1797–1876

Introduction

portrait

Born: Ap­ril 6, 1797, Hirz­el (near Zür­ich), Swit­zer­land.

Died: Jan­u­a­ry 2, 1876, Hirz­el, Swit­zer­land.

Biography

Meta was the daugh­ter of Diet­helm Schweiz­er, pas­tor of the Re­formed Church in Hirz­el; hus­band of Jo­hann Ja­kob Heuss­er, a phy­si­cian in Hir­zel (mar­ried 1821); and mo­ther of Jo­han­na Spy­ri, auth­or of the fa­mous novel Hei­di.

She was of true po­et­ic gen­i­us, and may fair­ly be re­gard­ed as the most im­port­ant of mod­ern Ger­man fe­male sacr­ed po­ets. The Ho­ly Scrip­tures and the moun­tain scen­e­ry of her lone­ly home were the chief sourc­es of her po­et­ic in­spir­a­tion. She was trained in the school of af­flic­tion, and her po­ems breathe the spir­it of deep and sin­cere pi­ety and child­like de­pen­dence, are free from all af­fec­ta­tion, and speak from the heart to the heart. Her first po­ems ap­peared at in­ter­vals in Al­bert Knapp’s Chris­to­terpe.

The first ser­ies of them were pub­lished at Leip­zig in 1858 as Lied­er ein­er Ver­bor­gen­en; re­print­ed with her name as her Ge­dichte at Leip­zig, 1863. A sec­ond ser­ies was pub­lished at Leip­zig in 1867.

A large num­ber of her hymns are found in Knapp’s Ev­an­gel­isch­er Lied­er-Schatz, 1850 and 1865; and in the Deutsch­es Ge­sang Buch, 1860, of her friend Dr. Schaff, af­ter­wards adopt­ed as the of­fi­cial book of the Am­er­i­can Re­formed Church.

A full se­lect­ion of her po­ems was trans­lat­ed by Miss Jane Borth­wick, and was pub­lished by Nel­son in 1875 as Al­pine Lyr­ics, and in­clud­ed as part of the new ed­i­tion of Hymns from the Land of Lu­ther, 1884.

All­ge­meine Deutsche Bi­o­graph­ien, xii, 339, 340, quot­ed in Ju­li­an, p. 519

Sources

Lyrics

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