Zinzendorf, Nicolaus Ludwig von


b Dresden, Germany 1700, d Herrnhut, Saxony 1760. The Adelspädagogium (school) at Halle, 1710–16; Univ of Wittenberg (degree in Law) 1716–19. Born into a wealthy branch of the German nobility, trained in Pietist faith by his aunt and grandmother and inheriting the title of ‘Count’ (of Zinzendorf and Pottendorf) after the early death of his father, after graduation he travelled throughout Europe and in 1721 became court poet and then counsellor of state to the Elector of Saxony at Dresden. He then partly fulfilled his boyhood missionary ambition by establishing an extensive Christian settlement (the ‘Herrnhut’ or ‘Lord’s Shelter’) on his own estate at Berthelsdorf; which from 1727 became his full-time commitment. This included a large chapel, an orphanage, workshops and many other related activities; singing had a prominent place in its worship and the Count’s first Gesangbuch was published for Herrnhut in 1735. Moravian missionaries sent from there travelled widely, taking with them their resilient Moravian faith, firm assurance, and Christ-centred hymns, all of which John Wesley (qv) first encountered en route for America. The Count had a licence to preach from the Theological Faculty at Tübingen and the community had a strict constitution which required a close observance of his rules, but became a refuge for Moravian and other Protestant victims of persecution; in 1737 he became an elected bishop in the Moravian church. Although banished from that time for his strange teachings, he returned in 1748 and remained there until his death, reputedly keeping very little money of his own. He wrote some 2000 hymns, the first at the age of 12 and the last in the week of his death; they are generally marked by pietism or deep personal devotion; 3 are included in the Methodist Hymns and Psalms (1983). These, like many others, were translated by Wesley, who was highly impressed on his visit to Herrnhut in 1738 but later became disillusioned by some features of Moravianism and of the Count’s leadership. Julian gives Zinzendorf an extensive account by James Mearns; GH includes 3 translated texts, while CH finds room for 6. 24 of them (and many more from Herrnhut) are retained in the N American Moravian Book of Worship (1995) which opens with a quotation from him: ‘The hymnal is a kind of response to the Bible, an echo and an extension thereof.’ No.778.

Hymns and songs by Zinzendorf, Nicolaus Ludwig von

Number Hymn Name
778 Jesus, your blood and righteousness