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Paul Eber (Hymn-Writer)

Born: November 8, 1511 - Kitzingen, Lower Franconia, Germany
Died: December 10, 1569 - Wittenberg, Saxony Germany

Paul Eber was the son of a poor tailor, a small delicate child, whose love of books induced his father to stint himself even in food, in order to send the boy to the Grammar School of Nuremberg, one of the first schools into which the reformed doctrine had penetrated. Paul Eber left home in 1523 to attend the Gymnasium in Ansbach. Being forced by illness to return home, he was thrown from horseback and dragged more than a mile; he was deformed for the rest of his life. In 1525, he entered the St. Lorentz school at Nürnberg, under Joachim Camerarius. Eber at once imbibed its spirit, and as soon as he was old enough, in 1532, went to Wittenberg to sit at Martin Luther's feet. Attracted by his thoughtfulness and purity of manners, Luther invited him to his table, where he met Philipp Melanchthon (Schwarzert), who was a close associate of Luther, and as the lad wrote a remarkably clear and delicate hand, while Melancthon wrote a particularly bad one, the latter took him for his amanuensis. From this time they lived on terms of the closest intimacy, so that Luther used to call him "Philip's familiar," and "Philip's treasury."

After graduating from University of Wittenberg in 1536, Eber became a tutor in the Philosophical Faculty at the University of Wittenberg. He was appointed professor of Latin in 1544, but this later was expanded to include physics and Old Testament; then in 1557 he was appointed professor of Hebrew and castle preacher, and in 1558 town preacher and General Superintendent of the Electorate, receiving his D.D. degree from the University in 1559. In Wittenberg he also married a wife whom Melancthon chose for him, with whom he lived most happily. But in the theological disputes of those days he, like many others of Melancthon's special followers, was accused of concealed Calvinism, and bitterly attacked; and finally, at the conference of Altenburg, in 1569, he was named among those who were excluded on this ground from the Lord's Table and the privilege of becoming sponsors. He went home in cold March weather, wounded to the heart by this intolerance; his health gave way, and the death of his wife, which occurred unexpectedly about this time, was his own deathblow. He died in 1569.

Eber's hymns have a tone of tenderness and pathos about them, which is much less characteristic of this period than the grave, manly trustfulness of Martin Luther and Justus Jonas. But they soon became very widely known, and in the following age, that of the Thirty Years' War, few hymns were more constantly used both in public and private.

Source: Cyber Hymnal Website; CCEL Website; Thomas Braatz (November 2004)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2003, November 2004); Thomas Braatz (November 2004)

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

BWV 16, BWV 28, BWV 127, BWV 130, BWV 431, BWV 432

Chorale Texts used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott


Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen



Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir



Links to other Sites

Paul Eber (Cyber Hymnal)

Paul Eber (CCEL)



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Bach & Other Composers


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