Knapp, Albert

Knapp, Albert a German theologian, and one of the ablest workers in the Wirtemberg Church of the 19th century, peculiarly distinguished for his poetical gifts and influence in establishing a school of religious poetry, was born in Tungen July 25,1798. His childhood was passed in the village of Alpirsbach, under the old 11th-century Benedictine cloister, and he enjoyed the careful instruction of Handel. afterward pastor at Stammhelm. Night and day he dreamed poetry. His university studies, upon which he entered in 1816, were rather poetic than theological; the authorities did not restrain his choice, and for that he always expressed his gratitude. In 1820 he was established vicar near Stuttgard, and here, through intercourse with the pious Wilhelm Hofacker (q.v.), he received that deep religious impression which ever after characterized his work. In 1831 he became deacon at Kirchheim, where, at the instance of a friend, he began the publication of the Christoterpe, an annual which contained religious selections from various eminent authors, was popular, and often sought as a Christmas gift in families, but ceased with the year 1853. In 1836 he was made pastor at Stuttgard, and labored there with great zeal for the cause of his Master, exercising a large influence until his death, June 18, 1864. The prayer expressed in one of his best hymns was answered: "Grant me one thing here below-thy Spirit and thy peace, and the honor in my grave of having known thy love." Albert Knapp is chiefly known by his religious poems, and as the best of these may be pointed out his Christliche Gedichte (in 2 vols. Stuttg. 1829; 3d ed. Basle, 1843), Herbstbluthen (1859), and Christoterpe, already referred to. To the hymnology of the Church Knapp rendered special service in preserving, in the revision of the Church hymn-book, many forgotten treasures. His Liedersclhatz, generally acknowledged to be one of the most valuable collections of Christian hymns of all ages, was first published in 1837 (2d ed. 1850, 2 vols. 8vo), and the Evangelische Gesanybuch in 1855. His avowed principle of modernizing obsolete forms in the old hymns was sharply assailed, and he himself restored at a later dav some of the original expressions. As a preacher the manifold richness of his thought and delicacy of diction was his attraction. He did not suffer himself to appear the poet in his sermons, never having once so used a poem of his own, nor even having appointed one of his own hymns to be sung, yet no one could listen to him without acknowledging a rare union of extensive learning with original genius. His singular merit as a hymnmaker remains, notwithstanding a haste of composition and lightness of tone in some of his poems, and although the subjective individuality of the author, according to the spirit of the times, often characterizes his weightier pieces, yet his individuality is one of simple faith. In theology he was fully evangelical in his doctrine of salvation, which he defended not in mere polemic, but in heart-devotion against all opposers. See his preface to the Christoterpe of 1846 for a statement of his belief. He grounded all defence of doctrine upon the necessities and joyful faith of spiritual experience, and severely condemned a merely external method and the zeal of argumentative orthodoxy. He had no sympathy with sects as such. Knapp's biographical contributions in the Christoterpe are of great interest and beauty; we name that on his own " Childhood Days" in the issue of 1849, on Ludwig Hofacker (1848), Hedinger (1836), Steinhofer (1837), Jacob Balde (1848), Jeremias Flatt (1852). The writer's poetic humor and narrative power, joined with love for his theme, make these sketches perfect artworks. Dr. Friederich Wilhelm Krummacher, in his autobiography (translated by Easton, Edinb. 1869, 8vo, p. 203, 204), pays the following tribute to the high poetical talents of our subject: "That in Albert Knapp there was a true poetic inborn genius no one will seriously deny, and yet he is not generally mentioned in our recent histories of literature as ranked among the ' Suabian poets,' although, without doubt, he would have been named among them, and in the very foremost rank, had he consecrated his harp to the spirit of the world instead of seeking all his inspiration from the Spirit of God; but worldly fame, to which the way and the door stood wide open for him, he gladly cast at his feet, and recognised it as his calling, as it indeed was the impulse of his heart, to sing the praises of the heavenly Prince of Peace. through whom he knew he was redeemed and ordained 'to the inheritance of the saints in light.' Instead of worldly fame, there was destined for him, so long as a Church of Christ shall remain on earth, the glorious reward of God, that his Eines wiinsch ich mir vor allem Anderl, his Ani deien Bluten und Erbleichen, his Abend ist es, Iterr, die Stunde, and many others of his hymns, will never cease to be sung in it. We bless him in the name of many thousands to whom the melodies of his harp, breathing peace and joy, have lightened their steps on the way to the city of God, and we hope that the people of Stuttgard may long refresh themselves at the 'streams of living water' which, according to the word of the Lord, yet flow for them to this hour from the life and labors of their highly-gifted pastor." See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 19:s.v.

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