Otfrid of Weissenburg (c. 800 - after 870) was a monk at the abbey of Weissenburg (modern-day Wissembourg in Alsace) and the author of a gospel harmony in rhyming couplets now called the Evangelienbuch. It is written in the South Rhine Franconian dialect of Old High German. Otfrid is the first German poet whose name we know from his work. He studied under Hrabanus Maurus at Fulda and had moved to Weissenburg by 830. Apart from the Evangelienbuch, he is the author of a number of works in Latin, including biblical commentary and glossaries. With 7104 couplets, the Evangelienbuch is the first substantial literary work and the first use of rhyme in German literature – surviving earlier German poetry is alliterative. It is not certain whether Otfrid's choice of form was inspired by Latin models or by vernacular verse which has not survived – Otfrid himself mentions laicorum cantus obscenus ("obscene song of the laiety"), of which there are no survivals. Otfrid was fully aware of the novelty of his undertaking: the work starts with a section headed 'Cur scriptor hunc librum theotisce dictaverit' ('Why the author has written this book in the vernacular') explaining the reasons for writing in his native dialect rather than in the Latin one would expect for a religious work.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Otfrid von Weissenburg: Gospel harmony": Otfrid von Weißenburg: Evangelienharmonie facsimile edition, published by Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1972Request Info / Price