The works of Angelus Silesius

In 1657 Silesius published under the title Heilige Seelenlust, oder geistliche Hirtenlieder der in ihren Jesum verliebten Psyche (1657), a collection of 205 hymns, the most beautiful of which, such as, Liebe, die du mich zum Bilde deiner Gottheit hast gemacht and Mir nach, spricht Christus, unser Held, have been adopted in the German Protestant hymnal.


More remarkable, however, is his Geistreiche Sinn-und Schluss-reime (1657), afterwards called Cherubinischer Wandersmann (“The Cherubic Pilgrim”)(1674). This is a collection of Reimsprüche or rhymed distichs embodying a strange mystical panentheism drawn mainly from the writings of Jakob Böhme and his followers. Silesius also delighted specially in the subtle paradoxes of mysticism. The essence of God, for instance, he held to be love; God, he said, can love nothing inferior to himself; but he cannot be an object of love to himself without going out, so to speak, of himself, without manifesting his infinity in a finite form; in other words, by becoming man. God and man are therefore essentially one.

The Catholic Encyclopedia defends Silesius from the charge of panentheism. His prose writings are orthodox; “The Cherubic Pilgrim” was published with the ecclesiastical Imprimatur, and, in his preface, the author himself explains his “paradoxes” in an orthodox sense, and repudiates any future pantheistic interpretation.

Silesius also wrote prose, notably a series of tracts against Protestantism, published under the title Ecclesiologia.

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