Martinus von Biberach

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Magister Martinus von Biberach (German: [fɔn ˈbiːbəʀax] (listen); died 1498) was a theologian from Heilbronn, Germany. He is mostly remembered because of a priamel that has allegedly been his epitaph.


Ich leb und ich waiß nit, wie lang
Ich stirb und waiß nit wann
Ich far und waiß nit, wahin
Mich wundert, daß ich froelich bin.

I live and don't know how long,
I'll die and don't know when,
I am going and don't know where,
I wonder that I am happy.


While the attribution of the poem to Biberach is controversial, it has been cited and modified widely. Martin Luther in particular took issue with it, offering a contrary version in a sermon on John 8:46-59 for Judica Sunday: Ich lebe, so lang Gott will, / ich sterbe, wann und wie Gott will, / ich fahr und weiß gewiß, wohin, / mich wundert, daß ich traurig bin![1]


  1. ^ I am living as long God wants, / I'll die when and how God wants, / I am going and certainly know where,
    I wonder that I am sad.
    Martin Luther, Gesammelte Werke, hg. von Kurt Aland, Bd. 8, S. 153 = Weimarer Ausgabe Bd. 37, S. 328 f.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gerd Dicke: Mich wundert, das ich so fröhlich bin. Ein Spruch in Gebrauch, In: Kleinstformen der Literatur, hg. v. Walter Haug u. Burghart Wachinger, Tübingen 1994 (Fortuna vitrea 14), S._56-90. ISBN 3-484-15514-0 ISSN 0938-9660