Martin Rinkart, son of Georg Rinkart or Rinckart, cooper at Eilenburg on the Mulde, Saxony, was born at Eilenburg, April 23, 1586.* After passing through the Latin school at Eilenburg, he became, in Nov., 1601, a foundation scholar and chorister of the St. Thomas’s School at Leipzig. This scholarship also allowed him to proceed to the University of Leipzig, where he matriculated for the summer session of 1602, as a student of Theology; and after the completion of his course he remained for some time in Leipzig (he did not take his M.A. till 1616). In March 1610 he offered himself as a candidate for the post of diaconus at Eilenburg, and was presented by the Town Council, but the Superintendent refused to sanction this arrangement, nominally on the ground that Rinkart was a better musician than theologian, but really because he was unwilling to have a colleague who was a native of Eilenburg, and who appeared to have a will of his own. Rinkart, not wishing to contest the matter, applied for a vacant mastership in the gymnasium at Eisleben, and entered on his duties there in the beginning of June, 1610, as sixth master, and also cantor of the St. Nicholas Church. After holding this appointment for a few months, he became diaconus of St. Anne’s Church, in the Neustadt of Eisleben, and began his work there May 28, 1611; and then became pastor at Erdeborn and Lyttichendorf (Lütjendorf), near Eisleben, entering on his duties there on Dec. 5, 1613. Finally he was invited by the Town Council of Eilenburg to become archidiaconus there, and in Nov. 1617 came into residence at Eilenburg. He died at Eilenburg, Dec. 8, 1649. A memorial tablet to his memory, affixed to the house where he lived, was unveiled at Eilenburg on Easter Monday, April 26, 1886. (Martin Rinkart’s Geistliche Lieder, ed., with a biographical introduction, and an extensive bibliography, by Heinrich Rembe and Johannes Linke, D.D., Gotha, F. A. Perthes, 1886; K. Goedeke’s Grundris, vol. iii., 1887, pp. 169, 211, &c.)
The greater part of Rinkart’s professional life was passed amid the horrors of the Thirty Years War. Eilenburg being a walled town became a refuge for fugitives from all around, and being so overcrowded, not unnaturally suffered from pestilence and famine. During the great pestilence of 1637 the Superintendent went away for change of air, and could not be persuaded to return; and on Aug. 7 Rinkart had to officiate at the funerals of two of the town clergy and two who had had to leave their livings in the country. Rinkart thus for some time was the only clergyman in the place, and often read the service over some 40 to 50 persons a day, and in all over about 4,480. At last the refugees had to be buried in trenches without service, and during the whole epidemic some 8,000 persons died, including Rinkart’s first wife, who died May 8, 1637. The next year he had an epidemic of marriages to encounter, and himself fell a victim on June 24. Immediately thereafter came a most severe famine, during which Rinkart’s resources were strained to the uttermost to help his people. Twice also he saved Eilenburg from the Swedes, once in the beginning of 1637, and again in 1639 (see p. 319, i.). Unfortunately the services he rendered to the place seemed to have made those in authority the more ungrateful, and in his latter years he was much harassed by them in financial and other matters, and by the time that the long-looked-for peace came (Oct. 24, 1648) he was a worn-out and prematurely aged man.