Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb. Ein Lied zu singen bey der Beerdigung eines Nachfolgers JEsu Christi. [Germantown: Leibert and Billmeyer, ca. 1785.]

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AN UNRECORDED GERMANTOWN EPHEMERUM

Ein Lied zu singen bey der Beerdigung eines Nachfolgers JEsu Christi

Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb


Published by Leibert und Billmeyer, 1785
AN UNRECORDED GERMANTOWN EPHEMERUM. [Germantown: Leibert and Billmeyer, ca. 1785.] Quarter pot bifolium (6" x 3 7/8", 154mm x 97mm): printed on the recto of the first leaf only. A flattened crease to the lower fore-corner. Evenly mildly tanned. With the deckle preserved at the fore of the first leaf and the bottom of both leaves. The story of black-letter printing in America begins with Christopher Sauer (Sower, Saur), or rather, the father and son who both bore that name. They set up in Germantown -- then a separate city but now part of Philadelphia -- and began to print material for the Church of the Brethren (Dunkards), Lutherans and Mennonites in the region. Although the leaf does not bear any imprint, we can tie it stylistically to the publishing efforts of Peter Leibert and Michael Billmeyer. Leibert and Billmeyer took over the usable printing materials of Sauer the younger, whose workshop was destroyed by the British in 1777/8, and set up shop in the early 1780's. This sort of ephemerum would be distributed at funerals (the title translates to "a song to sing at the burial of a follower of Jesus Christ") in order to obviate the need for more expensive full hymnals. It is a rare survival, and apparently unrecorded. The funeral song, in seven verses, is usually known by its first line ("Begrabt den Leib in seine Gruft," bury the body in its cyrpt). It was written and published by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock in 1758. The tune (specified under the title as "Mel.") is that of Michael Weiße's 1531 Nun laßt uns den Leib begraben, whose melody has been established since 1544. It was also famously set by Schubert (D168).
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