Matthias Claudius

1740-1815. German poet. Descended from Lutheran pastors, he studied at Jena and later moved to Wandsbeck, near Hamburg, where in 1771 he became literary editor of Der Wandsbecker Bote. For this he wrote, under the pseudonym Asmus, prose and poems in a popular “calendar” style. In 1776 he moved to Darmstadt, where he was influenced by freethinkers, but in 1777 after an illness he regained his faith. He returned to Wandsbeck to redirect the Bote on Christian lines and provide ammunition for a revolt against rationalism. While many of his poems were Christian in spirit, he wrote nothing for church use. Miss J.M. Campbell's translation “We plough the fields and scatter” (1861), reportedly a paraphrase of part of a village sketch, met a then new demand for harvest festival hymns.