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!

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.