Feast of Johann Olaf Wallin (June 30)   1 comment

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Above:  Archbishop Wallin

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN OLAF WALLIN (OCTOBER 15, 1779-JUNE 30, 1839)

Archbishop of Uppsala and Hymn Writer

Johann Olaf Wallin, or as I have also seen his name spelled, Johan Olof Wallin, is to Swedish Lutheran hymnody what people such as Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and Philip Doddridge are to traditional English hymnody.

Wallin, born at Stora Tuna, Delarna province, Sweden, was the son of a sergeant major in the Army.  Our saint became a scholar, earning his doctoral degree from the University of Uppsala at age twenty-four.  Wallin, ordained in 1806, became the theological assistant at Karlberg War College the following year.  In 1808 he became lecturer at the college and pastor at Solna.  Four years later our saint became pastor of the Adolf Frederik Church, Stockholm.  In 1818 he became Dean of Vasteras.  Three years later Wallin became pastor at Storkyrkan.  In 1824 he became a bishop (of which diocese I cannot determine).  After thirteen years our saint rose to Archbishop of Uppsala, the Primate of the Church of Sweden, having become chief royal preacher in 1830.  He died in 1839.

Wallin’s main contribution was literary, especially in the realm of hymnody.  He served on the committee which produced a proposed successor to the 1695 Psalmboken, or hymnal, in 1811.  That revision, criticized roundly, never became official.  Yet Wallin did forge the 1819 Psalm-Boken, which the Church of Sweden amended in 1920 and replaced in 1937.  The 1819 volume

represented both the high point in classic Swedish literary style and the blending of the new idealist romanticism with the older strict Lutheran theology.  In time it came to win such a secure place in the hearts of the Swedish people that no other book could completely replace it.

–Joel W. Lundeen in Marilyn Kay Stulken, Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1981), pages 45-46

Yet the 1819 Psalm-Boken had its critics from the left and the right.  Pietists tended to find it too rigidly orthodox, so they prepared their own unofficial books.  And strict orthodox factions, objecting to the romanticism of the 1819 volume, prepared their unofficial hymnals.  One of these (from 1849) became the official (Swedish-language) hymnal of the old Augustana Synod in North America in 1892.

Wallin’s work dominated the 1819 Psalm-Boken, which contained 500 hymns.  He wrote 128 of them, translated twenty-three, and revised 178.  That influence remained strong in the book’s 1937 successor, with about one-third of whose content bore Wallin’s stamp.

I have added some of our saint’s hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Wallin’s output being so numerous, I have chosen to include just two hymn texts in this post.  The first is his great Christmas hymn, translated by Ernst William Olson in The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925), Augustana Synod:

All hail to thee, O blessed morn!

To tidings long by prophets borne

Hast thou fulfillment given.

O sacred and immortal day,

When unto death, in glorious ray,

Descends the grace of heaven!

Singing,

Ringing,

Sounds are blending,

Praises sending

Unto heaven

For the Saviour to us given.

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‘Tis God’s own Image and, withal

The Son of Man, that mortals all

May find in Him a brother.

He comes, with peace and love to bide

On earth, the erring race to guide

And help as could no other;

Rather

Gather

Closer, fonder,

Sheep that wander,

Feed and fold them,

Then let evil powers hold them.

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He tears, like other men, will shed,

Our sorrows share, and be our aid,

Through His eternal power;

The Lord’s good will unto us show,

And mingle in our cup of woe

The drops of mercy’s shower;

Dying,

Buying

Through His passion

Our salvation,

And to mortals

Opening the heavenly portals.

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He comes, for our redemption sent,

And by His glory heaven is rent

To close upon us never;

Our blessed Shepherd He would be,

Whom we may follow faithfully

And be with Him forever;

Higher,

Nigher,

Glory wringing,

Praises singing

To the Father

And His Son, our Lord and Brother.

And, to complete the process which the Incarnation began, there was Easter.  Thus I share the following text, translated by Brent Emil Bengston, and also from the 1925 Hymnal:

He lives! O fainting heart, anew

With joy thy Lord and Saviour view!

He from the silent chamber woke,

And speaks again as e’er He spoke.

A quickening hand He has to give:

He lives, and thou shalt also live.

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O hear His voice and take His hand,

Thou traveler to a better land;

While passing through thy crucial test,

Lift up thy head,–a peaceful rest;

Thy trials over, He shall give:

He lies, and thou shalt also live.

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Ye dead in sin, awake, arise!

The Lord is calling from the skies.

Repentant come, in faith remain,

And live in Him; from sin and pain

And death shall He salvation give:]

He lives, and thou shalt also live.

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With Him thy guide lies smooth and bright

The pathway to the realms of light;

Abiding faith, undying love,

And hope lead to the home above.

Thy life into His keeping give:

He lives, and thou shalt also live.

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Of glory shall His raiment be;

O’er time and o’er eternity

The Sun of righteousness shall shine;

In heaven’s throne He sits divine;

A footstool earth to Him shall give:

He lives, and thou shalt also live.

Thanks be to God for the life and work of Archbishop Wallin!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 18, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER, APOSTLE

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Johann Olaf Wallin 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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One response to “Feast of Johann Olaf Wallin (June 30)

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  1. Pingback: Johann Olaf Wallin | GATHERED PRAYERS

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