A Widower's Lament: The Pious Meditations of Johann Christoph Oelhafen

Ronald K. Rittgers


Fortress Press

Lament is essential to human thriving. It allows us to cope with significant loss, an inescapable feature of our mortal existence. Lament is the passionate outpouring of deep sorrow and grief over such loss, which helps us avoid being completely overcome by the strong emotions that come with it. Lament is cathartic and constructive. It is a necessary step in coming to terms with great loss and moving forward in life. Not to lament is not to live--or at least not to live very fully, deeply, or well.

This book deals with one instance of Christian lament in the late Reformation by exploring the efforts of a talented yet little-known layman to cope with the death of his beloved wife. For the first time, it provides full access to the remarkable work of private devotion that he authored to express his lament. A work of haunting candor, impressive artistry, and searching faith, The Pious Meditations is an extraordinarily rare and valuable source that has received very little scholarly attention. It furnishes both fresh insight into life in the past and important resources for life in the present. Written in a period that knew no radical separation between the academy and the church, it was informed by the author's experience in both, and can continue to speak to both today.