Christern Schrock: A Clue

Meyer has found this text that may give us a clue to who wrote Copenhagen's Dance of Death - and when.

In the back of the book "En sermon huorledis mand skal berede sin hw til døden. Mart. Lutther Fordansket aff Christern Schrock. S. MDXXXVIII" (i.e.: A sermon [about] how one should prepare one's mind to death. Martin Luther translated by Christern Schrock. Svendborg, 1538) there's a poem illustrated with a picture of Death on the lion.

The picture is one that also appears in Lübeck's and Copenhagen's dance of death books, but this is not surprising since the printer, Hans Vingaard, had bought the plates and these appear in many other contemporary books. In particular, of course, in Copenhagen's Dance of Death.

Mohnkopf, Christern Schrock

flowerDøden til Læseren

Jeg vancker omkring i alle land.
Jeg sparer huercken quinde eller mand
Wnge och gamle store oc smaa.
Strax ieg komer schulle met meg gaa.
Førster oc konger haffue for meg ey fred
The skulle her følge almuens seed.
Store slott oc meget guld.
Kand icke giøre mig thennom huld.
Kiøbmen oc bønder, prester oc muncke.
Wil ieg alle i iorden ned siuncke.
Embesmend eller huo the helst ære.
Skulle icke lenge for meg være.
Som tyffuen om natthen i bondens huss
Gaar ind, naar hand haffuer sluct sit lius
Och tager ther vdt mett en fart.
Alt thet bonden vilde haffue bespart.
Saa riider ieg oc til huermand i gaar.
Naar hand at leffue achter mange aar.
Rige oc stercke ieg helst borttager.
Siuge oc arme igen her lader.
Saa er ieg een vforuarendis gest.
Oc suiger alle som meg tro best.
Thi vochter [pa]a meg aarle oc silde
Saa kunde i icke fare ilde.
Di alle denn[e]m som paa Gud tro.
Sender ieg til den ewige ro.
flowerDeath to the Reader

I walk around in all countries.
I spare neither woman nor man
Young and old, great and small
As soon as I come [they] must go with me.
Princes and kings I never give any peace
they should follow the common people's customs.
Great castles and lots of gold
can not make me fond of them.
Merchants and peasants, priests and monks
I will drop them all into the earth.
Craftsmen or who they honour most
should not be left alone by me for long.
Like the thief in the night in the peasant's house
[I] walk in when he has turned out his light
and take out in haste
all that the peasant would have saved.
Then I ride to everyman(1) in the courtyard
when he intends to live many years.
Rich and strong [people] I prefer to take away.
Sick and poor [people] I leave.
Thus I am an unexpected guest
and deceive everybody who believes in me.
Therefore watch out for me early and late
then you cannot go wrong.
Because all those who believe in God
I am sending to the eternal rest.

This poem reminds of Lübeck's dance of death: Death appears personified and speaking and he doesn't make a distinction between poor and rich, high and low, young and old etc. etc. We are also warned to be prepared for Death who comes unexpectedly(2) - as a thief in the night.

You might guess that this poem was written by Schrock and that he also wrote Copenhagen's Dance of Death about 1538. This time period fits in with the year 1536 that's written on the cover of the Danish dance of death.

External link

Related information:

Footnotes: (1) (2)

Meyer suggests that this might be a reference to the "morall playe" of "eueryman and dethe".
All this also holds true for "eueryman", which, especially in the beginning, has strong parallels with the dance of death. Here's a quote, where Everyman is trying to bribe Death:

Euery man. O deth thou comest whan I had ye least in mynde
In thy power it lyeth me to saue
Yet of my good wyl I gyue ye yf thou wyl be kynde
Ye a thousand pound shalte thou haue
And dyffere this mater tyll an other daye

Dethe. Euery man it may not be by no waye
I set not by golde syluer nor rychesse
Nor by pope emperour kynge duke ne prynces
For and I wolde receyue gyftes grete
All the worlde I myght gete
But my custome is clene contrary
I gyue the no respyte come hens and not tary.