The Gerhardt Hymnal is an online book and research project of Ian Welch. The purpose of this book is to catalogue all of the known hymns of Paul Gerhardt, their translations, tunes, and general information about them. This book will serve those who wish to learn more about Gerhardt’s hymns, promote their use, or produce translations of their own.
The book is effectively an updated and expanded version of Theodore Brown Hewitt’s book, Paul Gerhardt as a Hymn Writer and his Influence on English Hymnody. There are a few reasons I wanted to update this work:
- To comment and provide information on all of the known hymns of Paul Gerhardt. Hewitt’s work elaborated on 84 of Gerhardt’s hymns on account of them being the only ones with English translations at the time. This was out of the 139 we now know he has written (at Hewitt’s time, only 132 were known to exist).
- To make corrections and additions. There were some inaccuracies or omissions mostly due to the limited resources available at the time. For example, the list of stanzas for some hymn translations are incorrect or not mentioned, even though they existed at that time. Full texts are provided of all known translations in the public domain.
- To update sources and provide original scans of documents. Related to the above, on account of WWI, access to some sources were limited but have since been easier to find due to scanning and archival work by libraries throughout the world—notably in Germany, France, and the USA.
- To offer information related to musical settings and tunes associated with the hymns. Hewitt’s book is very limited in this regard. Original and popular tunes associated with a hymn will be provided along with some background information.
- To analyze Gerhardt’s German and poetry in detail. Hewitt provides extended commentary on 10 of Gerhardt’s more popular hymns. While that commentary offers valuable insight into English translations, this book will offer more detail on Gerhardt’s poetry in order to aid future translators and those wishing to study his hymns.
This is a multi-year project and will be updated on a semi-regular basis. Because of the large amount of data associated with each hymn, the content will be added systematically in this order:
- Basic information about a hymn: Date it was first published, meter, stanza count, source references, etc. (This has been completed for the most part.)
- Text and translations for each hymn: Original German text, English translations, and source scans.
- Tunes and settings: Original and popular tunes associated with a hymn.
- Analysis of Gerhardt’s hymns: Research into the form and content of the original German hymn, including allusions and references to Scripture.
- Text comparisons: A side-by-side comparison of Gerhard’t German text and translations. This may eventually be done together with number 2 as soon as a technical solution is found.