Conclusion of »Johann Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica«

Edition and documentation of the history of his work

Titelkupfer der Praxis Pietatis Melica

With the two recently published volumes, the edition of »Johann Crüger: Praxis Pietatis Melica«, now comprising six volumes and edited by Dr Hans-Otto Korth and Dr Wolfgang Miersemann, has been completed.

This has opened up one of the most important hymnbooks of the 17th century, which was also important for the emerging pietism. Many of his songs are among the most familiar today. Johann Crüger (1598-1662) was cantor at the Nikolaikirche in Berlin and can almost be described as the discoverer of Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), who held one of the pastorates there. The majority of Paul Gerhardt's songs appeared for the first time in the Praxis Pietatis Melica.

Volumes I/1 and I/2 form the 'prelude' to this edition and offer the critically edited text of the last edition of the work by Johann Crüger (1598-1662) himself, the "EDITIO X." of 1661, which with its 550 hymn texts represents the hymnbook-historical legacy of the Berlin Nikolaikantor. The bass figures missing in the "EDITIO X." were added after other editions. In the accompanying apparatus (volume I/2), distribution and variant indexes for the individual hymns provide information about their occurrence in the preceding editions of the Praxis Pietatis Melica; where necessary and possible, other accompanying publications from Johann Crüger's circle are also listed. It also provides supplementary bibliographical information, references to sources, descriptions of prints and, last but not least, annotations on the history of hymns and analyses of texts and hymns. Those texts and hymns from earlier editions that did not make it into the "EDITIO X." and thus into Volume I/1 are provided in a summarised form.

The famous prayer book by Johann Habermann (1516-1590), first printed in 1567 and repeatedly republished and modified since then, appears here as an appendix to Johann Crüger's Praxis Pietatis Melica as his last "EDITIO X." from 1661 (Volume I/3), published during Crüger's lifetime. The text is thus part of the edition project and contributes to the understanding of this influential hymnal. The edition thus also appears as a contribution to the reception history of the Habermann prayer book, the complete recording of which is still pending and is dependent on contributions such as the present one.

Volume II/1 is once again divided into two sub-volumes. On the one hand, it offers a bibliography with image and text documents; this makes the hymn collection, considered one of the most successful works in hymnbook history, accessible for the first time in the multitude and variety of its editions published in four edition series. The comprehensive presentation of the frontispieces, copperplate titles and other copperplate engravings of the various editions as well as the presentation of text documents, such as preface texts, provide a comprehensive insight into this highly complex work history. On the other hand, the second volume documents the only print of the edition in which the hymns of the hymnal were performed in four parts. Jacob Hintze, who continued to publish the hymnbook after Johann Crüger's death and worked as a city musician in Berlin, was responsible for this edition.

Volume II/2, which concludes the edition, contains evidence of the occurrence of more than 3,100 hymns in German and Latin in 56 editions of the Praxis Pietatis Melica from the years 1640 to around 1737 and in its two accompanying publications from 1649 and 1670, thus making it possible for the first time in this form to trace the use or non-use of these hymns in one of the most important hymnals of the 17th and 18th centuries. This overview also provides a representative cross-section of the sacred song repertoire of this period, which not only included songs from the Reformation period and Lutheran orthodoxy, but was also characterised above all by countless new textual and melodic creations.

Johann Crüger: Praxis Pietatis Melica. Edition und Dokumentation der Werkgeschichte. Im Auftrag der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle herausgegeben von Hans-Otto Korth und Wolfgang Miersemann unter Mitarbeit von Maik Richter.
Bd. I/1: Johann Crüger: Praxis Pietatis Melica. EDITIO X. (Berlin 1661). Teil 1: Text. Halle 2014.
Bd. I/2: Johann Crüger: Praxis Pietatis Melica. EDITIO X. (Berlin 1661). Teil 2: Apparat. Halle 2015.
Bd. I/3: Johann Habermann: Gebätbüchlein. Berlin 1661. Text und Apparat. Halle 2017.
Bd. II/1.1: Praxis Pietatis Melica. Bibliographie mit Bild- und Textdokumenten. Halle 2024.
Bd. II/1.2: Praxis Pietatis Melica. EDITIO XXIV. Berlin 1690. Dokumentation der von Jacob Hintze herausgegebenen 392 vierstimmigen Liedsätze. Halle 2024.
Bd. II/2: Praxis Pietatis Melica. Tabellarische Übersicht über die Entwicklung des Liedbestands. Halle 2016.

Project leaders: Dr. Thomas Müller-Bahlke, Dr. Britta Klosterberg
Project members: Dr. Wolfgang Miersemann, Dr. Hans-Otto Korth, Maik Richter, M.A.
Project duration: 1.5.2011 to 30.4.2015