Feast of Ozora Stearns Davis (March 15)   Leave a comment

n079535

Above:  Ozora Stearns Davis in 1925

Image Source = Library of Congress

Image Creator = Chicago Daily News, Inc.

DN-0079535, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum

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OZORA STEARNS DAVIS (JULY 30, 1866-MARCH 15, 1931)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

Ozora Stearns Davis, born at Wheelock, Vermont, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1889 then from Hartford Theological Seminary then from the University of Leipzig.  He, ordained in 1896, served the following churches:

  1. First Congregational Church, Springfield, Vermont, founded in 1832 (1896-1900);
  2. Central Congregational Church, Newtonville, Newton, Massachusetts (founded in 1868 (1900-1904); and
  3. South Congregational Church, New Britain, Connecticut, founded in 1842 (1904-1909).

Davis left parish ministry to become the President of Chicago Theological Seminary (1909-1920).  And, from 1927 to 1929, he served as the moderator of the National Council of Congregational Churches.  Failing health forced Davis to resign.  As the Handbook to The Hymnal (1935), page 195, states:

Preceding his death on March 15, 1931, Dr. Davis gave to the world a noble example of a Christian’s approaching the end of life in his prime.  Under a time schedule set by the usual progress of his disease he continually challenged the world with his calm spirit and cheering view of the future as death was about to disclose it.

Davis died near Kansas City, Missouri, while traveling with Grace, his wife, from Los Angeles to Chicago.

Our saint’s theological works included the following:

  1. The Gospel in the Light of the Great War (1919);
  2. International Aspects of Christianity (1919); and
  3. Preaching the Social Gospel (1922).

Our saint wrote at least two hymns for the National Congregational Brotherhood convention of 1909.  (I have found two.)  One follows:

We bear the strain of earthly care,

But bear it not alone;

Beside us walks our Brother Christ

And makes our task His own.

+++++

Through din of market, whirl of wheels,

And thrust of driving trade,

We follow where our Master leads,

Serene and unafraid.

+++++

The common hopes that make us men

Were His in Galilee;

The tasks He gives are those He gave

Beside the restless sea.

+++++

Our brotherhood still rests in Him,

The Brother of us all,

And o’er the centuries still we hear

The Master’s winsome call.

And here is the other one:

At length there dawns the glorious day

By prophets long foretold;

At length the chorus clearer grows

That shepherds heard of old.

The day of dawning Brotherhood

Breaks on our eager eyes,

And human hatreds flee before

The radiant eastern skies.

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For what are sundering strains of blood,

Or ancient caste and creed?

One claim unites all men in God

To serve each human need.

Then here together, brother men,

We pledge the Lord anew

Our loyal love, our stalwart faith,

Our service, strong and true.

+++++

One common faith unites us all,

We seek one common goal,

One tender comfort broods upon

The struggling human soul.

To this clear call of brotherhood

Our hearts responsive ring;

We join the glorious new crusade

Of our great Lord and King.

Our saint’s papers are available at the Congregational Library, the Congregational Christian Historical Society.

Ozora Stearns Davis sought to love God actively in his social context.  As far as I can tell, he succeeded.

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APPENDIX

First Congregational Church, Springfield, Vermont, is an active congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 2013.

Central Congregational Church, Newtonville, Newton, Massachusetts, hit hard by urban demographic changes, disbanded in 2003, dispersing its members to other UCC congregations in the area.

South Congregational Church and First Baptist Church, New Britain, Connecticut, on the same downtown street and both affected adversely by urban demographic changes, merged in 1974.  In 2013 the South Congregational-First Baptist Church (UCC and American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.) ministers in its city in an exercise of Christian Brotherhood.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, MATHEMATICIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN EUDES, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF JESUS AND MARY

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Ozora Stearns Davis,

and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 720

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Revised on December 23, 2016

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