Above: University of Copenhagen
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-30701
BERNHARDT SEVERIN INGEMANN (MAY 28, 1789-FEBRUARY 24, 1862)
Danish Lutheran Author and Hymn Writer
Bernhardt Severin Ingemann, born on Falster Island, in the Baltic Sea, was the son of the local Lutheran (Church of Denmark) minister. Our saint survived some traumatic early experiences. He, a student at the University of Copenhagen starting in 1806, defended the city against the British in 1807. His apartment (and his early poetic works) burned in the foreign attack. Two years later an epidemic claimed his mother, three brothers, and a niece. These experiences influenced much of his work and contributed to the fact that
Ingemann was a sensitive, soft-spoken man with few friends.
–Marilyn Kay Stalken, Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1981, page 406)
Ingemann, engaged to Lucie Madie, his future wife, in 1812, got on with life. He completed his education at the University of Copenhagen in 1813 and became a tutor at Walkendorf’s Collegium. His published works earned him sufficient public respect that, in 1817-1819, the Danish government sponsored him to travel and study in Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland. In 1822 he became Professor of Literature at the Academy of Soro, Zeeland.
Our saint’s collected works filled thirty-four volumes. He was the second most popular author of Danish children’s stories behind his good friend, Hans Christian Andersen. Ingemann, a prolific author of poems, novels, and historical epics which contributed greatly to Danish nationalism, prepared the 1855 psalter for the Church of Denmark.
Among the hymns Ingemann composed was the following, translated by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1867 and 1875:
Through the night of doubt and sorrow
Onward goes the pilgrim’s hand,
Singing songs of expectation,
Marching to the promised land;
Clear before as through the darkness
Gleams and burns the guiding light;
Brother clasps the hand of brother,
Stepping fearless through the night.
One the light of God’s own presence
O’er His ransomed people shed,
Chasing for the gloom and terror,
Brightening all the path we tread;
One the object of our journey,
One the faith which never tires,
One the earnest looking forward,
One the hope our God inspires.
One the strain that lips of thousands
Lift as from the heart of one,
One the conflict, one the peril,
One the march in God begun;
One the gladness of rejoicing
On the far eternal shore,
Where the One Almighty Father
Reigns in love forevermore.
Onward, therefore, pilgrim brothers,
Onward, with the cross our aid;
Bear its shame, and fight its battle,
Till we rest beneath its shade;
Soon shall come the great awaking,
Soon the rending of the tomb ,
Then the scattering of all shadows
And the end of toil and gloom.
The analysis of the analysis of the hymn, according to William Chalmers Covert and Calvin Weiss Laufer, Handbook to The Hymnal (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1935), follows:
The strength of the lines even in translation bears witness to the author’s virile and inclusive faith.
Ingemann understood well that it is easy to have deep faith during good times but that, when the chips are down, the true test of faith occurs. He had such faith.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 10, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF JOHANN SCHEFFLER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:
You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Bernhardt Severin Ingemann.
Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,
and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21
Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61
Revised on December 9, 2016