Born: Au­gust 10, 1556, Men­ger­ing­haus­en (near Ar­ol­sen), Hess­en, Ger­ma­ny.

Died: Oc­to­ber 26, 1608, Ham­burg, Ger­ma­ny.

Buried: Ka­tha­rin­en­kirche, Ham­burg, Ger­ma­ny (Haupt­kirche St. Ka­tha­rin­en). Sad­ly, the church was al­most de­stroyed in World War II, though it was re­stored in the 1950’s.


Son of a Lu­ther­an cler­gy­man, Ni­co­lai stu­died theo­lo­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ties of Er­furt and Wit­ten­berg from about 1575–1579.

He then be­came a pas­tor in Herd­ecke an der Ruhr, but was driv­en out by Span­ish Coun­ter-Re­for­ma­tion mer­ce­na­ry troops dur­ing the re­li­gious war.

He moved to Co­logne, a tho­rough­ly Ca­tho­lic ci­ty, and was a preach­er of the Lu­ther­an con­gre­ga­tions, who at that time met sec­ret­ly in homes.

In 1588, Ni­colai be­came Hof­pre­dig­er (Court Preach­er) and teach­er of the Count of Wald­eck in Wild­ung­en, Hes­sen. In 1596, he be­came a pas­tor in Un­na, West­phal­ia.

During his Un­na years, plague killed hun­dreds of his pa­rish­ion­ers. For con­so­la­tion, Ni­co­lai wrote his book Freu­den­spie­gel des ew­ig­en Le­bens (Joy­ous Mir­ror of Eter­nal Life), ed­it­ed in 1599. His two most fa­mous hymns were pub­lished in that work.

In 1601, Ni­co­lai bec­ame pas­tor at Ka­tha­rin­en­kirche in Ham­burg, where he served the rest of his life.