Schneider, Michael (16th century)
Michael Schneider, a Philippite Anabaptist and hymn writer, originally of Bruchsal, Baden, where he joined the group of Philipp Plener in 1527. With Plener he went to Moravia and lived at the Bruderhof at Auspitz. When, in 1535, the entire brotherhood of the Philippites broke up into several groups to return to Southwest Germany, Plener in a last act as bishop ordained Michael Schneider as leader (also called "bishop") of a group of about 60 souls who seem to have had Bruchsal as their destination. In August and September of 1535 this "Schneider group" was caught at Passau and imprisoned there 1535-40. We know something of these people through the Passauer Religionsakten (used by Wolkan) but unfortunately the records concerning Schneider are lost. Schneider's wife was among the prisoners, and all the prisoners deposed that Schneider had been their "bishop" or leader. He was also one of the prisoners, as related in the oldest part of the Ausbund, which contains the hymns of these Passau Philippites. In the dungeons of the Passau castle 52 hymns were composed, eleven of which had Schneider as author, namely, Nos. (in modern editions) 82, 85, 87, 93, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, and together with Hans Betz or Petz as co-author, Nos. 102 and 103. Wackernagel (III and IV) also prints them.
In his Lieder der Wiedertäufer, Wolkan analyzed all these hymns in great detail and rated Schneider as "a true poet" and a composer of great depth of feeling and power of expression. In fact he rates Schneider as more profound than Betz. Schneider's main concern is discipleship, which becomes possible only by practicing Gelassenheit, that is, surrender to God in the hour of testing. Even in his agony Schneider prays for his enemies (No. 85, stanza 3). Hymn No. 87 is one great praise of the power of love. He has a deep grasp of the meaning of martyrdom for the true disciple of Christ. Wolkan points out that Schneider avoids all dogmatic questions, touching only the Lord's Supper.
Nothing is known about Schneider's fate. Since no death penalty was practiced in Passau, he either died in prison with many others (e.g., Betz), or was finally freed. But no details are recorded. The Hutterite Chronicle omits his name. (see Philippite Brethren.)
Wackernagel, Philipp. Das deutsche Kirchenlied von der ältesten Zeit bis zu An fang des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 5 v. Leipzig, 1864-1877. Reprinted Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1964.
Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop: B. De Graaf, 1965.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 470. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Friedmann, Robert. "Schneider, Michael (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S3595.html.
APA style: Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Schneider, Michael (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S3595.html.