“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
Joachim Neumann was born in 1650 in Bremen, in what is today part of Germany. His father was a teacher of Latin. Joachim grew up in the Reformed Calvinist Church in Germany. At 16, he studied theology at home, being too poor to go to university. Shortly before he finished his course, in 1670, he heard a sermon which changed his life. Whether this was the moment he was saved or simply got more serious about his salvation, he was now firmly committed to following God.
He moved to Düsseldorf in 1674 after three years as a private tutor in Heidelberg. His work in Düsseldorf involved teaching Latin, as his father had done. But he was getting ready to be a pastor.
When preparing lessons, or sermons, or just praying, he liked to walk in the Düssel river valley. In fact, he often held gatherings there and preached sermons. He also composed his poems there, which have become some of our best-known hymns. The best known of all is Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation. He moved back to Bremen in 1679 to take up a pastorate but died of tuberculosis the next year.
Joachim’s grandfather had changed the family name to the Greek version Neander – a common practice at the time. His favorite valley soon took on his name – Neander’s Dale, or Tal in German. That wonderful hymn of praise to God for his creation was written in the Neanderthal, where nearly 200 years later paleontologists thought they had found the missing link – Neanderthal Man.
Prayer: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation. Oh my soul praise Him, for He is thy help and salvation. Amen.
Ref: Helmut Ackermann: Joachim Neander. Sein Leben, seine Lieder, sein Tal. 3. erw. Aufl. Düsseldorf 2005 (Joachim Neander. His Life, His Songs, His Valley). Image: Public Domain (due to age).
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