Above: Logo of the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987)
Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor
GERHARD GIESCHEN (JUNE 28, 1899-JUNE 22, 1987)
U.S. Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator
Sometimes I am especially grateful for the existence of the Internet. Research for this post started with Lutheran hymnal companion volumes, but Internet searches and newspapers.com proved quite helpful in following up on leads and finding more information.
Gerhard Gieschen entered the world at Helenville, Wisconsin, on June 28, 1899. His parents were John Gieschen and Anna Sophia Bieck Gieschen. Our saint attended Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (a Missouri Synod school), then Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin, and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Thiensville, Wisconsin (Wisconsin Synod schools). The Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States (the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod since 1959) ordained him in 1922. Geischen served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rib Falls, Wisconsin, for a few years. Then he was assistant minister and school principal at Marshfield, Wisconsin. That job ended in the early 1930s due to the Great Depression.
Forest Park Review, Forest Park, Illinois, November 2, 1950, page 3
Obtained via newspapers.com
Gieschen, however, spent most of his ministerial career in less conservative denominations. He joined the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) in 1933, becoming the pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Leigh, Nebraska. He ministered in Wayne, Nebraska, from 1940 to 1942. A tenure (1942-1947) at Our Redeemer Church, Omaha, Nebraska, followed. Then, from 1947 to 1950, Gieschen served at St. Peter’s Church, Forest Park, Illinois.
Forest Park Review, Forest Park, Illinois, January 19, 1950, page 2
Obtained via newspapers.com
Next Gieschen moved to seminary work in the ULCA and its immediate successor, the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). He taught systematic theology at the Central Lutheran Theological Seminary, Fremont, Nebraska (1893-1967), serving finally as the Acting President of that institution from 1964 to 1967, until its consolidation into the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Illinois. Thereafter our saint held Professor Emeritus status at the merged seminary.
Gieschen remained active, however. He taught at Midland College, Fremont, Nebraska, from 1967 to 1969. Then he returned to the pulpit as pastor of Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from 1970 to 1975. In this capacity our saint succeeded one of his sons, Roger Gieschen, as the pastor there.
Gerhard and Lucille Anita Graber Gieschen (1902-1988) had four children, two of whom–Roger and David– became Lutheran ministers. Roger, ordained in the ULCA in 1958, was the founding pastor of Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, from 1958 to 1969. Next he ministered at St. Paul’s Church, Wichita, Kansas, serving until 1973, when he became the Director of Missions in the central states and Iowa for the LCA’s Division for Ministry. Then, in 1978, Roger became the President of the Central States Synod. Two years later the LCA made its synodical presidents bishops, so he was Bishop Gieschen until 1988.
David Gieschen became the founding pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Manhattan, Kansas, in 1963. Twelve years later he was working in the LCA’s Division of Parish Services of the Department of Program Resources.
Gerhard Gieschen translated a Martin Opitz (1597-1639) text from 1628 as “Arise and Shine in Splendor.” The original translation, that of 1937, appeared in Faith-Life, the periodical of the Protes’tant Conference, which broke away from the Wisconsin Synod in the 1920s. He revised the translation for The Lutheran Hymnal (1941). Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Missouri, holds the copyright on the translation and its variations. Thus I refer you, O reader, to The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), Lutheran Worship (1982), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006), all of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Our saint died at Sun City, Arizona, on June 1987, six days short of his eighty-eighth birthday.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 10, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODOSIUS THE CENOBRIARCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK
THE FEAST OF CHARLES WILLIAM EVEREST, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MILAN
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAUD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Dear God of beauty,
you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to
Gerhard Gieschen and others, who have 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
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