Feast of Jaroslav Vajda (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  Jaroslav Vajda

Image Source = hymntime.com

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JAROSLAV JAN VAJDA (APRIL 28, 1919-MAY 10, 2008)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

Jaroslav Vajda was a hymn writer who, in his words, sought to

raise the level of wonder and appreciation of God’s awesome creation, justification, and sanctification.

–Quoted in Paul Westermeyer, With Tongues of Fire:  Profiles in 20th-Century Hymn Writing (St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1995), page 153

Vajda grew up in the old Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church (1902-1971), later renamed the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and , since 1971, the SELC District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.  Our saint, born in Lorain, Ohio, on April 28, 1919, was a son of a minister.  Vajda studied in Racine, Wisconsin; and East Chicago, Indiana; before attending Concordia Junior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Class of 1938); and Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (B.A., 1941; M.Div., 1944).  He interned at Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Central City, Pennsylvania.  Our saint was an intellectually active person interested in Slovak culture and language, as evidenced by his thesis, a history of Jiri Tranovsky‘s Cithara Sanctorum (1636), or Harp of the Saints, a hymnal containing 414 texts.  As a young man he had mastered the Slovak language, completing his first translation from Slovak at the age of 21 years.  He was also a talented poet in the English language.  Vadja began to compose poetry at the age of 18 years.  At that age, when he submitted some poems to The Cresset, a literary magazine of the Missouri Synod, he received positive and encouraging feedback.

Vajda was a minister and a married man.  In 1945 he married Louise Mastaglio of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the couple went on to have four children.  Our saint served on the parish, denominational, and ecumenical levels.  The congregations he served were:

  1. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Cranesville, Pennsylvania (1945-1949), a bilingual Slovak-English congregation, as pastor;
  2. Our Blessed Savior Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Pennsylvania (1949-1953), as pastor;
  3. St. John’s Lutheran Church, Brackenridge, Pennsylvania (1953-1963), a bilingual Slovak-English congregation, as pastor; and
  4. St. Lucas Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Missouri (1963-1976), as assistant pastor.

Beyond the parish level Vadja edited The Lutheran Beacon, of the Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church, from 1959 to 1963; edited This Day, a family magazine of the Missouri Synod, from 1963 to 1971; served on the Missouri Synod’s Commission on Worship from 1960 to 1978; served on the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship from 1967 to 1978, and therefore helped to create the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978); served on the committee that created the Worship Supplement (1969); and edited and developed books for Concordia Publishing House from 1971 until 1986, when he retired.

Vajda translated hymns of Jiri Tranovsky (1592-1637), the Luther of the Slavs and the Father of Slovak Hymnody, from Slovak and composed many original hymns.  The oldest translation by our saint of a text from Tranovsky I have found dates to 1960.  Vajda, by his own accounts, wrote his first hymn in 1968, at the age of 49 years, and composed most of his texts after he retired, at the age of 67 years, in 1986.  Our saint’s contributions to hymnody were numerous and impressive, numbering 225.  (Aside:  Concordia Publishing House sells Sing Peace, Sing Gift of Peace:  The Comprehensive Hymnary of Jaroslav J. Vajda.)  Paul Westermeyer, in With Tongues of Fire (1995), listed 179 hymn titles alphabetically.  Not surprisingly, the greatest concentrations of Vajda’s hymns, apart from dedicated volumes, have been in Lutheran hymnals, given the confessional Lutheran theology in the texts.  My survey of hymnals and hymnal supplements of the main two Lutheran denominations in the United States has yielded the following counts of hymns by our saint:

  1. Worship Supplement (1969)–4,
  2. Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)–9,
  3. Lutheran Worship (1982)-5,
  4. With One Voice (1995)–3,
  5. Hymnal Supplement 98 (1998)–7,
  6. Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006)–6, and
  7. Lutheran Service Book (2006)–10.

Vajda, a longtime member of the Hymn Society of America, became a fellow of that organization in 1988.

Vajda, the recipient of many honorary doctorates, was a cultured man.  He studied Slovak Lutheran hymnody extensively.  He even wrote the article “Slovak Hymnody” for the excellent Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1981), a fine reference work and one of the best of the hymnal companion volumes.  Our saint also played the violin and translated works from Slovak into English.  Aside from hymns by Tranovksy, Vajda translated Bloody Sonnets (1950), Slovak Christmas (1960), Janko Kral (1972), An Anthology of Slovak Literature (1976), and an operatic libretto, Zuzanka Hraskovia (1978).  Original writings, aside from hymns, included They Followed the King (1963), Follow the King (1977), and Men and Women of the Bible:  45 Meditations on Biblical Heroes of the Faith (1996).

Vajda died, aged 89 years, at Webster Groves, Ohio, on May 10, 2008.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT; ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Jaroslav Jan Vajda and others, who have composed and translated hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of William Cowper (April 26)   2 comments

Above:  William Cowper

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM COWPER (NOVEMBER 15, 1731-APRIL 25, 1800)

Anglican Hymn Writer

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Of all the men that I ever heard pray, no one equaled Mr. Cowper.

–Andrew Fuller of Olney, England, 1776

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Wiliam Cowper, great English poet and hymn writer, struggled with depression throughout his life.  Our saint, born at Hertfordshire, on November 15, 1731, was the son of John C. Cowper, the Anglican rector there and a chaplain to King George III.  Our saint, attached to his mother, lost her to death when he was six years old.  Young William, a shy boy, suffered due to bullies as he grew up.

Cowper honored his family’s wishes and went into the legal profession.  He became an apprentice at age 18 and studied law at Westminster.  Cowper gained admission to the bar in 1754.  He proposed marriage to cousin Theodora Cowper, but her father prevented the union.  From 1759 to 1763 our saint served as the Commissioner of Bankrupts.  In 1763 Cowper served briefly as the Clerk of Journals for the House of Lords, but could not bear to speak in public.  Our saint’s first attempted suicide ended that job and led to about a year at the asylum at St. Albans.

At this point I step aside from the narrative of Cowper’s life to make some comments.  Sources I have consulted indicate that he, citing his at least two suicide attempts, considered himself damned.  At least, according to my sources, had long periods of time during which he thought he was bound for Hell.  I know that the reason tor this was the traditional heresy that suicide leads to damnation.  Suicide and attempted suicide are difficult topics.  Those acts result from hopelessness.  I do not suffer, as Cowper did, but I do know what it is to be suicidal and to think that going on with life is not a feasible option.  I am grateful that I was able to push through those circumstances.  I also sympathize with Cowper.

Cowper rebuilt his life after his release from the asylum.  The Reverend Morely Unwin and his family took our saint into their household at Huntingdon.  Cowper met John Newton (1725-1807), the Curate of Olney, in 1767 when the famous priest came to express his condolences after Morely had died.  Afterward Mary Unwin (Morely’s widow) and Cowper moved to Olney.  Our saint became Newton’s lay assistant and visited parishioners.  Cowper also contributed 67 texts to Olney Hymns (1779), which he and Newton edited.

Cowper, a skilled writer, created great art out of his distress.  For example, the great hymn “O For a Closer Walk With God” (December 9, 1769), originally six stanzas, came from a time when Mary Unwin, his friend, was critically ill.  At that time Cowper wrote a friend:

Oh for no will but the will of my heavenly Father!…She is the chief of blessings I have met with in my journeys since the Lord was pleased to call me…Her illness has been a sharp trial to me.  Oh, that it may have a sanctified effect, that I may rejoice to surrender up to the Lord my dearest comforts, the moment He may require them….I began to compose the verses yesterday morning before daybreak, but fell asleep at the end of the first two lines; when I waked again, the third and fourth were whispered to my heart in a way which I have often experienced.

–Quoted in Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (St. Louis, MO:  Eden Publishing House, 1952), page 356

Mary recovered and went on to live for many more years.  In 1773 they planned to become husband and wife, but his mental distress ended the engagement.  This prompted Cowper’s second attempt at suicide.  He recovered, took up gardening as a hobby, and began to keep pets.  In 1795 Mary became an invalid.  Cowper served as her caregiver until she died the following year.

Cowper wrote hymns (at least 67 of them), translated works of Homer, and wrote several original volumes.  In 1791 he began to collect an annual pension of 300 pounds.  He remained a withdrawn man, one who required hours of preparation before praying in public.  Perhaps being so withdrawn helped with his writing.

One text, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” (1774), which he wrote a few months after a suicide attempt, has earned a reputation as the greatest hymn on the topic of providence.

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

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Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never-failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs,

And works His sovereign will.

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Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.

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Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

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His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

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Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

–Quoted in The Hymnal (1895), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Cowper, who would have benefited from better therapy, had he lived during later times, died on April 25, 1800.  He was 68 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT; ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

William Cowper and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of George Washington Doane and William Croswell Doane (April 27)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE (MAY 27, 1799-APRIL 27, 1859)

Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey

father of

WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE (MARCH 2, 1832-MAY 17, 1913)

Episcopal Bishop of Albany

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Above:  George Washington Doane 

Image in the Public Domain

George Washington Doane was a bishop.  He entered the world on May 27, 1799, at Trenton, New Jersey.  Bishop John Henry Hobart of New York ordained him deacon then priest in 1823.  Father Doane founded St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York.  He also taught at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, from 1824 to 1828, and served Christ Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts from 1828 to 1832, as Assistant Rector then Rector.  In 1832 Doane became Bishop of New Jersey, a position he held for the remainder of his life.  Much of his episcopal legacy rests on the founding of parochial schools.  Also, Doane was a High Churchman at a time when chanting, bowing to altars, and lighting candles could lead to major theological altercations.

Doane’s son, William Croswell Doane, became the Bishop of Albany, in the state of New York.

Bishop George Washington Doane wrote the hymns, “Thou Art the Way” and “Softly Now the Light of Day.

He died on April 27, 1859.

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Above:  William Croswell Doane

Image in the Public Domain

William Croswell Doane was also a bishop.  He entered the world on March 2, 1832, in Boston, Massachusetts.  His father, George Washington Doane, ordained Doane, Jr., to the diaconate in 1853 and the priesthood three years later.  In the 1850s and 1860s Doane, Jr., served churches in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut; Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a parishioner in Hartford, Connecticut.  Doane Jr., like his father, was a High Churchman when that was controversial.  These ritualistic tendencies prompted evangelical (low church) opposition to his 1868 election as Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Albany, in the state of New York.  Bishop Doane of Albany oversaw the construction of the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany.  (J. P. Morgan contributed to the financing of the cathedral.)  Cathedrals were not commonplace in Episcopal dioceses at the time, unlike today.

William Croswell Doane died in office on May 17,  1913.

His main legacy for church members today is the hymn, “Ancient of Days.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church, including your servants

George Washington Doane and William Croswell Doane.

May the memory of their lives be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3;14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Genocide Remembrance (April 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Telegram to U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing, July 16, 1915

Image in the Public Domain

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Who, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?

–Adolf Hitler

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire commenced the infamous and frequently denied Armenian Genocide, of which too many people are ignorant.  About 1.5 million Armenians died during that genocide, which successive Turkish governments have refused to call a genocide, to their discredit.  Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt called the genocide the greatest crime to World War I, to his credit.  In 1965 Congressman and future President Gerald Ford marked the fiftieth anniversary of the genocide in the U.S. House of Representatives, to his credit. In 1978, to his credit, Jimmy Carter became the first sitting President of the United States to use the word “genocide” to describe that Ottoman policy.  Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush also made strong statements while in office, to their credit.

The Episcopal Church recognizes April 24 as the day for Genocide Remembrance.  The text for this day in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) begins:

This day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide:  the systematic and international destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people.

When one hears the word “genocide,” one might think first of the Holocaust during World War II or of the events in Rwanda in the 1990s or the humanitarian atrocities in the Balkans in the 1990s or of the inhumanity of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s.  That is a partial list of genocides.  We should not forget the Armenian Genocide and neglect to call it what it was–genocide–either.  Nor should we neglect to recognize other genocides.  Most of all, we should act to make “never again” more than an empty platitude.  Respect for human dignity requires nothing less.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock,

your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth:

Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil,

and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were,

not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression,

and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 2:2-5

Psalm 70

Revelation 7:13-17

Matthew 2:13-18

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 343

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Feast of the Inauguration of The United Methodist Church (April 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Cross and Flame Logo of The United Methodist Church

Image in the Public Domain

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THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Constituted at Dallas, Texas, on April 23, 1968

In 1968 The Methodist Church (1939-1968) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968), both results of mergers of denominations with roots in the 1700s, united.  Originally language had been the main reason for them not being one denomination; the predecessors of the Evangelical United Brethren Church used German.  The language barrier fell over time, however.

My theological formation occurred in a series of United Methodist parsonages in the South Georgia Conference.  There I learned much about the Bible that has continued to influence my life in positive ways.  There I also learned much about the Bible that I went on to learn was not accurate.  My father mostly served rural congregations in which even a ministerial robe smacked too much of Roman Catholicism for the parishioners.  My experiences as a United Methodist (1980-1991) were mixed.  I came to despise The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal (1938) and adore The Methodist Hymnal (1966), which many of the churches my father served condemned as being elitist.  Since I had a limited frame of reference, I could not identify conclusively what bothered me in general about church until I saw worship in The Episcopal Church.  Then I began to realize that I was on earth to be an Episcopalian.  So I became one on December 22, 1991.  I have been content with that choice since.  In the words of someone with whom I engaged in conversation years ago, I left the church John Wesley made for the church that made John Wesley.  Certainly I have learned much more about church history after the Apostles and prior to the Reformation since becoming an Episcopalian.

My experiences occurred in a particular context–rural Southern Methodism, as opposed to the more liberal, formal, urban variety, complete with Gothic buildings.  That sort of Methodism would have been more to my liking.  Stylistically the United Methodism of my youth was similar to the dominant Southern Baptist religious culture in those communities.  (According to an old joke, Methodists are Baptists who can read.)  In 1996 the religious context of my youth became more clear to me as I watched the every-four-years dual-biography of the major presidential candidates.  The documentary explained the essence of Methodism in Kansas, in the context of Robert J. Dole.  I realized that I preferred the Kansas variety of Methodism to that dominant in the South Georgia Conference.

I have remained much fonder of the The United Methodist Church as a denomination than of any of the congregations thereof to which I have belonged.  The Social Principles (a document worth reading) have long been more progressive than many members would like, if they knew about them, for example.  I have evolved into an Anglican-Lutheran-Catholic, going so far as to accept Single Predestination and a canon of 73 books, so I have come to regard United Methodist congregations as ecumenical partners and places where I engage in community volunteering, not as churches I would ever consider joining.  Nevertheless, the influence of the United Methodism of my youth was mostly positive.  It taught me, for example, that the ordination of women should just be a given and that God does not discriminate on the basis of X and Y chromosomes.

May The United Methodist Church and its successors (via mergers) continue to serve Christ faithfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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O God, who to an expectant and united Church granted at Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit,

and has wonderfully brought into one fold those who now worship here:

Grant, we ask you, the help of the same Spirit in all our life and worship,

that we may expect great things from you, and attempt great things for you,

and being one one in you may show you to the world into which you sent Jesus Christ our Lord,

to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

Ezekiel 37:15-22

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:1-16

John 17:20-26

–Adapted from The Book of Common Worship (1962), The Church of South India

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Feast of Walter Russell Bowie (April 23)   1 comment

Above:  The Bowies’ Gravestone

Image Source = Find a Grave

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WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE (OCTOBER 8, 1882-APRIL 23, 1969)

Episcopal Priest, Seminary Professor, and Hymn Writer

Walter Russell Bowie was a Virginian.  He, born in Richmond, Virginia, on October 8, 1882, studied at The Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, before matriculating at Harvard University.  At Harvard he and Franklin Delano Roosevelt edited The Crimson.  Our saint graduated with his B.A. in 1904 and his M.A. the following year.   Next Bowie attended Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia (B.D., 1908).  He, ordained to the diaconate in 1908 and to the priesthood the following year, married Jean Laverack (1881-1963) in 1909.  The couple went on to raise four children.

Bowie, a proponent of the Social Gospel, served on the parish level and beyond.  He was Rector of Emmanuel Church, Greenwood, Connecticut (1908-1911); St. Paul’s Church, Richmond, Virginia (1911-1923); and Grace Church, New York, New York (1923-1939), doubling as a hospital chaplain in France during World War I.  His social conscience compelled him to join the anti-xenophobic American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born in the 1920s.  Bowie lectured at Yale Divinity School (1935) and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (1939).  In 1939 our saint became Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of Students at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.  Then, in 1950, he departed for Alexandria, Virginia, to become Professor of Homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary.  While at Alexandria, our saint edited The Southern Churchman.  He retired from the seminary in 1955.  During Bowie’s years as an academic he also served on the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches and helped to translate the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.  He was also the Associate Editor of Exposition for The Interpreter’s Bible (12 volumes, 1951-1957).

Bowie was a prolific author.  He published many sermons as well as books.  Audiences ranged from children to adults and genres included biographies, current events, church dramas, and the Bible.  (One can find many of these works at archive.org and Worldcat.)  Bowie also wrote hymn texts, which manifested his social conscience.  Those hymns included the following:

  1. Lord Christ, When First Thou Cam’st to Men;”
  2. Lord, Through Changing Days, Unchanging;”
  3. O Holy City Seen of John;”
  4. God of the Nations, Who, from Dawn of Days;” and
  5. Lovely to the Outward Eye.”

I also found the following text from 1914 and set to the tune ELLACOMBE (“The Day of Resurrection!  Earth Tell It Out Abroad”):

O ye who dare go forth with God,

Behold the flag unfurled

And hear His trumpet’s challenge ring

Across the answering world:

For His great war with sin and shame,

Though coward hearts refuse–

Go draw the sword that in His name

You shall find strength to use.

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The citadels He bids you storm

Are walled with ancient wrong;

The foes He bids you shock against

Are insolent and strong;

Where fleshly lusts and greed for gain

Make dens for souls to die–

For rescue from that poisoned pain

The bitter voices cry:

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The bitter voice goes up to God

From the dark house of shame;

‘Mid iron wheels of driving toil

And from the men they maim;

From ev’ry stricken child who lies

In some foul room and drear;

From those who walk with sodden eyes,

To whom no hopes walk with sodden eyes,

To whom no hopes come near.

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Where sordidness and pain and sin

Cry for th’avenging sword,

Where selfish ease and indolence

Call for the blazing sword,

There God’s clear trumpet summons those

Who dare to face the wrong

And launch against His Spirit’s foes

The strength which He makes strong.

Bowie died in Alexandria, Virginia, on April 23, 1969.  He was 86 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENNETT J. SIMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF COMPEIGNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT NERSES LAMPRONATS, ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF TARSUS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WHITE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Walter Russell Bowie,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Johann Walter (April 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Luther Rose

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHANN WALTER (1496-MARCH 25, 1570)

“First Cantor of the Lutheran Church”

Also known as Johann Walther and Johannes Walter

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod celebrates the life and legacy of Johann Walter on April 24.  On my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, his feast day is April 23.

Walter was a native of Kahla, Thuringia.  He, born in 1496, studied in Kahla and Rochlitz before matriculating at the University of Leipzig in 1521.  He, who had experience as a chorister, sang bass in the court of Frederick III “the Wise,” Elector of Saxony (reigned 1486-1525).  In 1524 and 1525 Walter collaborated with Martin Luther.  He edited the Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn (1524), a collection of polyphonic motets.  Our saint also adapted music for use in the reformer’s German Mass.  In 1526 Walter started a new job–cantor at Torgau, with duties to teach music to boys and to direct music in the parish church.  He did that until 1548, when he became the kappelmeister to Maurice, Elector of Saxony (reigned 1547-1553).  Walter’s last job ended in 1554, when he, aged 60 years, became a pensioner.  Then he returned to Torgau, where he died on March 25, 1570.

Walter’s main contribution to Lutheran hymnody was musical.  He did, however, compose some texts, such as the one translated into English as “The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us,” originally 33 stanzas in German.  English translations, however, have been much briefer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 10:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALEN POSTEL, FOUNDER OF THE POOR DAUGHTERS OF MERCY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ALFRED TAYLOR RYGH, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN MOORE WALKER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Johann Walter)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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