Schneegass was born in 1546 in the village of Bufleben, north of Gotha. He came from a peasant family and experienced a youth shaped by military turmoil during the Smalcaldic War, with the siege of Gotha by the Elector Augustus of Saxony. He attended Handelsschule (trade school) in Gotha and studied at the University of Jena from 1565, mainly with Cyriacus Lindemann.
Evidence of his life can be found again in 1573, when he took his first ministry as the fifth Protestant pastor at St. Blasius Church in Friedrichroda. At the same time he held the post of superintendent of the Weimar adjuncts. He married Dorothea Lindemann, the only daughter of his teacher who had died in 1568. The couple had eight daughters, four of whom are mentioned by name in the preface to his Spiritual songs and hymns, and two sons who died early.
Schneegass died in Friedrichroda.
A volume in the series of his publications, Briefe hervorragender Männer der Reformationszeit (Schmalkalden 1598) contains correspondence with prominent reformers including Luther and Caspar Cruciger.
In 1595 he published the Weyhenacht- und Neujahrsmotetten von 4 Stimmen (Motets for four parts for Christmas and New Year), published in two volumes in Erfurt, containing his own compositions as well as other composers'.
His most successful release was the release of 73 geistliche Lieder (73 spiritual songs).
Of his hymns, the song In dir ist Freude in allem Leide (1598) on a melody by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi is still in the Protestant hymnal (EG 398). A familiar Christmas hymn is titled Das neugeborne Kindelein (The newborn little child).
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote in 1724 the fourth chorale cantata of his second annual cycle, Ach Herr, mich armen Sünder, BWV 135, on a hymn by Schneegass. For Christmas of that year, Bach composed a chorale cantata Das neugeborne Kindelein, BWV 122, on a hymn with text and probably also the tune by Schneegass.
- "Cyriakus Schneegaß (Composer, Music Theorist, Hymn-Writer)". Bach Cantatas. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- Hammer, Wilhelm (1967). Die Melanchthonforschung im Wandel der Jahrhunderte: ein beschreibendes Verzeichnis. Gütersloher Verlagshaus G. Mohn. p. 187. ISBN 978-3-579-01733-4. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- A. Schumann (1891). Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie / Schneegaß, Cyriacus (in German) 32. Historische Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. pp. 92–96. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- Terry, Charles Sanford (1979). Bach's Chorals. AMS Press. p. 370. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "Das neugeborne Kindelein / Text and Translation of Chorale". bach-cantatas.com. 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2012.