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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Martyrs 21: Magdeburg children; Curb Pope & Turk! – Luther’s hymn abandoned

     This continues from Part 20 (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  —  Part 21 presents the essay on the Magdeburg children.  This account is also mentioned in the Wikipedia article on the imperial military leader who defeated Magdeburg.  More comments follow the text.
Some highlighting added hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
XXI.
"Preserve us, Lord! by thy Word,
And curb the Pope and Turk’s murder."
(The children before their slaughter.)
After the Roman Catholic Imperial Lieutenant General Tilly had conquered the Lutheran city of Magdeburg by storm in 1631 during the Thirty Years War, he lived in this city with his soldiers in the cruelest way.  Among others, he had all the school children, as they were walking in procession through the marketplace and singing the song: [Wikipedia account here]
“Preserve us, Lord, by Thy Word
[„Erhalt uns, HErr, bei deinem Wort,]
And curb the Pope and Turks’ murder
[Und steu'r des Papst's und Türken Mord,]
That Jesus Christ, thy Son
[Die JEsum Christum, Deinen Sohn,]
Would tear from Him His Throne,” etc.
[Wollen stürzen von deinem Thron," u. s. w.]
slaughtered by his soldiers and cut into pieces, as once Herod did to the children in Bethlehem [Matt. 2:16]. The children were not hurt by this early death, they obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom, in which they are emblazoned forever; but for Tilly this act, as a commander so rude, vicious and cruel, caused a bitter remorse; also, he had no more fortunes in the wars of that time.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
21.  Die Magdeburger Schulkinder. From: M. Pfefferkorn’s Thüringische Historia. [?]
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The Wikipedia article on General Tilly put into question Tilly's guilt for this slaughter of children, but  I suspect that Fick chose the more correct understanding of these events and Tilly's actions.  There is considerable history surrounding this story, the "Sack of Magdeburg", not the least of which concerns the hymn the children were singing.

"Curb the Pope and Turks' murder"
But also the Wikipedia article on General Tilly made note of something that Fick did not, that the hymn the Magdeburg children were singing was Luther's well known Reformation hymn
"Erhalt uns, HErr, bei deinem Wort" (Preserve us, Lord, by Thy Word)
Fick did not need to mention this detail to his intended audience for they would have automatically recognized it by their familiarity with it.  But today it is not generally known... I had forgotten about it.  —  A German Wiki article on this hymn says Luther's "provocative second line "und steur des Papsts und Türcken mord" was "regarded for centuries as the most controversial Protestant hymn."  The German Wiki then adds the following: "This line has since been abandoned".  So Germany clearly departed from Luther.  But what about America?  What happened to Luther's words "Pope and Turk"?  Well!... this developed into a whole separate blog post ... to honor these slain Lutheran children of Magdeburg.  I will return to this series on martyrs (Part 22a) after this next 'sidebar' post on Luther's hymn and the fallout, and on the use of Catherine Winkworth's translations of Lutheran hymns.

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