Indelible Grace Hymnbook

Joachim Neander

Born: 1650, Bre­men, Ger­ma­ny.

Died: May 31, 1680, Bre­men, Ger­ma­ny, of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

Grandson of a mu­si­cian and son of a teach­er, Ne­an­der stu­died the­ol­o­gy at Bre­men Un­i­ver­si­ty (1666-70). His fam­i­ly name was Neu­mann (new man), but, as was pop­u­lar at the time, his grand­fa­ther (al­so a preach­er, and al­so named Jo­ach­im!), changed it to a for­eign equiv­a­lent, in this case Greek.

In 1671, Ne­an­der moved his stu­dies to Hei­del­berg (lo­cale of The Stu­dent Prince mu­sic­al). In 1673, he moved to Frank­furt, where he met Pi­e­tis­tic schol­ars Phil­ipp Ja­kob Spen­er (1635-1705) and Jo­hann Schütz (1640-90).

From 1674-79, Ne­an­der was prin­ci­pal of the Re­formed La­tein­schule (gram­mar school) in Düs­sel­dorf. Dur­ing these years, he used to wan­der the se­clud­ed Düs­sel Riv­er val­ley, which was, un­til the 19th Cen­tu­ry, a deep ra­vine be­tween rock fac­es and for­ests, with num­er­ous caves, grot­tos and wa­ter­falls. Prob­ab­ly, Ne­an­der wrote and sang ma­ny of his po­ems there, but al­so held ga­ther­ings and ser­vices. In the ear­ly 19th Cen­tu­ry, a large cave was named Ne­an­der­höhle af­ter him. In the mid-19th Cen­tu­ry, the ce­ment in­dus­try start­ed to quar­ry the lime­stone, and the nar­row ra­vine be­came a wide val­ley, which was now named the Ne­an­der Val­ley (in Ger­man, Ne­an­der­thal). The Ne­an­der­thal Man was found there in the sum­mer of 1856, giv­ing Jo­ach­im the dis­tinct­ion of be­ing the on­ly hym­nist with a fos­sil hom­i­nid named af­ter him!

In 1679, Ne­an­der moved to Bre­men and worked as as­sist­ant preach­er at St. Mar­ti­ni church. The next year he be­came ser­i­ous­ly ill and died, pre­sum­a­bly of the plague.

Source: The Cyber Hymnal