The parish clerk

The parish clerk
The parish clerk

The parish clerk

Ach, Dot, mot it sin gedan,
Nu ik erst to denen began!
In miner Kosterie mende ik klar,
Noch hogher to komen vorwar,
En grot Officium was min Sin,
Alse mi dunckt, so krige ik nin.
Ik mach des nicht gebruken,
De Dot wil mi vorsluken.

Alas Death, must it be done
now that I had just started to serve?
In my position as a clerk I thought clearly
that I could rise even higher.
A great post was my goal.
As methinks, I don't get any,
I couldn't use it.
Death will swallow me.

Death answers the parish clerk

Al werstu hogher gheresen,
In groter Var mustestu wesen,
It is diner Sele meiste Profit,
Dat gi nicht hogher resen sit.
Volghe na in mine Partie,
Wente hoch sin maket Hovardie,
Dat is al jeghen God.
Amtman, tret an, it is nen Spot.

Had you risen higher [in rank]
you would have been in greater danger.
It is best for your soul,
that you have not risen higher.
Follow me in my company,
Because to be high [in rank] makes haughtiness.
That is all against God.
Craftsman, step in, this is no joke!

The red area shows the location in the chapel in Lübeck
Location
The painting in St. Mary's Church in Lübeck.
Lübeck #6

We are now at the eastern side of the chapel — just below the famous "Totentanzorgel" that Dietrich Buxtehude and probably Johann Sebastian Bach had played upon.

The dance of death below the Dance of Death Organ.
Dance of death with Organ
Head in the middle of the frame.
Console

At the foot of the organ is a man's head of tree, and the frame of the dance of death painting has been cut in order to make room for this head.

Most books assume that it's a console figure, but Wilhelm Mantels points out that the head is not connected to the foot of the organ.(1) This makes it something of a mystery: Whose head is this, and why was it so important that it was necessary to cut into the frame of the painting?

The head wears a turban and is thought to portray a prophet, maybe David. He appears to have closed his eyes, but later photos show how eyes have been painted on the lids (see for yourself).

Footnotes: (1)

Wilhelm Mantels: Ich hielt ihn bisher für eine Schlussverzierung des Orgelfusses. Eine Besichtigung nahebei hat aber gezeigt, dass er mit der Orgel gar nicht zusammenhängt. Er ist von einer schmalen Leiste eingefasst, von Holz, an den Extremitäten unten mit Leinewand überzogen, auf dieser Kreidegrund aufgetragen, über dem Spuren von Vergoldung erkenntlich sind.
Quote from Anzeiger für Kunde der deutschen Vorzeit, 1873