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Philipp Nicolai

1556-1608. Pastor and hymnwriter. Son of a Lutheran pastor, he was born at Mengeringhausen, Waldeck, studied at Erfurt and Wittenberg, and was appointed Lutheran preacher at Herdecke (1583). When Spanish troops invaded in 1586, the Mass was reintroduced and he resigned. After a pastorate at Niederwildungen, he became chief pastor at Altwildungen, then court preacher to Countess Margaretha of Waldeck (1588). He took part in the Sacramentarian Controversy and was forbidden to preach for a time (1592-93). In 1596 he became pastor at Unna, where he wrote his celebrated “Watchet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” (“Sleepers wake”), based on Matthew 25:1-13, during a terrible pestilence. In 1599 he wrote “Wie schön leuchet de Morgenstern,” marking the transition in German hymnody from the objective churchly period to the subjective experimental period. His last pastorate was St. Katherine's Church, Hamburg (1601-8).