatives and then read the verse from the evening hymn: “Should this night be my final night In this dark vale of tears, Let me behold your Son in light With your elected heirs,” etc.5 When I was finished, he said, “May God grant it!” I then posed him this question: Was he now also ready to die confidently in the same grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to which he had testified throughout his life? He answered it with a loud and clear “Yes.” Toward midnight he seemed to have terrible pains one more time, and then he said, “That is enough!” After that, he seems to have experienced no more agony. The whole day today he was, as they say, at the point of death, but he did remain conscious right up to the end, and he made it clearly known that he had no problem understanding what his son, Prof. Schaller, and I said to him. One hour before his death, I was called straight to another dying man and, when I came back, I found him departed. In short, it was a truly peaceful, quiet, uplifting conclusion to a prolonged, often gloomy period of suffering.

We bow down beneath the hand of God. It is sorrowful for us. It is wonderful for him. He has entered into his Master’s happiness. We can only imagine the joys with which the soul of this devout and faithful servant was received! O how glorious, how great his reward will be!

Der Lutheraner, vol. 43, no. 10 (May 15, 1887), pp. 77-78

1 Namely, the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, today called the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

2 From Der Lutheraner, vol. 43, no. 3 (February 1, 1887), p. 17: “This issue of Der Lutheraner is festively decorated, and rightly so, since the man who founded this newspaper in 1844, who ran it by himself for years, who, even after its editorship was placed into the hands of the St. Louis seminary faculty, has labored most faithfully on its behalf and carried its welfare on his heart up to the present, namely Mr. Doctor C. F. W. Walther, celebrated his 50th anniversary in the ministry [Amtsjubiläum] on January 16.

“Now if it is already a great and gracious gift of God when a servant of the Church has labored for 50 years in one or more congregations, then we should extol it as an especially great and gracious gift when such a man has completed 50 years in the ministry [Amtsjahre] who has served not just as a pastor, but whose service has extended into far reaches. And this is the case with our beloved celebrant. Passing over his abundantly fruitful activity as a pastor, he has functioned as editor of Der Lutheraner, as author of many significant doctrinal and polemic writings, as long-standing president of our synod, as professor and president of our St. Louis institution, as tireless speaker and consultant at synod conventions, as correspondent and adviser not just here in America, but also all the way into the farthest reaches of our church, to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Not just friends, but even opponents are compelled to acknowledge this abundantly fruitful activity. Thousands owe him a debt of thanks, right after God. Our paper therefore has fittingly put on festive adornment in honor of this joyous occasion for its founder.”

From the same issue, column 2 of p. 18: “This celebration, which for many months now had occupied the hearts of the St. Louis congregations and of most of the congregations in the synod, now lies behind us. During this time, ardent prayers have ascended to the throne of divine grace, asking that our faithful Savior would please permit our faithful teacher to enjoy this great and rare day of honor in good health and with all his former mental vigor, and that he would permit us to celebrate a truly joyful day of jubilee. But it has pleased the Lord, in his unsearchable wisdom, not to answer our prayers in the way our hearts implored; otherwise we would be able to report today on a larger public celebration. If all of our human wishes and plans had been achievable, this day would certainly have been a day of jubilee for the entire synod, led by the St. Louis congregations, and the presidents and delegations from all our synodical schools and pastoral conferences would have made an appearance. For, God be praised, everyone in our synod was saying the same thing, that we had to honor the celebrant as the spiritual father of the synod, whom God has so richly endowed with such extraordinary gifts, because it is chiefly due to him that our synod has spread out so rapidly, that she has enjoyed such unity in faith and confession with corresponding practice, and that each one of her congregations enjoys such glorious freedom and independence, limited only by the clear word of God. And since this is true only by God’s free grace, this day was accordingly also supposed to be prepared as a day of rejoicing and of pure thanks and praise for God’s superabundant grace, which he has so undeservedly shown us through the celebrant.

“These were our human thoughts. But God had other things in mind. The illness of our dear doctor, which had already cropped up in September of last year, grew all the more rampant as he strenuously carried on with his work in his old self-denying way, without permitting himself a moment’s rest, until he finally exhausted himself completely and broke down. The illness had now grown so strong that all the skill of the doctors seemed wasted and we even despaired of his life. But God answered the prayers of his children that were certainly being sent up to him from all over the synod on behalf of this precious life. The illness slowly abated, but a completely extraordinary infirmity remained, which still left us in a constant state of concern for his life. Naturally, this extremely critical condition soon threw all plans for a larger celebration up in the air and, when asked about it, the doctors unanimously declared that, while they did have confident expectations for the dear invalid’s eventual recovery, an exciting, outdoor celebration was also out of the question for the time being. However, they were optimistic that a quieter, short congratulation ceremony in his room with not too many visitors, as the expression of sincere love and grateful veneration, would be much more likely to have a beneficial effect on him.”

3 This is reminiscent of John Adams’ famous quote: “Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right” (David McCullough, John Adams [New York: Touchstone, 2002], p. 228).

4 At age three, Walther had memorized this stanza for Christmas. “His father was so impressed by this memory that he gave Ferdinand a three-penny piece. This left an indelible mark on the young boy, who determined that if knowing this text was worth so much to his father, it must contain a very important truth” (C. F. W. Walther, Law & Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, ed. Charles P. Schaum [St. Louis: CPH, 2010], p. xix).

5 The final two stanzas of J. F. Herzog’s hymn, “Nun sich der Tag geendet hat.”

Obituary for Andreas Schroedel

By W. J. Schulze

Translator’s Preface

Obituaries today are, for the most part, very skeletal. This seems a shame, considering the opportunity confessional Lutherans have to let their light shine in the writing of obituaries – not only to express the sure hope of eternal life in the face of death, but also to share moments from the Christian life that make the Christian faith supremely attractive.

In the process of some historical research, I came across this breathtaking obituary of Andreas Schroedel (1851-1909). It comes from the Ev.-Luth. Gemeinde-Blatt [Evangelical Lutheran Church Paper], vol. 44, no. 24 (15 Dec 1909), p. 370,371.

Rev. Schroedel concluded his ministry as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota (which has since merged with one of its daughter congregations to become Crown of Life in West St. Paul), and as president of the Minnesota Synod (back when the Wisconsin Synod was a federation of smaller state synods). He is buried in Elmhurst Cemetery, St. Paul. As you can see, the story of Schroedel’s life also gives us a glimpse into the heart of the founding president of the Wisconsin Synod, Johannes Muehlhaeuser.

President Andreas Schroedel

Andreas Schroedel

Andreas Schroedel

The Lord has paid us a difficult visit and has suddenly put us into a state of profound grief. On the last Sunday in the church year, November 21, 1909, he called Andreas Schroedel, our dear president, out of this earthly life. The funeral took place on Wednesday, November 24, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Around 10 a.m. a brief service was held at his home for his relatives. A number of pastors and professors were also present for this service. Pastor C. J. Albrecht comforted the bereaved using the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:17,18. Around 11 o’clock the coffin was carried by the elders to Trinity Church, where it was put on the bier in order to give the members of the church and the many friends an opportunity to look one last time on their pastor and friend who had fallen asleep. In keeping with the family’s wishes, members of the Board of Elders served as the honor guard1 from 11:00-1:30, and Pastors Schrader, Haase, Emmel, and Schulze from 1:30-2:00. During those three hours a continuous string of dear friends, young and old, passed by the coffin, while the organist played soothing selections. Around 2 o’clock the relatives were ushered into the church, and the service began with a congregational hymn (no. 624).2 The director [chairman] of the congregation, A. Ackermann, spoke the prayer at the altar and read Psalm 90. By special request of the grieving widow, Pastor J. Plocher delivered the German sermon. He chose Hebrews 13:7 as his text. Vice President A. F. Zich preached the English sermon on Luke 12:42-44. The undersigned read the biographical sketch of the deceased. The church choir and Concordia College’s student choir sang funeral songs. Particularly moving was the singing of the dear old song, “Laßt mich geh’n [Let Me Go],” by the schoolchildren.

Brief addresses were also delivered by President F. Soll, representing our joint synod and joint institutions; President G. E. Bergemann, representing the Wisconsin Synod and Northwestern University; President Theo. Braeuer, representing the Nebraska Synod; Vice President F. Pfotenhauer, representing the Joint Synod of Missouri; Dr. H. G. Stub, representing the Norwegian Synod; and Pastor P. Kreinheder, representing the English Missouri Synod. Director [President] J. Schaller from the seminary in Wauwatosa, Dr. J. H. Ott from Northwestern University in Watertown, almost the entire faculty from New Ulm, and many other pastors and professors from both our synod and the Missouri Synod were in attendance. All were deeply moved and the eyes of many were filled with tears when the shepherd was carried out of the church who had faithfully tended his congregation for 16 years and had on so many occasions unselfishly served us, his brothers, by counsel and action. By 5 o’clock the observance in the church was ended and the long funeral procession went slowly with the mortal frame of the dear deceased to the cemetery. There Pastor A. F. Winter officiated. It was already dark when the large number of mourners came from the grave, deeply grieved, yet comforted, for “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” [Rev 14:13].

President Schroedel was born on January 29, 1851, in Neustadtren [sic], Kulm[bach], in Bavaria, the youngest child of the master weaver Johann Schroedel and his wife Katharina (née Denderlein). In Holy Baptism he received the name Andreas. In 1853 his parents emigrated to America and established their home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There they became members of Grace Church and were under the spiritual care of Pastor Muehlhaeuser. The young Andreas received his schooling and confirmation instruction in this church and was confirmed by Pastor Muehlhaeuser in 1864. After his confirmation he would gladly have enrolled at once in our school of the prophets in Watertown in order to prepare himself for the holy preaching ministry, except that this ardent wish, which was both his own and his pious mother’s, had to remain just a wish at first, since his parents were lacking the necessary financial means for such schooling. For a considerable time, therefore, Andreas Schroedel helped his parents as he was able in the acquisition of their daily bread. But Pastor Muehlhaeuser, who had become fond of the pious and gifted boy and had in his confirmation instruction recognized the glorious gifts that God had given him, felt sorry that such an instrument should continue to be withheld from the holy preaching ministry. Accordingly Pastor Muehlhaeuser, by God’s grace, sought and found means and ways that Andreas Schroedel could enroll at Northwestern University in Watertown, Wisconsin, in spite of his circumstances. He faithfully made the most of his time there, and in 1873 passed his examination and received his certificate of maturity. In the fall of the same year he enrolled at the seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied theology there for three years and in 1876 received his certification for the holy preaching ministry from the Concordia Seminary faculty. The young candidate was first a pastor of the church in Naugart, Marathon County, Wisconsin. After he had served this congregation for five years, he followed a call to the church in Ridgeville, Wisconsin, in 1881. While serving there, he also served St. James Church in Norwalk and, until the fall of 1884, the church in Tomah, Wisconsin. In 1889 Pastor Schroedel was issued the call: “The Lord requires your services at the institution in Watertown.” From September of 1889 to June of 1893 he served his alma mater, Northwestern University in Watertown, Wisconsin, as a professor. From Watertown the Lord sent him to Trinity Church in St. Paul, where he has continuously been a faithful and conscientious caretaker of souls and served unselfishly since the 11th Sunday after Trinity, 1893. For years he has also served our joint synod as a member of various boards, as he was able, and our dear Minnesota Synod will certainly not forget him. Ever since he came to our synod, he has carried its welfare on a praying heart and sought to promote its welfare as best he could. For the past three years he has been our president, and he has discharged the duties of this difficult and highly responsible office with selflessness and devotion, both in general and in particulars. Yes, we recognize that in our dear President Schroedel we have lost a simple but faithful father and brother.

In the first year of his ministry, Pastor Schroedel joined Anna Bluehr in holy matrimony. After a short time God took his wife from him through death. On May 8, 1881, he married widow Emma Hoops (née Franke). With fortune and blessing he was permitted to live in this marriage until the end of his life. Three years ago they were able to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary and to thank God for his blessing and protection.

The Schroedel family plot in Elmhurst cemetery. Andreas' gravestone is in the foreground on the left. The carving on the bottom of the cross itself reads, "Christus, der ist mein Leben, Sterben ist mein Gewinn" ("For me to live is Jesus, To die is gain for me").

The Schroedel family plot in Elmhurst cemetery. Andreas’ gravestone is in the foreground on the left. The carving on the bottom of the cross itself reads, “Christus, der ist mein Leben, Sterben ist mein Gewinn” (“For me to live is Jesus, To die is gain for me”).

President Schroedel has also experienced this grace from our benevolent Lord, that throughout his life he was permitted to enjoy good health, so that during these many years he could discharge the duties of the office so dear to him almost without interruption. Not until the last two weeks of his life could he not carry out his duties; even then, no one suspected that he was very seriously ill. But on November 19, his condition kept getting more and more critical, and only an operation was left as the final option for the doctors to try in order to save him. With these final words to his family, “Commit your ways to the Lord and hope in him; he will make it turn out well,” he let himself be brought to the hospital, comforted and composed. There Pastor Plocher prayed with him and administered the Sacrament of the Lord to him for his strengthening. After receiving the Holy Supper, he once more folded his hands and prayed, “Dear Father in heaven, your will is always the best, whether it be for heavenly life or, if it is possible, for a longer earthly life. I commit myself entirely to your protection. For me to live is Jesus; To die is gain for me. So, when my Savior pleases, I meet death willingly. For Christ, my Lord and brother, I leave this world so dim And gladly seek another, Where I shall be with him.”3

Shortly before his death, after his wife had also prayed with him the Lord’s Prayer and the final two stanzas of no. 164: “My Savior, then be near me,” etc.,4 he took leave of his love for this life forever, squeezed her hand once more and said, “Don’t cry that I am departing from you. You have someone with you who cares for you better than I and who is always with you.” Weary and faint, he lay back down on the pillow, drew a few more deep breaths, and fell asleep gently and peacefully – it was just after 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon – and entered into the rest of the people of God.

The next of kin who survive him are his wife, his sons Otto (in Omaha, Nebraska), Theophil (currently a student at the University of Berlin), his daughter Lydia, and a sister. He brought the duration of his earthly pilgrimage to 58 years, 9 months, and 23 days. — For 33 of those years he continuously served the church of Jesus Christ as a preacher of the gospel. May his memory remain with us in blessing! “Remember your teachers who have spoken the word of God to you; contemplate their end and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).

Respectfully submitted,
W. J. Schulze


1 Today this practice is generally only found at a military funeral. But it appears to have been customary back then also at the funeral of any important personage.

2 “Ich hab’ mich Gott ergeben,” by J. Siegfried (1564-1637), an untranslated hymn sung to the same tune as “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (Christian Worship 105).

3 The author literally reports that Schroedel ended the prayer, “Christ, who is my life, etc. [sts. 1 & 2, no. 639].” This corresponds to sts. 1 & 2 of Christian Worship 606, “For Me to Live Is Jesus.”

4 This corresponds to the final two sts. of Christian Worship 105, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”