|Short Name:||Wolfgang Christoph Dessler|
|Full Name:||Dessler, Wolfgang Christoph, 1660-1722|
Dessler, Wolfgang Christoph, son of Nicolaus Dessler, jeweller, at Nürnberg, was born at Nürnberg, Feb. 11, 1660. His father wished him to become a goldsmith, but, as he was not physically suited for this, he was permitted to begin the study of theology at the University of Altdorf. His poverty and bodily weakness forced him to leave before completing his course, and, returning to Nurnberg, he supported himself there as a proof reader. Becoming acquainted with Erasmus Finx or Francisci, then residing in Nürnberg, he was employed by Finx as his amanuensis, and at his request translated many foreign religious works into German. In 1705 he was appointed Conrector of the School of the Holy Ghost at Nürnberg, where he laboured with zeal and acceptance till
1720, when, by a stroke of paralysis, he was forced to resign. Finally, after an illness which lasted about 35 weeks, he died at Nürnberg, March 11,1722. Of his hymns, in all over 100, the best appeared, many with melodies by himself, in his volume of meditations entitled:—
Gottgeheiligter Christen Nützlich Ergetzende Seelenlust unter den Blumen Gottliches Worts, oder andächtige Betrachtungen und Gedanken über unterschiedliche erläuterte Schriftspruche, &c. Nürnberg, 1692 [Berlin] (Koch, iii. 531-535, and iv. 566-567).
From this work (the references to which have been kindly supplied by Dr. Zahn of Altdorf, from his copy), five hymns have been translated into English, viz.:—
Hymns in English common use:—
i. Ich lass dich nicht, du musst mein Jesus bleiben. [Constancy to Christ.] Founded on Genesis xxxii. 36. First published 1692, as above, p. 553, along with Meditation xviii., which is entitled "The striving love." Wetzel (A. H., vol. i., pt. iv., p. 20) says it was sung, at her re¬quest, Sept. 5, 1726, at the deathbed of Christiana Eberhardina, a pious Queen of Poland. In the Berlin Geistliche LiedersegenI will not let Thee go, Thou Help in time of need, a fine translation, beginning with stanzas iv. ("Ich lass dich nicht, du Hülf in alien Nothen"), and adding trs. of stanzas v., ix., by Miss Winkworth, in the 1st ser., 1855, of her Lyra Germanica, p. 59. Thence as No. 851 in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1875; No. 205 in the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876; No. 139 in the Canadian Presbyterian Hymn Book, 1880.
Another translation is, “I leave Thee not, Thou art my Jesus ever," by Dr. J. W. Alexander, first published in Dr. Schaff's Kirchenfreund, 1851, p. 140 (reprinted in the Christian Treasury, Edin. 1851, p. 378), and included in his The Breaking Crucible, &c, N. Y., 1861, p. 19. In Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 555.
ii. Mein Jesu dem die Seraphinen. [Ascension.] Founded on Jeremiah x. 7. 1st published 1692, as above, p. 348, along with Meditation xii., which is entitled "Christ's kingly and unapproachable glory.”* Thence as No. 278 in Freylinghausen's Gesang-Buch, 1704, and recently as No. 422 in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, in 8 stanzas of 8 lines. Translated as:—
1. Jesu, Whose glory's streaming rays, a spirited tr., omitting stanzas vii.. viii., by J. Wesley, in Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1739 (Poetical Works, 1868-72, vol. i. p. 89). In the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1780, stanzas i.-iii. were included as No. 129 (ed. 1875, No. 133), and stanzas iv:-vi., beginning "Into Thy gracious hands I fall," as No. 188 (ed. 1875," No. 196). Recently the first part has been given in America as No. 64 in H. L. Hastings' Hymnal, 1880, and the second as No. 496 in the Methodist Episcopal Hymn Book, 1849, and as No. 464 in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868.
2. O Jesu, Lord, enthroned in glory, a good translation of stanzas i., ii., v., by A. T. Russell, as No. 199 in his Psalms & Hymns., 1851.
3. My Jesus, Whom the seraph host, a good and full translation by R. Massie, for the 1857 ed. of Mercer's Church Psalm & Hymn Book, No. 135 (omitted in Ox. ed.), reprinted in the translator's Lyra Domestica, 1864, p. 129.
4. My Jesus, if the seraphim, a good and full translation by Miss Winkworth in the 2nd series of her Lyra Germanica, 1858, p. 50; and thence, unaltered, in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 342. In her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 67, stanzas iv.7 vii., were omitted, and the rest altered in metre; and thence as No. 141 in J. L. Porter's Collection, 1876.
Other translation are: (i) “O Jesu! 'fore whose radiation," by J. Gambold, as No. 623 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754 (1886, No. 312). (2) "My Saviour, whom in heavenly places," in J. Sheppard's Foreign Sacred Lyre, 1857, p. 78.
iii. Wie wohl ist mir, O Freund der Seelen. [The Love of Christ.] Founded on Canticles viii. 5. First published 1692, as above, p. 154, along with Meditation vi., which is entitled "The penitential forsaking and embracing." Included as No. 451 in Freylinghausen's Gesang-Buch, 1704, and recently as No. 438 in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, in 6 stanzas of 10 lines. Lauxmann, in Koch, viii., 243, says of it:—
"This hymn dates from the period when Dessler as a youth was residing in his native town of Nürnberg in ill health. He had given up the occupation of gold¬smith and set himself to study at Altdorf, but lack of money and of health compelled him to abandon this also. He then maintained himself as a proof reader in his native town, became the spiritual son and scholar in poesy of Erasmus Francisci, in whose powerful faith he found nourishment in his sorrows. Through his linguistic attainments, as well as through his hymns, he furthered the edification of the Christian populace; and what he here sung may have afforded stimulus to himself in the still greater troubles which he afterwards had to endure during his conrectorship, and finally in his last thirty-five weeks illness."
Fischer (ii. 391) calls it—
"One of the finest hymns of Pietism, that has produced many blessed effects, and has been the model and incitement to many hymns of like character."
It is translated as:—
1. How well am I, Thou my soul's lover, in full as No. 621 in pt. i. of the Moravian Hymn Book, 1754. Greatly altered, and omitting stanzas ii., v., as No. 295 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789, beginning, "How blest am I, most gracious Saviour," and continued thus in later eds. In 1840 Dr. Martineau included a hymn in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, beginning, "What comforts, Lord, to those are given," as No. 294 in his Hymns, &c. (ed. 1873, No. 384). Of this stanzas i., ii. are based on stanza i., stanza iii. on stanza ii., and stanza iv. on stanza iii. of the 1789.
2. O Lord, how happy is the time, a somewhat free tr. of stanzas i.-v., with stanzas i., slightly varied, repeated as stanza vi., by Greville Matheson. Contributed to the Hymns & Sacred Songs, Manchester, 1855 (ed. 1856, No. 226), repeated in the Sunday Magazine, 1872, p. 741, and in Dr. G. Macdonald's Threefold Cord, 1883, p. 38. In the Hymns for the Sick Room, N. Y., 1859 (1861, p. 70), and Hymns of the Ages, 3rd Series, Boston, U.S., 1864, p. 233, it is considerably altered. This text is given in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 491, further altered, and beginning "O Friend of souls! how blest the time"; Miss Winkworth's tr. of stanzas v., altered, being substituted for Mr. Matheson's. In the Methodist Episcopal Hymnal, 1878, No. 613, is stanzas i., ii., v. of Schaff s text.
3. O Friend of Souls, how well is me, a good translation omitting stanza iii. by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 1st taken as No. 513 in Hymns of the Spirit, Boston, U.S., 1864.
Another is: “Tis well with me, O Friend unfailing,” by Miss Burlingham in the British Herald, Dec. 1865, p. 185, repeated as No. 395 in Reid's Praise Book, 1872.
Hymns not in English common use:—
iv. Frisch, frisch hinnach, mein Geist und Herz. [Cross and Consolation.] Founded on Heb. x., 36. 1st published 1692 as above, p. 423, in 7 stanzas. It is translated as "Courage, my heart, press cheerly on," by Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 277.
v. Oeffne mir die Perlenpforten. (Longing for Heaven.] Founded on Rev. xxii, 14. 1st published 1692 as above, p. 384, in 6 stanzas. It is translated as "Now the pearly gates unfold," by Miss Winkworth, 1858, p. 176. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
|Tunes by Wolfgang Christoph Dessler (1)||As||Instances||Incipit|
|MEIN JESU, DEM DIE SERAPHINEN||W. Ch. Deßler (Composer)||1||56712 32113 23176|