Neumark, Georg Christian
Author & Composer
b Langensalza, Thuringia, Germany 1621, d Weimar, Germany 1681. Educated at the Gymnasia of Schleusingen and Gotha. In autumn 1641, aged 20, he was travelling with a group of merchants to Leipzig (for the Michaelmas Fair), and thence to Lübeck, in order to matriculate at the Univ of Königsberg. Just after Magdeberg, however, some highwaymen (muggers?) attacked and robbed the group of all they possessed. Left with virtually nothing except a Prayer Book and a few coins sewn into his coat-lining, he now spent much time in an anxious and fruitless quest for work in many places. At last the chief pastor of the town of Kiel took pity on him, finding him employment as a private tutor to the family of Judge Hemming. By strict economies he managed to save enough to cover his university fees, and eventually reached his original destination where he was able to study literature and law, starting in June 1643 and adding poetry to his private studies. 3 years later, however, further unemployment and poverty awaited him when in 1646 a house fire destroyed his possessions. In 1648 he set out on further travels, with only occasional opportunities for work, via Warsaw, Thorn, Danzig, Hamburg and eventually home to Thuringia. Finally in 1652 he found employment with Duke Johann Ernst of Sachse-Weimar, first as court poet and later as secretary to his archives and as Weimar’s librarian and registrar. In 1653 he joined an influential literary circle, the Fruit-Bearing Society, becoming its secretary in 1656 and chronicler in 1668. He also belonged to another group of poets, ‘The Pegnitz Shepherd and Flower Order’. This came to an end when in 1680–81, aged 60 and in the final year of his life, he became blind. His verse, sacred and secular, appeared first in 1657; he published 3 hymn collections, and some of his 34 known hymns, 3 of which were in much demand, clearly reflect the various hardships he endured. This is certainly true of the one made widely known through its (2nd) English version by Catherine Winkworth, qv: If thou but suffer God to guide thee. Other translations of this continue to appear. His specifically Christian verse is generally considered superior to his secular poetry and has certainly outlasted it. No.761.