Geistreiches Gesangbuch

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Geistreiches Gesangbuch, worin nebst den Psalmen Davids eine Sammlung auserlesener alter und neuer Lieder zu finden ist, zur allgemeinen Erbauung herausgegeben (chief compiler Hans van Steen, an elder in the Flemish congregation at Danzig), the first German hymnbook of the West Prussian Mennonite churches, first edition at Königsberg in 1767, was long used in West Prussia, then in Russia, Manitoba, and in Mexico, where it was still in use in the mid-20th century. Further editions were published in West Prussia as follows: Königsberg 1775; Marienwerder 1780, when the title was changed to Geistreiches Gesangbuch zur Oeffentlichen und besonderen Erbauung der Mennonitischen Gemeine in und vor der Stadt Danzig, with an appendix, Anhang einiger Gebethe zur Kirchen- und Haus-Andacht, Elbing 1794; Marienwerder 1803, again with altered title, Gesangbuch, worin eine Sammlung alter und neuer Lieder zum gottesdienstlichen Gebrauch und allgemeinen Erbauung ausgegeben, Ps. 104 v. 33; Marienwerder 1819, when the title was changed a third time to read Gesang-Buch worin eine Sammlung geistreicher Lieder befindlich. Zur allgemeinen Erbauung und zum Lobe Gottes herausgeben; Elbing 1829; Marienburg 1838, "durchgesehene und verbesserte Auflage"; Elbing 1843; Graudenz 1845; and Danzig 1864. The Elbing edition of 1843, the ninth, was reprinted in Odessa for the Russian Mennonites in 1844, 1854, 1859, and 1867. A fifth undated Russian edition was printed in Leipzig, undated sixth and seventh editions again in Leipzig, the last distributed in Halbstadt. In 1843 (Elbing) the word "worin" in the title was changed to "in welchem."

The Mennonites who emigrated from Russia to Manitoba in 1874 had eight unchanged editions published under the following title: Gesangbuch worin eine Sammlung geistlicher Lieder zur Allgemeinen Erbauung und zum Lobe Gottes. The hymnal was published at Elkhart, Indiana, by the Mennonite Publishing Company, 1880, 1884, 1889 (when "worin" was dropped from the title), 1895, 1903, 1907, 1912, 1918. Editions were published in 1926 and 1937 (durchgesehene amerikanische Ausgabe) by the Mennonite Publishing House at Scottdale, Pennsylvania. When the Old Colony Mennonites went to Mexico in 1922 they took this book along as their hymnbook, and there published two editions (1940, 1943). Three further editions for Mexico appeared at Scottdale (1944, 1949, 1954).

The contents of this hymnal changed but slightly during the entire period of 200 years. It never had any musical notation. The predecessor of this book was the Dutch Veelderhande Schriftuurlijke Liedekens . . ., used in West Prussia 1724-1769, which had been in use in Holland since the days of the Reformation.

Originally the Geistreiches Gesangbuch contained 505 songs and 150 Psalms, selected and translated from Dutch songbooks in use and chosen from the Halle, Stargard, Quandt, and Rogall songbooks. The Psalms were omitted with the third edition, which contained 620 hymns in 652 pages. In the sixth edition a second part (Zweiter Teil) was added making the total of 725 songs. The Geistreiches Gesangbuch has the unusual record of having been in use for nearly 200 years, by 1955 going through 11 editions in Prussia, 7 in Russia, 11 in America, and 2 in Mexico, a total of 33 editions ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 copies each, making it the most widely used hymnbook of the Prussian-Russian Mennonites.

See article Hymnology of the Mennonites of Prussia and Russia

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1956

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Krahn, Cornelius. "Geistreiches Gesangbuch." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 24 Sep 2023.

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Krahn, Cornelius. (1956). Geistreiches Gesangbuch. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 448. All rights reserved.

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