Reiner Brocmann (also Brockmann)—pastor, ceremonial poet, and translator—was born in 1609 in Schwan-Grändzdorf in Mecklenburg, Germany. He studied theology in Hamburg and later transferred to Rostock. Beginning in 1634, he taught as a professor of Greek at Tallinn Gymnasium, and in 1639, he became a pastor in Kadrina.
Brocmann is possibly best known for his translations of hymns into Estonian; however, he is also considered to be the first Estonian writer of secular songs. He wrote German, Latin, Greek, and Estonian ceremonial poetry and translated numerous songs for Estonian church hymnals. Much of his work was modeled after his friend Paul Fleming, who was a student of the German poetic theorist Martin Opitz, but his ceremonial poetry also imitated classical high style traditions. Subsequently, German poetic influences made their way into the newly awakened Estonian secular poetic culture.
In 1637, Brocmann published the only written Estonian wedding song at that time: “Carmen Alexandrinum Esthonicum ad leges Opitij poeticas compositum” (‘Estonian Song in Alexandrine Created According to the Poetics of Martin Opitz’). In subsequent years, he went on to publish two more wedding songs: “Oda Esthonica Jambico-Trochaica” (‘An Estonian Iambic-Trochaic Ode”, 1638) and “Oda Esthonica Trochaica” (‘An Estonian Trochaic Ode’, 1639). Later he translated twenty-one songs to accomodate rhythm and rhyme for the second printing of the hymnal “Neu Ehstnisches Gesangbuch” (‘The New Estonian Songbook’, 1656). In the original handbook, poetic form had been unaccounted for in the translations.
Brocmann’s acquaintance with Estonian verse extended beyond ceremonial songs and hymns. He assisted with the edits of the second printing of H. Stahl’s Kodu- ja käsiraamat (‘Home- and Handbook’) and went on to inspire other 17th century poets. Most of Estonian wedding songs of the time period are preserved in the volumes “Vota nuptialia” (1637–44) in the Tallinn Central Archives.
Reiner Brocmann died in Tallinn in 1647 and was buried in Oleviste Church.
Books in Estonian
Teosed = Ρεινερου Βροκμαννου ποιηματα = Reineri Brockmanni opera = Reiner Brockmann's Werke. Koostanud ja toimetanud Endel Priidel. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2000, 325 lk.