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I originally made overly ambitious plans to translate Wilibald Gurlitt’s dissertation on Praetorius.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.

Strieter Autobiography: Subscribing for the Book

If you are interested in owning a hard copy of Strieter’s autobiography, please read on. (If you do not yet know anything about the autobiography, please read Part 1 here.)

The most recent installment of Strieter’s autobiography, that is, the last part of the chapter “Hardships and Happenings,” will be the last installment from that work that appears on this blog. The remaining chapters are:

  • “Battle with the Fanatics” – his encounters with the Methodists and Albright Brethren during his Wisconsin years
  • “My Departure from the Injunland”
  • “Aurora” – his time in Aurora, Illinois
  • “Snippet on Squaw Grove and Pierceville”
  • “Peru” – his time in Peru, Indiana (today St. John’s, Peru)
  • “Proviso” – his time in Proviso, Illinois (today Immanuel, Hillside)
  • “The Saloon and Ball” – his battle against drinking and dancing in Proviso
  • “The Lodge” – his battle against lodge membership
  • “Pleasant Experiences” – the stand-out joys that God gave him throughout his ministry, including his marriage, and also his retirement from the ministry
  • “Addendum”

At this point, the plan is to publish the autobiography as a hardcover book when finished, even to self-publish if necessary. If self-publishing is necessary, complimentary volumes would be given to anyone who has been helpful in this process, most notably the Concordia Historical Institute, the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library, and a select group of Pastor Strieter’s descendants. I would ask any other descendant of Pastor Strieter for a donation simply matching the per-volume cost of publication. And to anyone else interested, I would ask for a donation marginally exceeding the per-volume cost (the goal being to make up for the complimentary volumes and ultimately to break even). (If a professional publisher accepts the manuscript, then I would only see to it that the complimentary volumes were distributed.)

If self-published, the format and size of the book would tentatively be something akin to a David McCullough hardcover, minus the dust jacket – with a small, elegant, professional emblem on the cover (silhouette of a profile of a bearded man with horse and buggy), two or three groups of pages with pictures related to the content inserted at intervals (thus no picture will be by itself in the body of the text), and a section of endnotes at the end of each chapter (as opposed to footnotes on each page) so that they don’t distract the reader who simply wishes to enjoy the autobiography by itself. Regardless of how it is published, I will also see to the provision of an index of names, places, concepts, events, etc. including modern-day churches descended from or related to the congregations Strieter mentions.

I am hereby asking all interested parties – whether individuals, societies, or organizations – to provide me with their name(s), address(es), and the number of copies desired. You can email me at:

redbrickparsonage@gmail.com

I will compile these names in a subscription spreadsheet so that I have a good idea of how many copies to have printed.

The other benefit of an advance subscriber spreadsheet is that, if the number of subscribers adds up sufficiently, I may be able to use that spreadsheet to persuade a publisher to accept the manuscript and take over publishing responsibilities. While this might affect format, size, and layout, it would definitely make my life easier and most likely result in broader distribution.

Thank you for your interest in Strieter’s autobiography, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Luther Christmas Sermons to Press!

The bad news: I have removed Martin Luther’s five sermons on Isaiah’s six names for Jesus from this blog.

The good news: I have removed them as a result of a contract with Northwestern Publishing House (NPH), who will, God willing, publish them in connection with the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. The plan at this point is to publish them as an Advent/Christmas devotional.

This 1531 Christmas sermon series by Luther is not only thoroughly scriptural and edifying, but is also of historical value. It provides a good glimpse into Luther the man – his sense of humor, his past experiences in the Roman Church, his experience with the German Peasants’ War, and his down-to-earth manner of communicating God’s word.

Please watch for this book from NPH in 2017, and thanks for your continued support of Red Brick Parsonage!