Neander, Joachim

Neander, Joachim a German Reformed minister, noted as the first and the best of the hymn- writers of the Reformed Church, and also as a participant in the Labadistic movement, was born at Bremen, probably about 1650. He studied theology in the high school of Bremen, where he became acquainted with and adopted the principles of Untereyk. In his early career as a student he was wild and careless, and much given to jesting about religious matters. Thus one day he and two of his comrades went into St. Martin's Church, with the intention of making a jest of the service, but the sermon touched his conscience so deeply that he determined to visit the preacher in private, and from that time he began to lead a more circumspect life. His love of the chase, however, still clung to him; and oln one occasion he followed his game on foot so far that night came on and he utterly lost his way among rocky and woody hills, where the climbing was difficult even in daylight. He wandered about for some time, and suddenly discovered that he was in a most dangerous position, and that one step forward would have thrown him over a precipice. A feeling of horror came over him that almost deprived him of the power of motion; and in this extremity he prayed earnestly to God for help, vowing an entire devotion of himself to his service in the future. All at once Neander's courage returned; he felt as if a hand were leading him, and, following the path thus indicated, he at length reached his home in safety. From that day he kept his vow, and a complete change took place in his mode of life. From Bremen Neander went to continue his studies for the ministry at Heidelberg; and upon the completion of his university course visited with classmates at Frankfort-on- the-Main, where he made the acquaintance of the Pietists who flourished there at that time under the leadership of the noted Spener, with whom Neander formed a warm friendship which lasted through life. In 1674 Neander was made rector of the Latin school at Dusseldorf, and he distinguished himself greatly by his success both as a teacher and a preacher. His zeal and his Labadistic tendencies, however, carried him too far, and in 1676 he was dismissed from the school, as well as forbidden to preach until he should make reparation. As he refused to comply with the demand of the school authorities he was obliged to quit the town, and though his pupils loved him so dearly that he could have held his place by encouraging them to insubordinate measures, he counselled submission and left the place. It was summer time, and, feeling himself utterly friendless, he wandered out to a deep and beautiful glen near Mettmann on the Rhine, and there he lived for some months in a cavern which is still known by the name of "Neander's Cave." It was during the period of this retreat that the greater part of his hymns were written. Finally, on February 17, 1677, he signed a confession of his errors, condemning the schism of the Labadists, and all reunion held without the participation of the ministers and elders. He rose at once in popular favor, and shortly after his return to Bremen, in 1679, was made third pastor of St. Martin's — the very church he had once entered in mockery; but he only preached there one year, and died at Easter in 1680. Neander's hymns, 71 in number, appeared for the first time in 1679, under the title, Au. Ω, Joachim Neanders Glaub- u. Liebesubung, augemuntert durch einfaltige Bundeslieder u. Dankpsalmen, etc. Some of them were first introduced in the Darmstadt Hymn-book in 1698, and approved of afterwards in the syiods of Julich, Cleve, and Berg in 1731, and of Mark in 1734. Some of them had been set to music composed by Neander himself. Neander's style in his hymns is unequal; occasional harshness contrasts with fine musical lines, but there is a glow, a sweetness, and a depth about his hymns that have made many of them justly and lastingly popular among the German people. See Max Gobel, Geschichte d. christl. Lebens i. d. rheinisch-westphalischen Kiche; Kohlmann, Joachim Neander, s. Herkommen u.s. Geburtsjahr, in the Reform. Kirchenzeitung (1856); Reitz, Historie d. Wiedergeborenen; Winterfeld, Evangelischer Kirchengesang; Koch, Gesch. des Kirchen- Liedes; Winkworth, Christian Singers of Germany pages 284-288; Saunders, Evenings with the Sacred Poets, pages 112-115.

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