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Martin Moller (Hymn-Writer)

Born: November 10, 1547 - Ließnitz (now Kropstädt, near Wittenberg), Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Died: March 2, 1606 - Görlitz, Lower Silesia, Germany

Martin Moller [Möller] was a German mystic and hymn writer. He is valid as a co-founder to Protestant ones Devotional literature.


Martin Moller visited the town school in Wittenberg from 1560 to 1566. In 1566 he came on the high school founded anew in Görlitz where he received an intensive humanistic and theological education after the principles Philipp Melanchthons from his first rector Peter Vincentius and his colleagues Laurentius Ludovicus.

Poverty prevented Martin Moller from obtaining the necessary preparation at a university. However, through his teacher Ludovicu he became in 1568 a choirmaster and preacher in the Silesian Löwenberg. In 1572 he received a Pastorat in the neighbouring Kesseldorf. With this first appeal he was ordained, like then commonly, automatically in Wittenberg. Moller received in 1575 the Pastorat in Sprottau and accepted, finally, in 1600 an appeal as a main pastor in the Peter and Paul church in Görlitz. The lacking formal theology study was valid for the advice of the town as unessential, because he has learnt the reason of the apprenticeship and studies.

However, already in the first year of his Görlitz activity Martin Moller was dragged onto the debate around the Silesian Kryptocalvinismus. In particular Salomon Gesner attacked him hard. In his warning to them … Common people in Silesia, them for tearing Calvi niches … Irrthumben … want to intend (1601) Gesner just aapearted to attack sharply Moller’s main work Practise Evangeliorum. Moller answered in the subsequent year with his Apologia (1602). Indeed, Moller felt obliged to the Philippismus and denied itself in the second half of the 16th century starting Lutheran-confessional narrow guidance of the reforming theology.

Martin Moller already went blind few years after his assumption of office to Peter and Paul's church and passed away in 1606 at the age of 59 in Görlitz. Jakob Böhme was in his congregation there, and was a keen attendant at the devotional meetings Moller held at his house. It is interesting to note that only after Moller's death did Böhme start coming into conflict with the Görlitz priesthood, including with Moller’s office successor Gregorius Richter (1560-1624).


Martin Moller wrote and had published various devotional treatises, in part building upon older sources (St. Augustine, etc.) His works characterise him as a conciliatory theologian rather than one who, like Böhme, looked to provoke conflict. Practical Christianity, not dogma, was important to him. As such, he can be regarded as a forerunner of Johann Arndt. Moller was suspected of Crypto-Calvinist sympathies after publishing his Praxis evangeliorum in 1601 and did little to refute these claims. Other well-known works of devotional literature written by Moller include Meditationes Sanctorum Patrum (1584-1591), Soliloquia de passione Jesu Christi (1587) and Mysterium magnum (1597). All of these works show clearly how Moller was influenced by another German theologian with links to mysticism, Valerius Herberger.

Martin Moller also wrote several hymns, four of which survive in today's German Protestant hymnals. He is, however, of greater importance as a source for other hymn-writers. His Meditationes Sanctorum Patrum, a bipartite collection of prayers purportedly based on writings of Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux and Anselm of Canterbury (though actually these texts were probably pseudo-Augustinian and -Bernardian, written much later in the style of the Church Fathers), provided Johann Heermann with a basis for many of the hymns in his Devoti musica cordis. J.S. Bach used several hymns by Moller in his church cantatas, some in different settings.


The list of the printings appeared in the German linguistic area of the 16th century (VD 16) lists a total of 30 entries to Martin Moller, under it:

MEDITATIONES sanctorum Patrum. Clarify, Andechtige prayer, cheering sayings, God-blest Gedancken … From the heyligen old fathers: Augustino, Bernhardo, Taulero, vnd to others, diligently … amassedly vnd verdeutschet. (Görlitz: 1st Part 1584, 2nd part 1591; and many other editions)
Manuals De praeparatione ad mortem. Heylsame vnd very useful consideration, how a Christian person from God's word sol learn to live Like a Christian, die vnd Seliglich (Görlitz, 1593)

Other, after 1600 appeared titles (see VD 17:

Practise Evangeliorum. Einfeltige erklerung and useful consideration of the Gospels, thus auff all Sontage and vornemesten party Yearly are prescribed to preach: For everybody frome Hertzen which seclude themselves in the current last times from the ungodly WeltLaufft and wait auff the appearance unsers Mr. Jesus with Frewden. (Devotional book in four volumes) (Görlitz, 1601)
Kurtze Apologia and responsibility of several little Teaching and consolation pieces, thus by Doctore Salomone Gesnero, professor to Wittenberg, in new außgangen beech, practise Evangeliorum genandt, are treated with hostility and are held suspicious. (Görlitz 1602)
Thesaurus precationum: Pious prayer, and cheering Seufftzen, from the well-arranged Sontages and party bring Gospels, darinnen the vornembsten apprenticeships unnd consolation, according to the text with, pulled for the right custom, and beside the Heyligen father ours and psalms, daily with big one is of use can be used; with a well-arranged register. (Görlitz 1603)


Source: Unknown sources; Encyclopedia Encydia Website; Wikipedia Website (December 2010)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (October 2005); Aryeh Oron (January 2011);

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

BWV 3, BWV 44, BWV 58, BWV 90, BWV 101, BWV 153

Chorale Texts used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid



Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott



Links to other Sites

Martin Moller (Wikipedia)

Martin Moller (Encyclopedia Encydia)


Elke Axmacher: Praxis Evangeliorum: Theologie und Frömmigkeit bei Martin Moller (1547–1606). (Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte, 43) (Berlin: Kirchliche Hochschule, 1986; Göttingen 1989)
Carl Hitzeroth: Johann Heermann (1585-1647): Ein Beitrag der Geschichte der geistlichen Lyrik im siebzehnten Jahrhundert (Marburg: Elwert, 1907)
Carl-Alred Zell: Untersuchungen zum Problem der geistlichen Barocklyrik mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Dichtung Johann Heermanns (1585-1647) (Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, 1971)

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