Erfurt Enchiridion

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Title page of the Loersfeld edition
The song "Jesus Christus unser Heiland" (Jesus Christ, our saviour) by Martin Luther after Jan Hus, titled "Ein Lobgesang auf dem Osterfest" (A song of praise on the Easter feast)

The Erfurt Enchiridion (Ancient Greek: ἐγχειρίδιον, hand book) is one of the first Lutheran hymnals. It appeared in 1524 in Erfurt in two competing editions. One of them contains 26 songs, the other 25, 18 of them by Martin Luther, others by Elisabeth Cruciger, Erhard Hegenwald, Justus Jonas and Paul Speratus. While the songs of the Enchiridion could be used in churches, they were intended primarily for singing elsewhere, such as at home, at court, and in guild meetings.

History[edit]

The songs of the reformer Luther and others were first sold as broadsheets, and contributed to the spreading of Protestant ideas. They were printed in collections, beginning with the First Lutheran hymnal, called the Achtliederbuch, and with the Wittenberg song book, both published in 1524. The Erfurt Enchiridion appeared the same year, in two almost equal editions by two different printers, Johannes Loersfeld and Matthes Maler.[1] Both books are identical except for one song. The double appearance suggests that there was a great demand. Probably the edition printed by Loersfeld came first, to be copied by Maler.[2]

Description[edit]

The version of Loersfeld was printed in octavo, and includes 48 pages, 47 of them printed. It contains 25 songs, the German version of the creed and a two-page anonymous preface. The version of Maler contains one song less. Sixteen different choral melodies are used, and eighteen of the songs are by Luther, but his name is attached to only one of them. Three of the hymns were written by Paul Speratus, one or two by Justus Jonas, one by Elisabeth Cruciger, and one is attributed to Jan Hus.[2] The arrangement of the songs is not systematic, and only seven paraphrases of psalms form a cohesive group. Five songs are German rhymed versions of Latin liturgical chants. The song "Ein neues Lied wir heben an" (A new song we begin) describes the execution in Brussels of two monks who were martyrs of the Reformation, Hendrik Vos and Johannes van Esschen.

The title describes: "Eyn Enchiridion oder Handbüchlein. eynem ytzlichen Christen fast nutzlich bey sich zuhaben / zur stetter vbung vnd trachtung geystlicher gesenge vnd Psalmen / Rechtschaffen vnd kunstlich verteutscht." (An Enchiridion or little handbook. for a present day Christian quite useful to have with him / for continuous practice and contemplation of spiritual songs and psalms / skillfully and artfully translated to German.)[3]

The author of the preface describes the former ecclesiastical chant as "shouting like the priests of Baal in unclear cries" and "cry like the forest-donkeys to a deaf God".[3] The songs included in the collection are described as founded on scripture, serving improvement, doctrine, and the education of youth, and the preface suggests that a Christian should always carry the book with him, for constant practise.[2] While the songs of the Enchiridion could be used in churches, they were intended primarily for singing elsewhere, such as at home, at court, and in guild meetings.[4]

Many of the songs of the Erfurt Enchiridion were widely disseminated, and seventeen are still in the current German Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch, some of them now with different melodies. Five of the hymns are part of the Catholic hymnal Gotteslob (de).[3]

Translations began with Goostly psalms and spiritual songes drawen out of the holy Scripture by Myles Coverdale, the so-called "first English hymn book", which was printed in London in 1555 and contained 16 of the songs from the Enchiridion (1–5, 8, 10, 12–19, 22).[3]

Hymns[edit]

Number Title Author Note
1 Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot Martin Luther
2 Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein Martin Luther in Achtliederbuch
3 Es ist das Heil uns kommen her Paul Speratus in Achtliederbuch
4 Mitten wir im Leben sind Martin Luther after Media vita in morte sumus
5 In Gott gelaub ich, daß er hat Paul Speratus in Achtliederbuch
6 Hilf Gott, wie ist der Menschen Not Paul Speratus in Achtliederbuch
7 Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeiet Martin Luther not in the Maler edition
8 Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ Martin Luther
9 Ich glaube an einen Gott Apostles' Creed
10 Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn Elisabeth Cruciger
11 Jesus Christus unser Heiland Martin Luther after Jan Hus
12 Wohl dem, der in Gottes Furcht steht Martin Luther after Psalm 127
13 Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein Martin Luther after Psalm 11, in Achtliederbuch
14 Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält Justus Jonas after Psalm 124
15 Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl Martin Luther after Psalm 13, in Achtliederbuch
16 Es wollt uns Gott genädig sein Martin Luther after Psalm 66
17 Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir Martin Luther after Psalm 130, "De profundis", in Achtliederbuch
18 Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott Erhard Hegenwald after Psalm 51 "Miserere"
19 Christ lag in Todesbanden Martin Luther
20 Jesus Christus unser Heiland Martin Luther
21 Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland Martin Luther after Veni redemptor gentium by Ambrose
22 Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott Martin Luther after "Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium"
23 Christum wir sollen loben schon Martin Luther after A solis ortus cardine
24 Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist Martin Luther after Veni Creator Spiritus
25 Ein neues Lied wir heben an Martin Luther
26 In Jesu Nam'n heben wir an unknown in Achtliederbuch, possibly by Jonas

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Brodersen, Christiane; Brodersen, Kai (April 2008). "The Erfurt Enchiridion: A Hymn Book of 1524 (with English language translations)". Kartoffeldruck-Verlag. ISBN 978-3939526049. 
  • Hase, Martin von (1956). "Die Drucker der Erfurter Enchiridien, Mathes Maler u. Johannes Loersfelt in Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie" (in German). pp. 91–93. 
  • Smend, Julius (1924). Die evangelische Lied von 1524: Festschrift zum 400-jährigen Gesangbuch-Jubiläum (in German). Leipzig.