Kleines Hand-Büchlein

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kleines Hand-Büchlein, darinnen Morgen- und Abend Gebeter, wie auch zur Tauf und Communion, und mehr andere etc. enthalten sind. Nebst verschiedenen Märtyrer und andern Liedern, was the last Swiss Mennonite prayer book). It is a small size (2x3 inches: 5x7.5 cm.) pocket companion apparently intended for everyday devotional reading although its contents are not quite in accordance with this idea. It seems to have been and still is a rather popular book, as six European and two American editions prove. The oldest edition of 1786 apparently comes from the Palatinate although the title page does not indicate any place of publication. Later European editions are: 1801 Basel (von Mechel publishing house); 1816 Römhild (Thuringia); 1837 Basel (von Mechel), this and all following editions changed by omission of several prayers and a new 53-page appendix; 1867 Biel (Switzerland); 1930 Meiringen (Switzerland). The two American editions are: 1835 Osnaburg, Stark County, Ohio (Heinrich Kurz); and 1872 Elkhart, Indiana (John F. Funk). When American Mennonites shifted to the English language this prayer book lost its former value. No German Mennonite prayer book had been translated into English by 1957.

The first three editions contain 16 prayers, and 10 hymns and brief rhymes; all later editions contain only 12 prayers in the first part, with the same hymns, and in the second part (called Anhang) 11 hymns and 3 prayers. The entire work is very sentimental and a typical product of Pietism with its strong emphasis upon melancholy (Schwermütigkeit), sickness, and dying. And yet, the book is rather a combination of old Dutch Mennonite prayers of a quasi-formal nature (see Clock, Leenaert) together with certain hymns known from the Ausbund, plus non-Mennonite material apparently borrowed from prayer books and hymnbooks of the territorial state churches (Lutheran) of the 18th century. Of the 16 prayers of the earlier editions, 13 are lifted verbatim either from the 1664 manual of van Sittert, called Christliches Glaubensbekenntnis der waffenlosen... Christen (see Confessions), or perhaps from the 1702 Güldene Äpfel, which contains about the same collection (namely, morning and evening prayers, prayers for the ordinances such as baptism and Lord's Supper, also for weddings, prayers before and after sermons, and one "to be spoken before a sick person"). To this are added new, non-Mennonite prayers, such as "Prayers of a sad and sorrowful person in the throes of death" (this prayer was later added to all 19th-century editions of the Ernsthafte Christenpflicht), a general prayer directed to Jesus ("Der Du, oh Herr Jesu, uns so teuer erkaufet und erlöset hast," highly characteristic of the pietistic mood), and one "In the agony of death," concluding with "Sighs in times of dying" ("Darum allein auf Dich, Herr Christ, verlass ich mich").

The new form of the book after 1837 omits the prayers "before and after the sermons," and adds three prayers, viz., "Of those present at the passing away of a person, also good for funerals," another funeral prayer, and one "for persons in melancholy and inner troubles" (Anfechtung), a rather strange assemblage for a pocket devotional reader.

Among the hymns are the "Haslibacher Lied," the song describing the visit of three Christians from Thessalonica to Moravia (published as a pamphlet for the first time in 1695), the hymn by Hans Reist, likewise of 1695, entitled "Es ist eine wunderschöne Gab," and several of non-Mennonite origin. The 1837 appendix has eleven hymns dealing with dying and the futility of life ("Bedenke Mensch, das Ende"; "Wohl dem der stets ans Ende denkt"; "Ach wie kurz ist unser Leben"; etc.), also a song of penitence (Buss-Lied), "Denket doch, ihr Menschenkinder," headed "Thomas a Kempis Nachfolge Christi, in der Melodey des 42. Psalmes."


Friedmann, Robert. "Mennonite Prayerbooks" in Mennonite Piety Through the Centuries. Goshen, IN: Mennonite Historical Society, 1949.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 246.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. De Graaf, 1965: 161-164.

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friedmann, Robert. "Kleines Hand-Büchlein." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 3 Oct 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kleines_Hand-B%C3%BCchlein&oldid=145578.

APA style

Friedmann, Robert. (1957). Kleines Hand-Büchlein. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 October 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kleines_Hand-B%C3%BCchlein&oldid=145578.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 200. All rights reserved.

©1996-2023 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.