Skip to Main Content

Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library Blog

Elisabeth Cruciger: The First Female Hymnist of Lutheranism

by Christine Siampos on 2023-03-06T14:15:21-06:00 | 0 Comments

Happy March! It’s time for greener grass, warmer temperatures, and of course Great Lent! But March is also known for being Womens’ History Month, and we at the library thought it would be a great idea to shine a spotlight on some well-known Lutheran women who have their names behind works worthy of being in a library.

Elisabeth Cruciger, for example, is one such name. She may not ring a bell to many, but she is known as the first female Lutheran hymnist and a close friend of Martin Luther and his family.

Elisabeth’s path was laid before God the moment she was born in 1500 AD in Meseritz, which now rests in Poland. As a young girl, her noble parents gave her to the Premonstratensians in Treptow where she studied, prayed, and eventually took her vows at fifteen. It was seen as an act of piety toward God back then; by their beliefs, giving one’s children to the Lord helped them ascend to heaven when they died.

The Premonstratensians were canons regular, or members of the clergy who lived in a community under a specific rule. Elisabeth would have taken on the life of a nun had she stayed with them—supporting pastors, making vestments, and educating daughters of the nobility about the faith. But instead of disappearing into this order completely, she heard the word of God from the mouth of Johannes Bugenhagen, a known lecturer among the Premonstratensians who came around to Luther’s teachings.

Moved by the love of God’s word, Elisabeth left the safety and stability of her convent and followed Bugenhagen to Wittenberg, where the Reformation was in full swing. Bugenhagen’s family immediately took her in and cared for her like she was their own. Surely, they knew of the great sacrifice she made to follow him—after all, her whole life rested within the confines of that convent. After this great act of faith, even her family was of no worth to her, as they disowned her when they heard of her conversion to Lutheranism.

She quickly grew popular in the ranks of Luther’s followers, meeting a lovely scholar named Caspar Cruciger and marrying him, much to the delight of Bugenhagen and his family. She was quite close to the Luthers as well, so much so that her daughter Elisabeth ended up marrying Luther’s son John.

But her greatest gift to the world was her hymn, “The Only Son from Heaven” which excited Luther so much that he insisted it be placed in the Erfurt Enchiridion, one of the first hymnals of the Lutheran Reformation. It showed how devoted and selfless she was to chase down God’s love and find a new family in the arms of the ones who’d spark a religious revolution.

If you’re interested in seeing the hymn for yourself, we have it in the Rare Books Collection and in the Open Stacks! Check it out:

Das Erfurter Enchiridion gedruckt zu Erfurt in der Permentergassen zum Ferbefass, 1524
Call Number: M2138.A2 E56 1929
Publication Date: 1524
And if you want to learn more about the Crucigers and their contributions to Lutheranism, check this out:
Cover ArtDie Crucigers by Armin Kohnle (Editor); Irene Dingel (Editor)
Call Number: BR315 .C783 2021
ISBN: 9783374068074
Publication Date: 2021-03-01

 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.


Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library • 801 Seminary Place • St. Louis, MO 63105
Founded by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
circulation desk: 314-505-7030
CHAT 24/7 |

All guides licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.