Born: November 25, 1697, Moers, Niederrhein, Germany.
Died: April 3, 1769, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.
Buried: Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.
Though the name is almost universally shown as the Germanized
Tersteegen, his real name was Dutch: Gerrit ter Steegen. His father abandoned his mother, and Gerhard grew up in poverty.
He wanted to study theology, but could not afford an education, so he went into commerce instead. He first worked in Mülheim an der Ruhr (near Moers and Duisburg). But Gerhard preferred the solitary life, so he gave up his sales job and worked as a weaver, knitting ribbons, studying at home in cloister-like asceticism, and reading theological books.
He became an outstanding lay theologian, lay pastor, and mystic of the Protestant Pietist movement. From 1728 on, he was an itinerant preacher in the Protestant Erweckungsbewegung (
spiritual awakening movement) in the Niederrhein region, and hosted home worship and prayer meetings.
Tersteegen was one of the two most famous 18th Century German hymn writers (the other being Joachim Neander). Beginning in 1729, he edited his famous book Geistliches Blumengärtlein inniger Seelen (Spiritual Flower Garden for Ardent Souls), a collection of hymns, spiritual lyrics and epigrams.
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