Did Luise Henriette Write Jesus Meine Zuversicht?


There are several hymns that have been attributed to Luise,and given her training, life experience and convictions, it is not impossible to believe that she, indeed, authored this and other hymns often attributed to her. Yet, the lack of conclusive evidence has led many modern hymnologists to the wistful opinions summarized here by John Julian, the Vicar of Wincobank in his 1892 A Dictionary of Hymnology.

Luise Henriette was a woman of noble character; a devoted wife who accompanied her husband in many of his expeditions, and was his right-hand counsellor in matters of state; and a true mother of her people, introducing the culture of the potato, founding model farms, establishing elementary schools, and in many ways interesting herself in restoring their welfare after the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War. She was, like the Elector, a member of the Reformed Church, but earnestly desired to promote peace between the Lutheran and Reformed communions, and exerted herself especially on behalf of P. Gerhardt. Another of her efforts in this direction was by means of the Union Hymn Book, which Christoph Runge edited at her direction, and published in 1653. To this book she herself contributed four hymns. In his dedication to the Electress, Runge says she had “augmented and adorned it with your own hymns, viz.: ‘Ein ander stelle sein Vertrauen’; ‘Gott der Reichthumb deiner Güter’; ‘Jesus meine Zuversicht’; ‘Ich wil von meiner Missethat.’ Your Electoral Highness has not only in those your now mentioned hymns (itzt gemeldten geistreichen Ihren eigenen Liedern) made known to all the world your Christian spirit; how your confidence is directed to God alone; how you ascribe to him with thankful heart all the benefits you enjoy; and how you rest the hope of your future everlasting life in Heaven on Christ alone as on a steadfast rock, but have also,” &c. &c.
The question however remains. Did Runge here mean more than that she had sent for insertion certain hymns which were favourites of her own, perhaps written for her, but not necessarily written by her? Such cases were common enough at an earlier period. It is certainly strange that her name should not be given in any of the many hymn-books in which the third of these (“Jesus meine Zuversicht”) was included during the next century. It was not till 1769 that Runge’s dedication suggested to D. G. Schöber, and, after him, to other compilers, the idea of the Electress’s authorship; but once suggested it was soon generally accepted. Fischer, i. 390-396, gives various additional reasons that make this theory unlikely; such as that while in Runge’s dedication they are mentioned as above, yet her name is not affixed to the individual hymns in the body of the book; that in the funeral oration by her private chaplain, no mention is made of her poetical gifts; that Crüger gave them in his Praxis pietatis melica without her name (in the 1664 and later editions the first was omitted), and that in particular the third is too classic and correct in style to have been written by so poor a German scholar as the Electress. This last objection would of course be met if we could suppose with Koch (iv. p. 169) that the hymn was originally written in Dutch, or with Dutch idioms, and was revised and corrected by her minister, Otto von Schwerin, or by Runge.
In view of the present evidence we can only say that if the Electress were not the author of these hymns there is at least no proof of any kind to show that they were composed by any of those whose names have sometimes been attached to them; such as Otto von Schwerin (b. 1616, d. 1679), Caspar Ziegler (b. 1621, d. 1690), Hans von Assig (b. 1650, d. 1694), and others. In this state of uncertainty the case must be left till definite proof be forthcoming.

Julian, John; A Dictionary of Hymnology, Charles Scribner’s Sons, London, 1892. P.702.