The Importance of the Magdeburg Enchiridion

For nearly 150 years, since Philipp Wackernagel's pioneering study,Citation: 2Wackernagel 1855. the sources of early Lutheran hymnody have been subjected to intensive scholarly scrutiny. Because they have been investigated so thoroughly, it is unusual for a previously unknown or little, known hymnal from this period to come to light. The book that is reproduced here, how, ever, represents just such a case. Since the Enchiridion Geistliker leder vnde Psalmen (Magdeburg: Michael Lotter, 1536) was long in private possession, it is absent from the older studies of early hymnody (by Wackernagel, Geffcken, Bachmann, Wiechmann, and others) and from the standard list of Low German prints (by Borchling and Claussen). In 1962, when it passed from one owner to the next, the Magdeburg Enchiridion was the subject of a short article in the catalog of the antiquarian bookshop that handled its sale.Citation: 3Volz 1962. Shortly thereafter, it was mentioned briefly in the leading hymnological yearbook,Citation: 4Ameln 1964, 232 and it has since appeared in several listings of sixteenth-century prints.Citation: 5Benzing 1966, no. 3680; DKL MagdL 1536; RISM 153602; Jenny 1985, 142. But until now this source has eluded systematic investigation. The purpose of this study and edition is to assess the place of the Magdeburg Enchiridion in the history of Lutheran hymnody and to make it available for further study.

Not every old book is worth reprinting. Why does this volume deserve to become more widely known? First, it is one of the few surviving Low German hymnals dating from Luther's lifetime. Until well into the sixteenth century, Low German (more closely related to English, Dutch, and modern Plattdeutsch than to High German) was the spoken and written language of North Germany.Citation: 6Bosinski 1986, 113. This area included the northern cities of Emden, Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck, and Rostock, and extended as far west as Cologne and as far south as Magdeburg and Wittenberg.Citation: 7Holtz 1980, 17. Since High German apparently was not readily understood in the North, the writings and songs of the Reformation were translated into Low German.Citation: 8Borchling-Claussen 1931-36 lists nearly 5000 Low German prints through the end of the eighteenth century. ln addition to the Bible, Luther's works, and other catechetical and ecclesiastical writings, hymnals began to appear in Low German as early as 1525.Citation: 9Bosinski 1984, 6-7. Although Low German hymnals were quite common in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, only a handful have been preserved (see Appendix 3). The vast majority of these books wore out from constant daily use, were destroyed by enemies of the Reformation,Citation: 10Wiechmann-Kadow 1858, 23-24. or were discarded as Low German gradually was replaced by High German in the first half of the seventeenth century.Citation: 11Citing statistics from Max Lindow's dissertation (“Niederdeutsch als evangelische Kirchensprache im 16. und 17.Jahrhunderts” [Ph.D. diss., University of Greifswald, 1926]), Holtz ( 1980, 60,62) notes that the production of prints in Low German declined sharply beginning in the third decade of the seventeenth century and came to a standstill by the end of the century. The Magdeburg Enchiridion, then, offers a rare glimpse of what was once a flourishing print culture.

Second, this volume is one of the earliest hymnals printed in Magdeburg. This city, the first major free city in North Germany to adopt the ideas of the Reformers,Citation: 12Brandt 1975, vi. had a long and proud association with Martin Luther. In 1497 Luther had been a pupil in the cathedral school, and “he probably sang in the cathedral worship services as a member of the school choir.“Citation: 13Blume 1975, 6. The city chronicle reports that on 6 May 1524 “a poor old man” [ein loser Bettler] stood in the marketplace, and offered for sale and sang two of Luther's earliest hymns, “Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” and “Es wollt uns Gott genädig sein.“Citation: 14Hertel 1899, 143. Bosinski (1971, 65) thinks that they may have been sung in Low German. A High German broadsheet of “Es wollt uns Gott genädig sein,” printed in Magdeburg in 1524 by Hans Knappe, Jr., is preserved in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Berlin. See WA, 376 (ß); Benzing 1966, no. 3643; DKL 1LB1 Luth 1524b ; RILM 152411; Jenny 1985, 139. A facsimile appears in the Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie 3 (1957): facing 104. Before long Luther's song were introduced for daily use in the churches.Citation: 15Brandt 1975, 144. In early June a civic official, Nicolas Sturm, traveled to Wittenberg and invited Luther to visit the city. During his week in Magdeburg Luther preached to large crowds, and by the time he left almost everyone was committed to his ideas. By July Protestant pastors had been installed in the city's churches, and shortly thereafter Luther sent a member of his inner circle, Nicolaus von Amsdorf, to continue the work of the Reformation. Under Amsdorf's leadership Magdeburg was among the first to accept the Augsburg Confession, and it became “the primary bulwark of Lutheranism in Northern Germany.“Citation: 16This account is based on Brandt 1975, 152-53, 158. The quotation is from p. 277. The Enchiridion, containing many hymns by Luther and his circle, documents yet another link between this city and the most prominent German Reformer.

Third, the Magdeburg Enchiridion was published by Michael Lotter, the most important printer of Luther's works in Magdeburg.Citation: 17It is one of Michael Latter's first hymnals. The only one that is older is a version of Joseph Klug's 1529 Wittenberg hymnal that appeared around 1535 and is preserved in a defective copy in Gotha (Benzing 1966, no. 3549). Lotter subsequently published other editions of Klug in 1540 (Benzing 1966, nos. 3553 and 3554 ), 1542-43 (no. 3556) and 1546 (no. 3564). See also WA, 327-29, 333-34. Michael (c. 1499-after 1556) was the third son of Melchior Lotter, Sr. (before 1470-1549), a distinguished printer in Leipzig who published the works of Luther, the early humanists, the classics, and Catholic literature.Citation: 18Benzing 1982, 276. Michael's older brother, Melchior, Jr. (born c. 1490), established the Wittenberg branch of his father's business. Beginning in December 1519, he printed many of the writings of Luther and his circle, including the first edition (1522) of Luther's translation of the New Testament, the so-called September Testament. A dispute with a local bookbinder escalated to the point that eventually he fell out of favor with Luther and the elector, and in the early months of 1525 returned to his father's shop in Leipzig.Citation: 19Ibid., 498. During the summer of 1523 Melchior, Sr. had sent Michael to Wittenberg to assist his brother. For nearly two years the Lotter brother printed both jointly and individually. In 1528 Michael moved his print shop to Magdeburg because there no longer was enough work for him in Wittenberg. Over the next thirty years, several hundred works appeared with his imprint.Citation: 20Ibid., 498, 309.

The Magdeburg Enchiridion is significant not only because it is one of the first hymnals printed by Michael Lotter but also because it is based on a different model than the other extant Low German hymnals. Except for the two earliest (1525 and 1526), almost all of the Low German hymnals printed during Luther's lifetime are editions of the so-called double hymnal, published by Ludwig Dietz in Rostock in 1531 (no. 3 in Appendix 3). By contrast, the Magdeburg Enchiridion is patterned after the first congregational hymnal in Leipzig, published around 1530 by Michael Blum.Citation: 21Hofmann 1914 is a reprint of this book. Volz (1962, lxxx-lxxxiii) adduces the following evidence linking the Magdeburg Enchiridion with Blum's hymnal: 1) similarity between their titles (the Leipzig volume is called “Enchiridion geistlicher gesenge vnd Psalmen fur die leien mit viel andem denn zuuor gebessert. Sampt der Vesper Mettē Comp let vnd Messe."); Lotter, however, reverses the order of Compline and Matins in the title so that they correspond to the actual order of these services within the book; 2) extensive agreement between editorial rubrics and headings of hymns in the two volumes; 3) the first thirty-seven songs are in the same order, and thereafter the differences are easily explained (e.g., Lotter rearranged a group of metrical psalms so that they would be in the correct numerical sequence). Some differences suggest, however, that Lotter made use of another source, too. Apparently he consulted Klug's 1529 hymnal (or an early reprint), since the headings for the old church hymns and the non-Wittenberg songs (which are not in Blum's hymnal) agree with the readings in this book. The Magdeburg Enchiridion contains all but two of the hymns in the Leipzig volume. The two that are missing are the pre-Reformation reworking of the Pange lingua, “Mein zung erkling, vnd frölich sing” (Lotter provides Michael Stiefel's rendering, “Minsche dyn tunge mit gesange schal geuen,” instead) and Hans Sachs's version of Psalm 58, “Wolt jr denn nicht reden ein mal.” In addition to the sixty-one songs that were taken over from Blum's hymnal, Lotter added fourteen new ones, including two from the fifteenth century, three by Sachs, five metrical psalms (by Matthäus Greiter and Wolfgang Dachstein of Strassburg, and the Riga cleric Andreas Knöpken), and two translations of Latin hymns. Though the Rostock and Leipzig hymnals contain roughly the same repertory, the order of the individual songs differs.Citation: 22In the Rostock book and its later editions the hymns are printed according to the systematic ordering of the 1529 Wittenberg hymnal (see Leaver 1991, 281-85); in the Magdeburg and Leipzig Enchiridia, on the other hand, they are given in the more or less random sequence of an earlier Wittenberg source, Johann Walter's Geystlicher gesangk Buchleyn (1524). In this connection, it is worth mentioning that the Magdeburg Enchiridion is listed incorrectly in Benzing's catalog (1966, no. 3680) under “Low German Editions of Klug's Wittenberg Hymnal.” Additional evidence that the Rostock hymnal did not serve as Latter's exemplar is provided by a list of errors that Wiechmann corrected in his reprint (Wiechmann-Kadow 1858, 61-62). Since none is found in the Magdeburg Enchiridion, either Lotter corrected them all or he did not use the Rostock volume. Given the large number of printing errors in the Magdeburg book (such misprints were common and occurred in most books printed in the sixteenth century), surely at least a few of those in Wiechmann's list would have been perpetuated had Lotter worked directly from the Rostock hymnal. Michael Lotter possibly obtained a copy of Blum's book from his father who was still active as a printer in Leipzig during the 1530s.

Finally, the Magdeburg Enchiridion merits closer examination because, in addition to the printed material, its endpapers contain four handwritten hymns. These manuscript entries, mentioned by Volz only in passing,Citation: 23Volz 1962, 125. are transcribed and identified for the first time in Appendix 2. The hymns, apparently penned in the early 1540s, are valuable for the light they shed on the early transmission of this repertory. Furthermore, their orthography, which differs significantly from that of the printed songs, provides important clues concerning the early whereabouts of the book.