Sailer, Wolf (d. 1550)

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Wolf (Wolfgang) Sailer, a cabinetmaker by trade, had interesting connections with Pilgram Marpeck and Caspar Schwenckfeld. Apparently he was the latter's comrade (Stallbruder) in 1529-32 in Strasbourg, and Schwenckfeld became reluctant to accept Anabaptism partly because of Sailer's affinity with it. Sailer was more eager to seek out the Anabaptists in those years than to converse with Schwenckfeld.

Sailer left Strasbourg probably about the same time as Marpeck, January 1532, and most likely went to Moravia. From here he wrote a letter to Schwenckfeld on 4 June 1540, reporting that Marpeck had visited him at Austerlitz and that when Marpeck last saw Schwenckfeld the latter had indicated surprise that Sailer had apparently forgotten him. In this letter Sailer referred to Marpeck as his "special friend and brother in the Lord," but did not call Schwenckfeld a brother, an omission which irritated Schwenckfeld, but is evidence that Sailer was now an Anabaptist brother. Apparently he also was somewhat critical of Schwenckfeld's work, for the reply he received was quite defensive of his methods.

Schwenckfeld's reply was written on 10 August 1540, and shows that Schwenckfeld was not happy with the picture as Marpeck had described it to Sailer. He was disturbed that the relations between him and Sailer had deteriorated, and said that Sailer was incorrect in assuming that he (Schwenckfeld) wrote only for the preachers and those outside of the church, for he did not presume to be wise or highly educated as Sailer charged. Apparently Sailer interpreted Schwenckfeld's condemnation at Schmalcald in a way displeasing to Schwenckfeld, for Schwenckfeld remarked that he could also interpret Sailer's "cross" in that way, but that he would not do so. Sailer was chosen to the ministry at Auspitz, Moravia, in 1547. He may then have been a Hutterite.

Nothing further is known of Sailer. His name does not occur in the Marpeck correspondence, and it seems that he belonged to the Pilgramites in Moravia and later to the Hutterites, but the relationship of these two groups to each other is not clear. He is an important link in the relationship between Marpeck and Schwenckfeld. Two years later the tensions between Marpeck's brotherhood and Schwenckfeld came to a climax through the publication of the Vermanung and letters which Marpeck and Schwenckfeld exchanged. Sailer died at Saitz, Moravia, in 1550. -- WKLA

Sailer was one of the most prolific of the Hutterite hymn writers. The translation of the Psalms which he made for congregational use is still extant. But since it lacks poetic rhythm it has never been adopted. He gives a melody for each psalm. Of the thirty-fourth and fifty-first Psalms he notes, "own melody." Wolkan (Lieder, 180-85) gives the beginning of fourteen of his songs and points out his lack of talent with several illustrations. This is also borne out in the fifty songs which are given in the Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder (Scottdale, 1914), 133, 161, 178-297. He was widely imitated, though most of the imitations are improvements over his songs. In the Hutterite brotherhood he was highly regarded.


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 165-67.

Bergsten, Torsten. "Pilgram Marbeck und seine Auseinandersetzung mit Caspar Schwenckfeld." Kyrkohis-torisk Arsskrift 1957-58. Uppsala, Sweden: 4 ff.

Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum (ed. E. E. S. Johnson) VII. Leipzig, 1926: 161-67.

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

Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. De Graaf, 1965: 180-5.

Author(s) William Klassen
Christian Neff
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Klassen, William and Christian Neff. "Sailer, Wolf (d. 1550)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 13 Jul 2024.,_Wolf_(d._1550)&oldid=146713.

APA style

Klassen, William and Christian Neff. (1959). Sailer, Wolf (d. 1550). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 July 2024, from,_Wolf_(d._1550)&oldid=146713.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 400. All rights reserved.

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