Nikolaus Decius

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Nikolaus Decius (c. 1485 – 21 March 1541[1] (others say 1546[2]) ) was a German monk, hymn-writer and composer.

He was probably born in Hof in Upper Franconia, Bavaria, around 1485. He studied at the University of Leipzig and obtained a masters degree at Wittenburg University in 1523 and became a monk.[3] Although a monk, he was an advocate of the Protestant Reformation and a disciple of Martin Luther.[3] He was Probst of the cloister at Steterburg from 1519 until July 1522 when he was appointed a master in the St. Katherine and Egidien School in Braunschweig.[1][4] He wrote in 1523 for Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, adapted by Luther in 1525, a German paraphrase of the Latin Gloria.[5] Decius's version was first sung on Easter Day at Braunschweig on 5 April 1523.[6] Decius's Low German version first appeared in print in Gesang Buch by Joachim Sluter, printed in 1525.[6]

In 1526, Decius became preacher at the Church of St. Nicholas in Stettin at the same time as Paulus von Rhode was appointed preacher at St. Jacob's in Stettin.[1] In 1535 he became pastor of St. Nicholas and died there in March 1541 after a suspected poisoning.[1] Shortly before his death he wrote the hymn "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" (O Lamb of God, innocent) sung on a tune from the 13th century. Decius's version was first published in Anton Cornivus's Christliche Kirchen-Ordnung in 1542.[3] Johann Sebastian Bach used it as a cantus firmus in the opening chorus of his St Matthew Passion. It was translated into English by Arthur Tozer Russell in the 19th century.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d "Nikolaus Decius (Hymn-Writer, Composer)". Bach Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Fornacon, Siegfried (1957). "Decius, Nikolaus. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB).". Band 3, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin. p. 542. 
  3. ^ a b c d McKim, LindaJo K. (1 June 1993). The Presbyterian hymnal companion. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-664-25180-2. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Goltz, Georg Friedrich Gottlob (1843). Ausführliche erklärung einiger der vorzüglichsten evangelischen kirchenlieder für schule und haus. T. Scherk. p. 201. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Leahy, Anne (16 October 2011). J. S. Bach's "Leipzig" Chorale Preludes: Music, Text, Theology. Scarecrow Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-8108-8181-5. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Glover, Raymond F. (February 1995). The Hymnal 1982 companion. Church Publishing, Inc. p. 789. ISBN 978-0-89869-143-6. Retrieved 3 April 2012.