Joachim Magdeburg was a German theologian and poet. He had a very chequered career, not only because of the Counter-Reformation but also because during the post-Reformation confessional conflicts between Protestants he steadfastly adhered to Flacianism, the strictest form of Lutheranism; his deeply conscientious nature impelled him constantly to stand up for his religious convictions in an uncompromising way. He studied at the University of Wittenberg from 1544.
In 1546 Joachim Magdeburg was made Rector of Schöningen, near Brunswick, but was soon expelled by the Catholics. A series of similarly short-lived posts followed; between 1547 and 1585 he was compelled by his extreme religious position to move at least ten times. He was and pastor in Dannenberg, and in 1549 at Salzwedel, Altmark. In this year he allied himself with Flacius in an attack upon the Catholic Church. He refused to adopt the ceremonies of Rome prescribed in the Interim and was banished in 1552. By gaining the friendship of Superintendent Johann Aepinus, he became in 1552 the diaconus of St. Peter’s in Hamburg.
Joachim Magdeburg was a close friend and follower of the talented and warmhearted Lutheran theologian and historian, Flacius. In collaboration with Flacius, Magdeburg published the well-known historical work The Magdeburg Centuries. He served as pastor in various places, but met with many difficulties. During the violent and acrimonious doctrinal controversies which centered about his leader, he also made many bitter enemies. Repeatedly he was compelled to discontinue his work, partly because of conflicts with the Catholics, and partly on account of differences as to doctrine. Finally he succeeded in finding a permanent position. He was made chaplain under the Austrian Commander at Raab in Hungary. In 1571 he was at Erfurt. In 1581 he was appointed pastor of Efferding in Austria, where he remained until 1583, when he had to give up his work there also. By 1585 he was at Iserlohn, Westphalia, whence he was prevented from returning to Essen. His final recorded place of residence was Cologne, whose Lutheran community had repeatedly provided him with support. The story of his later life is not known.
In addition to a number of theological works, Joachim Magdeburg published one musical work, Christliche und tröstliche Tischgesenge (Erfurt, 1572), which has a characteristically intransigent preface (there are four melodies in ZahnM and several texts in G. von Tucher: Schatz des evangelischen Kirchengesangs, i, Leipzig, 1848, and in P. Wackernagel: Das deutsche Kirchenlied, iii, Leipzig, 1870). It is a small collection, published in partbooks and containing one three-part and two four-part songs for each day of the week with the cantus firmus in the soprano or tenor. Their sources are unknown, except for the four-part piece Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit, which originated over 40 years earlier as Claudin’s chanson Il me suffit. The words of the first verse of Wer Gott vertraut, hat wohl gebaut are by Magdeburg himself, and he must certainly have written other texts in the collection. Whether he wrote any of the music is as yet unknown. Two similar works are attributed to Magdeburg in Michael Praetorius’s Musae Sioniae … achter Theil (1610¹²; ed. in Michael Praetorius: Gesamptausgabe, viii, Wolfenbüttel, 1932).
By 1670 Sebastian Knüpfer had developed a standard design for the central German cantata in which several movements, each unified within itself and strongly contrasting with adjacent movements, were symmetrically disposed according to scoring, metre and texture (see his Was mein Gott will).