1724 – Born on the 2nd of July in Quedlinburg, Germany.
1745 – In September, he delivered on quitting school a remarkable "leaving oration" on epic poetry; Abschiedsrede über die epische Poesie, kultur- und literargeschichtlich erläutert–and next proceeded to Jena as a student of theology, where he elaborated the first three cantos of the Messias in prose.
1746 – He removed in the spring to Leipzig, and here joined the circle of young men of letters who contributed to the Bremer Beiträge.
1747 – In Leipzig he also wrote a number of odes, the best known of which is An meine Freunde.
1748 – His first three cantos of the Messias in hexameters were anonymously published.
– He left the university and became a private tutor in the family of a relative at Langensalza.
1754 – Married Margareta (Meta) Möller, (the "Cidli" of his odes), an enthusiastic admirer of his poetry.
1770 – On the dismissal by King Christian VII of Count Bernstorff from office, he retired with the latter to Hamburg, but retained his pension together with the rank of councillor of legation.
1773 – He issued the last five cantos of the Messias.
1775 – He travelled south, and making the acquaintance of Goethe on the way, spent a year at the court of the margrave of Baden at Karlsruhe.
1776 – With the title of Hofrath and a pension from the margrave, which he retained together with that from the king of Denmark, he returned to Hamburg where he spent the remainder of his life.
1803 – He died at Hamburg on the 14th of March, mourned by all Germany, and was buried with great pomp and ceremony by the side of his first wife in the churchyard of the village of Ottensen.