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Justus Jonas (Hymn-Writer)

Born: June 5, 1493 - Nordhausen, Thuringia, Germany
Died: October 9, 1555 - Eisfeld, Thuringia, Germany

Among the friends enlisted by Martin Luther as writers for the new hymn-books, the principal were Justus Jonas, who was for many years his colleague in the professorship of theology at Wittenberg; and Paul Eber, who stood in a similar relation to Melancthon.

Justus Jonas was the son of the burgomaster of Nordhausen, a clever young lawyer, who very early became professor of jurisprudence at Erfurt and a friend of Erasmus and Martin Luther. So close was his intimacy with the latter, that he accompanied him to Worms, an act for which he was deprived of his salary as professor. Martin Luther then induced him to study divinity and take orders, and for many years the two men lived in constant association at Wittenberg; Justus Jonas accompanied his friend on his last journey, stood by his death-bed, and with many tears preached his funeral sermon. Martin Luther's death was followed, as he had himself foretold, by troubles and strife.

Justus Jonas, who was not merely a good theologian, but a skilful jurist, naturally had to take part in all the many discussions and conferences in which the evangelical doctrine gradually assumed definite form and consistency, and the legal and political rights of its adherents were ascertained and asserted; and of course he had to bear his share of the difficulties in which he was thus involved. On one occasion a Spanish officer quartered in his house received a large bribe to assassinate him, but was so much impressed by the piety, integrity, and kindness of his intended victim, that he confessed his purpose to him, and entreated forgiveness. Yet on his deathbed this well-proved servant of Christ suffered much from mental doubts and conflicts, until at last peace returned, and he fell asleep "as a tired soldier."

What he did for hymnology was to help Martin Luther in preparing metrical German versions of the Psalms, choosing by preference, as one can well understand, those which speak of David's sufferings from his enemies, and his trust in God's deliverance.

Source: CCEL Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2003, June 2013)

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

BWV 178, BWV 258

Chorale Melodies used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort (Stanzas 4-5)


Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält (Psalm 124)



Links to other Sites

Justus Jonas (CCEL)




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