Claudius, Matthias


b Reinfeld in Holstein, nr Lübeck 1740, d Wandsbeck nr Hamburg, Germany 1815. Univ of Jena. He made his home at Wandsbeck, having been diverted by the prevalent German rationalism from his original study of theology with a view to ordination. He turned instead to journalism and law; influenced in his 30s by Goethe and the freethinkers in the Darmstadt area, he moved even further from any faith until a severe illness brought him to a new understanding and recommitment to Christ. He edited a Christian journal The Wandsbecker Bote, or the Messenger; a financial crisis (for his family of 11 children) overlapped with his spiritual one, but eventually in 1788 he obtained the post of auditor to the Schleswig-Holstein Bank at Altona, an appointment in the gift of the Crown Prince of Denmark. In 1808 he retired to live with his daughter in Hamburg. He was known for his normally cheerful and humorous spirit and love of nature; although he never set out to write hymns as such, his verses were praised by Longfellow for their ‘strong, primitive and sympathetic Christian feeling’ and their nationwide influence (as quoted by Kenneth Parry). No.919.

Hymns and songs by Claudius, Matthias

Number Hymn Name
919 We plough the fields, and scatter