Thursday, June 4, 2020

We remember the year 1804 and the poet and pastor Eduard Mörike. The reading is "Wo find Ich Trost" by Mörike.

It is the 4th of June 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at, I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1804. The world's population just passed 1 billion. The western world took a deep breath after a series of revolutions. Both the French and American dust-ups were done, and the new international order was beginning to develop.

Napoleon survived an assassination attempt in 1804. He had led his troops across the Alps four years prior and had taken control of Italy. This year, he was named the Emperor of the Senate and Tribunate. He was crowned in the presence of Pope Pius VII. Napoleon's Alexandrian quest to rule the continent had received a boost in cash, having just sold the Louisiana territory to the Americans. Napoleon sold the land to President Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson had been elected in a testy election in 1800, barely beating out Aaron Burr. You probably know of Burr because he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel—this event also took place in 1804. The American presidential election pitted the incumbent Jefferson, who survived the ignominy of John Adam's one-term presidency, by defeating Charles Pinckney, who was on the Federalist ticket. This election would be the first after the introduction of the 12th amendment, which stated the new requirements for electing both a president and vice president. The previous method had helped cause much of the consternation around the 1800 election

Haiti became an independent nation in this year. They were successful slave revolt against the French, which made Haiti the first black republic.

William Tell, the famous play by Friedrich Schiller, debuted in Weimar in this year. The director of that play was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

In 1804 Beethoven composed his 3rd symphony. While today this symphony known as the "Eroica" is amongst his most famous, at the time, it was too modern, too big, and too bizarre.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was also born in 1804. The American author would revolutionize the genre of the short story and call into question the issues of morality and religion in 19th-century America.

Ludwig Feuerbach was born in this year; the philosopher was born in the same year that fellow German philosopher Immanuel Kant died.

And in those German lands in 1804, the world welcomed Eduard Mörike. Mörike is one of the most famous lyrical poets in 19th-century Germany and across Europe. Although recognized as a poet, he spent most of his life as a Lutheran pastor, although we might wonder if he had a case of confused vocation?

Mörike was born in Wurttemberg in 1804. However, he was orphaned at 11 and sent off to Stuttgart and then Urach, where his cousin lived. He became deeply attached to her, and this would be just the beginning of the romantic headaches for the king of German romantic poetry.

He attended the Tübinger Stift, the famous seminary that turned out so many German pastors and theologians. Mörike was ordained and became a minister in 1826. A curious story swirled around Mörike that he cavorted with an infamous vagrant named Maria Meyer. It is believed that she influenced his later character of Peregrina.

We don't have direct evidence that he was a terrible pastor, but he served nine parishes in only eight years. Some of this may have been at his Bishop's direction. But that many churches in those many years should probably raise a red flag.

He did leave the ministry for a season to become a journalist. However, he soon was called back to pastor a church. This change required him to move, and so he broke off his engagement. He soon met his future wife, Margarete von Speeth, and moved to Stuttgart to teach at a woman's seminary. However, his sister, who had always lived with him, refused to leave the house of the new couple. Mörike was unwilling to force her to go, and soon Margarete left him, effectively annulling the marriage.

It has been suggested that he was a tortured genius, a saint and a sinner, trying to reconcile his life in service to the church but found that he could do this more effectively through poetry. Amongst his poems and translations, he wrote a work entitled "Mozart on the Road to Prague." It is considered by some to be his finest work. His poetic works, as well as his odes, hymns, and philosophical writings, reflect the German romantic movement. The movement was a blend of rational thought, imaginative fancy, and deep soul searching, all things that we could undoubtedly ascribe to Mörike as a poet. As a pastor, he may have left something to be desired. He died in 1875 and was 71 years old, having been born on this, the 4th of June, in 1800.

Today's reading comes from Edouard Mörike, a poem entitled "Wo find Ich Trost," English for "Where do I Find Comfort." These are the first two stanzas, as translated by Sharon Krebs. The whole poem can be found on

One love I know that is faithful,

That has been faithful through all the time since I found it,

That with deep sighs has ever anew,

Always forgivingly, allied itself to me.

He, who once with heavenly patience,

Drank the bitter, bitter drops of death,

Hung upon the cross and atoned for my transgressions

Until they sank into a sea of mercy.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 4th of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by a man some have called too modern, too big, and too bizarre, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.

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