In 1583 a book of hymns was published in Germany. Among them were several which had been written by Leonhart Schiemer.
Schiemer spent six years of his life as a Fransciscan friar. When, by the grace of God, he came to see the false religion in which he was raised, he escaped, looking for the Anabaptist Belthasar Hubmaier. Hubmaier then pointed him to another Anabaptist Hans Hut, and through these men, the former friar was born again. After his baptism, Scheimer began preaching free grace through Christ throughout Austria and Bavaria. God greatly blessed his ministry until in Tyrol he was recognized by a former monk.
On this day (Nov. 25) in 1527, Leonhart Schiemer was arrested. At his trial it was determined that he was guilty of heresy and condemned to death. Two months later he was delivered to the executioner, beheaded, and his body was burnt. The martyrdom took place in Rotenburg, where later, seventy of this fellow saints also sealed their faith with blood.
So far as I know, we don’t have any of the sermons which Schiemer preached, but we do have several hymns. Among them was the following, translated from German.
Thine holy place they have destroyed,
Thine altars overthrown,
And reaching forth their bloody hands,
Have foully slain thine own.
And we alone, thy little flock,
The few who still remain,
Are exiles wandering through the land,
In sorrow and in pain.
We are, alas, like scattered sheep,
The shepherd not in sight,
Each far away from home and hearth,
And, like the birds of night
That hide away in rocky clefts,
We have our rocky hold,
Yet near at hand, as for the birds,
There waits the hunter bold.
We wander in the forests dark,
With dogs upon our track;
And like the captive, silent lamb
Men bring us, prisoners, back.
They point to us amid the throng,
And with their taunts offend;
And long to let the sharpened axe
On heretics descend.