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Johann Franck (Hymn-Writer)

Born: June 1, 1618 - Guben, Brandenburg, Germany
Died: June 18, 1677 - Guben, Brandenburg, Germany

Johann Franck [Frank, Franke] was German poet, lawyer and public official. After his father’s death in 1620, Franck’s uncle by marriage, the town judge, Adam Tielckau, adopted him and sent him to schools in Guben, Cottbus, Stettin, and Thorn. On June 28, 1638, he enrolled at the University of Königsberg to study jurisprudence. This was the only German university left undisturbed by the Thirty Years’ War. Here his religious spirit, his love of nature, and his friendship with such men as the his poetic mentor, Simon Dach and Heinrich Held, preserved him from sharing in the excesses of his fellow students.

Johann Franck returned to Guben at Easter 1640, at his mother’s urgent request; she wished to have him near her in those times of war when Guben frequently suffered from the presence of both Swedish and Saxon troops. After his return from Prague, in May 1645, Franck embarked on a distinguished civic career as attorney, city councillor (1648) and Burgermeister (Mayor) (1661), and in 1671 (or 1670) was appointed as county elder of Guben in the margravate (Landtag - Diet)) of Lower Lusatia.

Johann Franck wrote both secular and religious poetry and published his first work, Hundertönige Vaterunsersharfe, at Guben in 1646. Almost his entire output is brought together in the two-volume Teutsche Gedichte. The first part, Geistliches Sion (Guben, 1672), contains 110 religious songs, provided with some 80 melodies, of which 40 are by the Guben Kantor Christoph Peter. Other composers include Weichman, Johann Hermann Schein, Bartholomäus Gesius and Johann Crüger, who eventually composed 14 melodies for Franck. Almost half of his hymn texts are paraphrases of psalms; they are reminiscent of Paul Gerhardt in their prayer-like diction and their untormented faith, which may account for both their general popularity and their particular attraction for Crüger. A few are still found in Protestant hymnals today. Bach composed 14 settings of seven of his texts (to melodies by Crüger, Albert and Peter), the most famous being the motet Jesu, meine Freude BWV 227. The second part of Franck’s Teutsche Gedichte, the Irdischer Helicon (Guben, 1674), contains his secular poetry. Influenced by Martin Opitz, it is of average quality and is now forgotten; it includes a panegyric to Crüger.


Source: Cyber Hymnal Website; Grove Music Online, © Oxford University Press 2005, acc. 12/28/05 (Author: Traute Maass Marshall)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2003), Thomas Braatz (December 2005)

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

BWV 56, BWV 64, BWV 81, BWV 180, BWV 227, BWV 248/5, BWV 301, BWV 366, BWV 476

Chorale Texts used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Brunnquell aller Güte


Du, o schönes Weltgebäude

Ihr Gestirn, ihr hohlen Lüfte



Jesu, meine Freude


Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele



Links to other Sites

Johann Franck (Cyber Hymnal)

Johann Franck (CCEL)



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