Born: December 21, 1672, Brauchitzchdorf, Silesia (now Chróstnik, Poland).
Died: February 12, 1737, Schweidnitz, Silesia (now Świdnica, Poland) (his wedding anniversary).
Schmolck entered the Gymnasium at Lauban (now Lubań, Poland) in 1688, and spent five years there.
After returning home, he preached for his father a sermon which so struck a local patron so that he gave Schmolck a three year scholarship to study theology. He matriculated at Michaelmas, 1693, at the University of Leipzig.
There he was influenced by Johann Olearius, J. P. Carpzov and others. Throughout his life, he retained the character of their teaching.
In his last year there, he supported himself mainly by writing occasional poems for wealthy citizens, for which he was also crowned as a poet.
In autumn 1697, after completing his studies at Leipzig, he returned to Brauchitzchdorf to help his father. In 1701, he was ordained as his assistant.
On February 12, 1702, he married Anna Rosina, daughter of Christoph Rehwald, a merchant in Lauban. At the end of that year he was appointed diaconus of the Friedenskirche (Protestant church) in Schweidnitz, one of the three Friedenskirchen in Catholic Silesia.
As a result of the Counter-Reformation, churches in the principality of Schweidnitz had been taken from the Lutherans, and for the whole district, the 1648 Peace of Westphalia allowed only one church (and that only of timber and clay, without tower or bells), which the Lutherans had to build at Schweidnitz outside the town walls.
The three clergy attached to this church had to minister to a population scattered over 36 villages, and were hampered by many restrictions (e.g., being unable to communicate with a sick person without a permit from the local Roman Catholic priest).
Here Schmolck stayed the rest of his life, becoming in 1708 archdiaconus, in 1712 senior, and in 1714 pastor primarius and inspector.
He suffered a paralyzing stroke on Laetare (Mid-Lent) Sunday, 1730, which for a time laid him up altogether, and after which he never recovered the use of his right hand.
For five more years he was still able to officiate, preaching for the last time on a Fastday in 1735.
Two more strokes followed, then a cataract, relieved for a time by an operation, but returning again incurably. For the last months of his life he was confined to bed.
Schmolck was the most popular German hymn writer of his time, and was hailed as the
Silesian Rist, the
second Gerhardt, and the like. In addition to cantatas, occasional pieces for weddings, funerals, etc. he wrote some 900 hymns.
These were penned for all sorts of occasions, and range over the whole field of church, family, and individual life. These came very soon into extensive use, not only in Silesia, but all over Germany.
If you know Schmolck’s burial place, would you send us an e-mail?