Gerhard Tersteegen

1697-1769. German hymnwriter. Born in Westphalia, he received a classical education, after which he was apprenticed at fifteen to his brother, a Mülheim shopkeeper. After his conversion in the following year, he spent much time in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. For some years he lived alone near Mülheim as a ribbon-weaver. He suffered great spiritual depression, but found assurance of faith in 1724. He left the Reformed Church, mainly because he would not take Communion with open sinners, but formed no sect. In 1725 he began to speak at prayer meetings in Mülheim and became known as a religious leader. He gave up weaving and was supported by gifts from friends. His cottage was known as a Pilgerhütte, a retreat for the Stillen im Lande. His influence spread throughout Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia, although temporarily restricted by a Prussian law against conventicles. He conducted an immense correspondence, translated works by mystics and Quietists, including Madame Guyon,* and delivered sermons which were published as Geistliche Brosamen von des Herrn Tisch gefallen (1769-73). Most of his 111 hymns were published in his Geistliches Blumen- Gärtlein (1729), which ran through many editions. The best known in English were both paraphrased by John Wesley*: “Thou hidden love of God” and “Lo, God is here!”

See also Bevan, E.F. and Borthwick, J.L.

H.E. Govan, Life of Gerhard Tersteegen, with Selections from His Writings (1898); W. Blankenagel, Tersteegen als religiöser Erzieher (1934); C.P. van Andel, Gerhard Tersteegen (1961).