Sauer, Christopher. Ein Einfältiges Reim-Gedichte, welches Christoph Saur gemacht hat auf seinen Namen und Geburts-Tag, als er sechzig Jahr alt war den 26sten September, 1781. [Germantown: Leibert and Billmeyer, ca. 1784.]
A RHYMING ACROSTIC POEM COMPOSED FOR SAUER’S SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY
Ein Einfältiges Reim-Gedichte, welches Christoph Saur gemacht hat auf seinen Namen und Geburts-Tag, als er sechzig Jahr alt war den 26sten September, 1781
Published by Leibert und Billmeyer, 1784
[Germantown: Leibert and Billmeyer, ca. 1784.] Quarter bifolium (7 1/8" x 4 3/16", 181mm x 106mm): 2 leaves, 4pp. With a transverse crease, and small losses at the crossed folds. 10mm split to the fold of the second leaf starting from the fore-edge. Foxing and toning. (Price?) addition equations ink manuscript to the recto of the first leaf. The story of black-letter printing in America begins with Christopher Sauer (Saur has here, anglicized to Sower), 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, printers in Germantown (now a neighborhood of Philadelphia). 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. It is for that reason that the pamphlet is sometimes dated to 1784 rather than to the stated 1781, as their press had not yet been set up in earnest. The song, set to the melody "Meine Sorgen Angst und Plagen" (my worries, fear and plagues; the tune appears to be the same as that for "Freu' dich sehr o meine Seele"), is an acrostic on the name Christoph Saur (13 verses, each verse's first line beginning with the corresponding letter) that Saur himself -- so the title boasts -- composed for his sixtieth birthday on 26 September 1781. The verses draw on the broader Lutheran hymnal tradition, and mix in some time-honored reflections on death and mortality long occasioned by mile-stone birthdays. Ephrata/Sachse 228; Evans 17367; Sabin 77196.