Henriette Louise von Hayn at 300

Thursday, May 23, 2024

This year we are celebrating the 300th birthday of the German poet Henriette Louise von Hayn, who was born on 22 May 1724 in Idstein (Hesse) and died on 27 August 1782 in Herrnhut (Upper Lusatia).

At the age of 22 (1746), she joined Count Zinzendorf’s Protestant Brethren community against her parents’ wishes, and took over the education of the children at the girls’ refuge in Herrnhaag (Wetterau). In 1750, Henriette moved to Herrnhut, where she was appointed choir helper in 1766, becoming the pastor of the living, working and residential community (“Chor”) of the 400 or so unmarried sisters.

Henriette Louise von Hayn (RISM Catalog | RISM Online) wrote numerous religious songs, 44 of which were published in the Brethren’s community’s Brüdergesangbuch of 1778. Her best-known song is arguably Weil ich Jesu Schäflein bin, which can still be found in many song books today, and is sung in numerous languages. The Easter song Ave zum Heraustritt aus der Kammer (RISM ID no. 220013101 - RISM Catalog | RISM Online), which is sung all over the world as part of the Easter morning liturgy of Brethren communities, was also written by her.

The seven-strophe song Weil ich Jesu Schäflein bin was written in Herrnhut on 1 August 1776, for the 36th birthday of a close friend, the teacher Christine Petersen. The RISM database lists 12 sources (RISM Catalog | RISM Online).

Further information can be found in Elisabeth Schneider-Böklen’s dissertation „Amen, ja, mein Glück ist groß“. Henriette Louise von Hayn (1724–1782). Eine Dichterin des Herrnhuter Pietismus, Herrnhut 2009 (Dissertation, Universität Marburg, 2005), available online.

Image: Text of the first strophe of Weil ich Jesu Schäflein bin

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