Things appeared desperate for Georg Neumark. Walking cross country in the early Autumn of 1641 to begin his studies at the University of Konigsberg, the young German scholar was robbed of virtually everything he owned. With no money left to pay for food or classes, George had to drop out of college and look for work. He was hungry, poorly clothed, forced to take whatever shelter he could find as the cold weather came on.
He went back to Magdeburg but could find no work there. However, he made friends easily, and they pointed him to different cities. But he had no more success in the next three cities he tried: Luneburg, Winsen or Hamburg. He passed on to Keil. The chief pastor of Keil, Nicolaus Becker took an interest in Georg. Like Georg, he was from Thuringia. However, he could find him no immediate work. It was now December. What was Georg to do?
At this darkest moment, a miracle happened. A tutor in a prominent family fell into disgrace and fled. Nicolaus Becker recommended Georg for the position and he was hired. Georg's response was to burst into a hymn of praise, "on that very day."
If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days....
Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word: though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.
We remember George Neumark mainly because of that one hymn and the tune he composed for it. For two years he worked and saved his money, finally getting together enough to enter University. In 1646 he again lost everything he owned, this time to a fire.
However, he was able to complete his studies and return to his homeland. There Duke Wilhelm II of Sachse-Weimar recognized his merits and gave him a trusted position.
Georg went blind shortly before he died, but the court allowed him to keep his jobs with their badly-needed income right to the end. He died on this day, July 18, 1681, having turned 60 shortly before. He had performed his part faithfully and God did not forsake him, bearing him through the evil days.
- Covert, William Chalmers and Laufer, Calvin Weiss, editors. Handbook to the Hymnal. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1936).
- "Georg Neumark." http://www.cyberhymnal.org
- Haeussler, Armin. The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. St. Louis, Missouri: Eden Publishing, 1952.
- Various encyclopedia and internet articles.
Last updated July, 2007