The Earliest Hymns of the Ausbund, Translated by Robert A. Riall. Edited by Galen A. Peters
2003. 475 pp. ISBN: 978-1894710343
The Swiss Brethren hymnal, the Ausbund, is the oldest hymnal in continuous use in the world. The Old Order Amish of North America still regularly sing selections from the Ausbund in their worship services. The “earliest hymns” of the Ausbund, translated here, refers to a group of 53 songs that were composed and sung in a castle dungeon in Passau during the years 1535-1537. These compositions were preserved and eventually published as a booklet entitled Etliche schone christliche Geseng [Some Beautiful Christian Songs] in 1564. Nineteen years later, in 1583, these hymns became the core of the first-known publication of the Ausbund.
Robert A. Riall’s expert translation of the 53 Passau hymns makes available in English this most important collection of Anabaptist hymns. More than just a translation of bare texts, Riall has annotated, analyzed and commented upon the Passau hymns, placing them in the late medieval and South German Anabaptist contexts from which they emerged. The value of this translation is further enhanced by the identification of scriptural citations and allusions in the hymns. A scriptural index is also included in the volume.
"Anabaptists and Mennonites have had a long history with singing. It is entirely appropriate that the contents and history of the Ausbund be more fully known, for both a knowledge of what our forebears sang and a wider understanding of the significance of song in the spread of a radical religious movement." - Conrad Grebel Review