Archive for May 2015

Feast of Hugh O’Flaherty (October 30)   2 comments

Vatican Flag

Above:  The Flag of Vatican City

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

HUGH O’FLAHERTY (FEBRUARY 28, 1898-OCTOBER 30, 1963)

The “Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican”

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed  an entire world.  And whoever saves one life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

–Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9

Sometimes acting in a merely decent manner proves to be dangerous, even potentially deadly for one.  Doing the right thing remains important and becomes courageous in such circumstances.  From the lives of heroes who acted merely decently we who look back upon their times can derive invaluable lessons about loving our neighbors as ourselves.

The saint and hero du jour is Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.  He, born at Cahersiveen, Ireland, on February 28, 1898, grew up toward the end of the struggle to establish the Republic of Ireland (founded in 1922).  Political realities, including the killing of friends by pro-British partisans, caused our saint to have a negative opinion of the British for a long time.  His mother was Margaret O’Flaherty, a homemaker.  Our saint’s father was James O’Flaherty, steward at a golf club.  Young Hugh, who grew up at Killarney, became a skilled golfer, but his vocation was with the Church.  Thus he entered Mungret College, a Jesuit school, in 1918, to train and study to become a missionary priest.

O’Flaherty became a priest in 1925 and a monsignor nine years later, but never a missionary.  No, diplomacy beckoned, given his doctorates and his fluency in languages.  This change of direction proved vital to the great work he performed in the 1940s.  Our saint served in diplomatic roles for the Roman Catholic Church in Egypt, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Czechoslovakia before transferring to the Vatican in 1938.  Thus it came to pass that, with the start of the European Theater of World War II in 1939 (the Second Sino-Japanese War, which became the Pacific Theater of World War II, had been in progress for years), the Vatican assigned him to serve as the translator for the Papal Nuncio to Italy.  This work brought O’Flaherty into contact with Allied prisoners of war, including British ones.  He had no difficulty siding with the Allies (even the British) against the Axis Powers, for, as he liked to say,

God has no country.

Our saint ensured that Allied prisoners of war received blankets, Red Cross packages, and proper clothing.  He used Vatican Radio to send messages from these prisoners to their families back home.  And O’Flaherty protested conditions in some POW facilities, prompting the Italian government to ask the Church to reassign him.

Thus O’Flaherty found himself in a position to lead a network of volunteers, safe houses, and church buildings for the purpose of saving thousands of lives.  He was responsible for saving the lives of an estimated 6,500 people–prisoners of war, anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi dissidents, and Jews (about 1,700 of them), of course.  Our saint risked his life to conduct this work.  He had to travel in disguise, for Pietro Koch, the leader of the Italian Fascist police, and Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappler, the head of the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied Rome (September 1943-June 1944), sought to kill him or to have him killed on sight outside the safety of Vatican City, a sovereign state.

O’Flaherty, a humble man who disliked attention showered upon him, received postwar honors from foreign governments.  The Italian government gave him a pension, which he declined.  Canada and France honored him.  O’Flaherty became a Commander of the British Empire and received the United States Medal of Freedom.

Kappler’s fate and the postwar relationship he and O’Flaherty spoke of the possibility of repentance and redemption.  Allied forces arrested the former Gestapo leader in 1945.  In 1947 a court sentenced him to life imprisonment.  O’Flaherty visited him in prison and befriended him.  The two men discussed topics such as literature and religion.  And, in 1959, our saint converted Kappler to Roman Catholicism.

O’Flaherty, about to become the Papal Nuncio to Tanzania, suffered a stroke in 1960.  Thus he left the Vatican for his native Ireland, moving into the home of one of his sisters at Cahersiveen.  There our saint died on October 30, 1963.  Fifty years later, at Killarney, the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial opened, complete with one of his quotes,

God has no country.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 24, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF IDA SCUDDER, REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA MEDICAL MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF JACKSON KEMPER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WISCONSIN

THE FEAST OF MOTHER EDITH, FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE SACRED NAME

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 736

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Feast of Petrus Nigidius and Georg Nigidius (November 25)   Leave a comment

Allendorf (1655)

Above:  Allendorf in 1655, by Matthaus Merian

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

PETRUS NIGIDIUS (1501-1583)

German Lutheran Educator and Composer

perhaps the father of

GEORG NIGIDIUS, A.K.A. GEORG NIEGE (NOVEMBER 25, 1525-JULY 4, 1588)

German Lutheran Composer and Hymn Writer

The relationship (if any) between Petrus and George Nigidius is uncertain, but both men were from Allendorf, Hesse, and had connections to nearby Marburg.

Petrus Nigidius (1501-1583) was a professional educator.  He studied at the University of Erfurt and served as rector at Eschwege, Allendorf, and Gottingen.  Once he visited Wittenberg, where he heard Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) speak.  Our saint served briefly as rector in Darmstadt and Luneburg before returning to Allendorf to teach.  Then he taught at Cassel from 1539 to 1549.  From 1549 to 1561 our saint worked as the superintendent at Marburg.  There he remained, teaching history then physics starting in 1561.  Nigidius retired in 1575.

Among his non-academic contributions were at least one melody and a German-Latin catechism.  The catechism dated to 1554.  The melody became the basis for a hymn tune, DIE NACHT IST KOMMEN.

Georg Nigidius, born on November 25, 1525, spent most of his life as a soldier and filling civil offices.  At the age of nine years he became a pupil of cantor Georg Kern at Cassel.  Thus his musical education began.  Our saint graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Marburg in 1546.  Then he entered the military.  Nigidius spent the rest of his life alternating between military and civil positions, settling down at Rintelin in 1587.  There he died of a stroke on July 4, 1588.

His hobbies included composing poems and music.  Nigidius had sent The Seven Penitential Psalms Together with All Manner of Christian Hymns of Praise and Thanksgiving, and Also Prayers and Passages of Scripture Composed and Compiled by Georg Niege of Allendorf, a Captain to Nicolaus Selnecker (1532-1592), theologian and hymn writer.  Selnecker attempted unsuccessfully to find a publisher for it.  Nevertheless, some of the texts in that volume appeared in hymnals during the 1500s.  The great bulk of our saint’s compositions remained forgotten in the royal library in Berlin until Dr. P. Althaus rediscovered them.

Among the texts by Georg Nigidius in circulation since the 1500s was Aus meines Herzens Grunde.  Stanzas #1, 2, 5, and 6 of the translation from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) follow:

My inmost heart now raises

In this fair morning hour

A song of thankful praises

To Thine almighty pow’r,

O God, upon Thy throne.

To honor and adore Thee,

I bring my praises before Thee

Thro’ Christ, Thine only Son.

+++++

For Thou from me hast warded

All perils of the night;

From ev’ry harm hast guarded

My soul till morning light.

To Thee I humbly cry,

O Savior, have compassion

And pardon my transgression;

Have mercy, Thine only Son.

+++++

God shall do my advising,

Whose might with wisdom blends;

May the bless rest and rising,

My efforts, means, and ends!

To God, forever blest,

Will I with mine confide me,

And willing let Him guide me

As seemeth to Him best.

+++++

Amen I say, not fearing

That God rejects my prayer;

I doubt not He is hearing

And granting me His care.

Thus I go on my way

And do not look behind me,

But ply the task assigned me;

God’s help shall be my stay.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DESIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of your servants

Petrus Nigidius and Georg Nigidius,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhofer (November 23)   1 comment

Fort, Coburg

Above:  The Fort, Coburg, Thuringia, Germany, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-01086

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CASPAR FRIEDRICH NACHTENHOFER (MARCH 5, 1621-NOVEMBER 23, 1685)

German Lutheran Minister, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhofer, born at Halle on March 5, 1621, studied theology at the University of Leipzig (M.A., 1651), having worked as a tutor in the home of Chancellor August Carpzov (1612-1683) of Saxe-Coburg at Coburg.  In 1651 our saint moved to Meeder, near Coburg.  At Meeder Nachtenhofer served as deacon (1651-1655) and pastor (1655-1671).  In 1671 he relocated to Coburg, becoming pastor of Holy Cross Church and deacon of St. Moritz Church.  In 1685 our saint published a metrical history of the Passion of Jesus.

Nachtenhofer wrote hymns.  I have added two of them to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Our saint died on November 23, 1685.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DESIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

thank you for those (especially Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhofer)

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Ditlef Georgson Ristad (November 21)   2 comments

Flag of MinnesotaFlag of Wisconsin

Above:  The Flags of Minnesota and Wisconsin

Images in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DITLEF GEORGSON RISTAD (NOVEMBER 22, 1863-SEPTEMBER 20, 1938)

Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, Liturgist, and Educator

Ditlef Georgson Ristad entered the world at Overhallen, Norway, on November 22, 1863.  His parents, George Ristad and Johanna Bergitte Ristad, were farmers.  Our saint graduated from the Klabu Normal School, taught in a school, tutored privately for three years, and served in the army.  Then, in 1887, he emigrated to the United States of Army.

Ristad’s destiny was the ordained ministry, but that was not obvious in 1887 and 1888.  He worked in various industries for two years before matriculating at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, an institution of the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (SNELCA) (1853-1917), in 1889.  He graduated three years later, became an ordained Lutheran minister, and served as the pastor of the church at East Koskonong, Wisconsin, from 1892 to 1900.  During this time our saint traveled to Europe (in 1894), took courses at the University of Chicago (in 1896 and 1897), and edited the Lutheran Sunday-School Hymnal (1897).

Then academia beckoned.  Ristad served as the President of Albion Academy, Albion, Wisconsin, from 1900 to 1905, traveling in Europe again in 1904.  Our saint’s next position was President of Park Region Luther College, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, from 1905 to 1916.  During this time he served on the commitees for The Lutheran Hymnary (1913) and the Lutheran Hymnary Junior (1916).  A few years (1916-1919) as the President of the Lutheran Ladies’ Seminary at Red Wing, Minnesota, followed.

Ristad pursued other ventures from 1919 to 1922.  He established a trade journal, the Wisconsin Tobacco Reporter, at Edgerton, Wisconsin, in 1919, and worked as a correspondent for other trade journals.  Our saint also published a volume of Norwegian poetry in 1922.

From 1923 to the end of his life (in 1938) Ristad was active in parish ministry again.  He served as the pastor of the First Lutheran Church, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, during that time.  In 1930 the Norwegian government made him a Knight of St. Olaf in honor of his active role in Norwegian-American cultural organizations.  Ristad received the LD.D. degree from St. Olaf’s College, Northfield, Minnesota, in 1935, capping off a productive life.

Ristad, the family man, was the husband of Sara Moltzau (1869-1957) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the father of George Rolf Ristad (1905-1954) and Robert Nicholas Ristad.

Among our saint’s hymn translations was a rendering (from 1908) of a text by Hans Adolf Brorson (1694-1764) from 1734.  “I walk in danger all the way,” it began.  Stanzas #2, 3, and 6 follow:

I pass through trials all the way,

With sin and ills contending;

In patience I must bear each day

The cross of God’s own sending;

Oft in adversity

I know not where to flee;

When storms of woe my soul dismay,

I pass through trials all the way.

+++++

Death doth pursue me all the way,

Nowhere I rest securely,

He comes by night, he comes by day,

And takes his prey most surely;

A failing breath–and I

In death’s strong grasp may lie

To face eternity for aye:

Death doth pursue me all the way.

+++++

My walk is heavenward all the way,

Await, my soul, the morrow,

When thou shalt find release for aye

From all thy sin and sorrow;

All worldly pomp, begone,

To heaven I now press on;

For all the world I would not stay,

My walk is heavenward all the way.

Ristad died on September 20, 1938.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DESIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

thank you for those (especially Ditlef Georgson Ristad)

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Henry Martyn Dexter (November 13)   1 comment

1000px-Flag_of_Massachusetts.svg

Above:  The Flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

HENRY MARTYN DEXTER (AUGUST 13, 1821-NOVEMBER 13, 1890)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Historian

I, as a bookish person, like scholars, generally.  Anti-intellectualism is among the most undesirable features of certain varieties of religion.  Even Roman Catholicism, with its admirable tradition of Thomism, has also contained a strong strain of anti-intellectualism.  The rational aspect of the Anglican Three-Legged Stool (really a tricycle) is one of the theological realities which keeps me an Episcopalian.

Henry Martyn Dexter (1821-1890) was an intellectual and a scholar par excellence.  He was also a minister of the Gospel.  That union of religiosity and intellectualism warrants my respect.  That said, nobody should assume that I agree with all or many of Dexter’s opinions, especially when he quoted the Bible to criticize extending voting rights to women.  He was godly yet mistaken about a great many topics.

Our saint entered the world at Plympton, Massachusetts.  His parents were Elijah Dexter, a Congregationalist minister, and Mary Morton.  Henry graduated from Yale College (B.A., 1840) and Andover Theological Seminary (B.D., 1844).  He, ordained, served at Franklin Street Congregational Church, Manchester, New Hampshire (1844-1849), and at Berkeley Street Congregational Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1849-1867).

Dexter was an editor of publications.  He edited The Congregationalist (1849-1866) from 1851 to 1866.  From 1859 to 1875 he was one of the editors of The Congregational Quarterly (1859-1878):  1859, 1860, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877, and 1878.  Our saint also edited the successors of The Congregationalist:

  1. The Congregationalist and Recorder (1867), and
  2. The Congregationalist and Boston Recorder (1867-1901), a.k.a. The Congregationalist.

Dexter was the foremost historian of American Congregationalism.  He was a prolific author, as my research about him at archive .org revealed:

  1. Our National Condition, and Its Remedy:  A Sermon, Preached in the Pine Street Church, Boston, on Sunday, June 22, 1856;
  2. Christian Pamphlets (1858), as one of the authors;
  3. Street Thoughts (1859);
  4. Twelve Discourses (1860);
  5. The History of King Philip’s War by Benjamin Church (1865), as editor;
  6. The Verdict of Reason Upon the Question of the Future Punishment of Those Who Die Impenitent (1865);
  7. Mourt’s Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth (1865), as editor;
  8. What Ought to Be Done with the Freedmen and with the Rebels?  A Sermon Preached in the Berkeley-Street Church, Boston, on Sunday, April 23, 1865 (1865);
  9. The History of the Eastern Expeditions of 1689, 1690, 1692, 1696, and 1704 Against the Indians and French by Benjamin Church (1867), as editor;
  10. The Church Polity of the Pilgrims:  The Polity of the New Testament (1870);
  11. Pilgrim Memoranda (1870);
  12. Memoranda, Historical, Chronological, Etc., Prepared with the Hope to Aid Those Whose Interest in Pilgrim Memorials, and History, is Freshened by This Jubilee Year, and Who May Not Have a Large Historical Library at Hand (1870);
  13. Congregationalism:  What It Is, Whence It Is, How It Works; Why It is Better Than Any Other Form of Church Government; and Its Consequent Demands (1874);
  14. As to Roger Williams, and His “Banishment” from the Massachusetts Plantation; with a Few Further Words Concerning the Baptists, the Quakers, and Religious Liberty:  A Monograph (1876);
  15. A Hand-Book of Congregationalism (1880);
  16. The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred Years, As Seen in Its Literature (1880);
  17. The True Story of John Smyth, the Se-Baptist, As Told by Himself and His Contemporaries (1881);
  18. Common Sense as to Women Suffrage (1885);
  19. Sketch of the Life of Increase Niles Tarbox (1890); and
  20. The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (1905), completed by his son, Morton Dexter.

Our saint specialized in prose.  As his son, Morton Dexter (1846-1910), son of Emmeline Palmer, indicated, our saint

never regarded himself as a poet and never gave much attention to versifying.

Nevertheless, our saint wrote some ballads, at least one hymn, and at least one hymn translation (“Shepherd of Tender Youth”).  “Shepherd of Tender Youth” debuted in the December 21, 1849 issue of The Congregationalist.

Dexter, who received the LL.D. degree from Yale in 1890, died at New Bedford, Massachusetts, on November 13 of that year.  Yale received his library of Congregational Church history–1,850 volumes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 23, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DESIDERIUS/DIDIER OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUIBERT OF GORZE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NICOLAUS COPERNICUS, SCIENTIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Henry Martyn Dexter and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Anne Steele (November 11)   1 comment

Flag of England

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ANNE STEELE (MAY 1716-NOVEMBER 11, 1778)

First Important English Female Hymn Writer

+++++++++++++++++++++++

A mother may forgetful be,

For human love is frail;

But thy Creator’s love to thee,

O Zion! cannot fail.

+++++

No! thy dear name engraven stands,

In characters of love,

On thy almighty Father’s hands;

And never shall remove.

+++++

Before His ever watchful eye

Thy mournful state appears,

And every groan, and every sigh,

Divine compassion hears.

+++++

O Zion! learn to doubt no more,

Be every fear suppressed;

Unchanging truth, and love, and power,

Dwell in thy Saviour’s breast.

–Quoted in Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes for the Use of Christian Congregations (1855), #915

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Anne Steele (1716-1778) was the first important female hymn writer in England.  In 1808, when Trinity Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts, published its hymnal, 59 of the 141 hymns came from the pen of our saint.  Although Steele was a Baptist, I have found some of her texts most often in hymnbooks of non-Baptist origin.  In fact, I found biographies of her in ten of the twenty-three hymnal companion volumes in my library.  Their affiliations were, in descending order:

  1. Lutheran–3;
  2. Methodist–2;
  3. Seventh-day Adventist–1;
  4. Presbyterian–1;
  5. Evangelical and Reformed–1;
  6. Episcopalian–1;
  7. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and American Baptist Convention–1.

(The Hymnbook for Christian Worship, 1970, was the official hymnal of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the American Baptist Convention/American Baptist Churches U.S.A.).

Her texts and biography are absent from the Southern Baptist hymnbooks of 1956, 1975, 1991, and 2008.  Furthermore, the theologically more moderate and stylistically more traditional (compared to the Baptist Hymnal of 2008) Celebrating Grace Hymnal (2010) also lacks any texts by Anne Steele.  On the other hand, the New Baptist Hymnal (1926), a joint project of the Northern and Southern Baptist Conventions, contained some Steele hymns, as did its immediate Northern Baptist successor, Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941), a project with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  I cannot make any claim as to the presence of Steele hymns in The Broadman Hymnal (1940), the first hymnal to bring some uniformity of hymnody to the Southern Baptist Convention, for the volume lacks an index of authors.

Anne Steele (1716-1778) spent her life in Broughton, Hampshire, England.  Her great-uncle, Henry Steele, served the Baptist church there as a lay pastor.  Her father, William Steele (died in 1769), was a lumber merchant with a considerable financial inheritance who served as a deacon and an occasional preacher in that congregation for thirty years before serving as the unpaid lay pastor there for three decades.

Anne spent most of her life as a frequently bedridden invalid in constant pain.  A hip injury she suffered at age 19 created that reality.  She was engaged to marry at one point, but her intended drowned the day before the scheduled wedding.  Our saint, who never married, assisted her father in his ministry as she was able.  She also devoted herself to literary pursuits, writing 144 hymns, 34 metrical psalms, and 30 poems.  She disliked publicity, so she refused to submit any of her compositions for publication for a long time.  When The Spectator published some of her texts under the name “Steele,” many readers assumed erroneously that the author must have been Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729), a politician, essayist, and playwright.  Poems on Subjects, Chiefly Devotional (1760) rolled off the presses, identifying the author as “Theodosia.”

Our saint died on November 11, 1778.  Her epitaph declared:

Silent the lyre, and dumb the tuneful tongue,

That sung on earth her great Redeemer’s praise;

But now in heaven she joins the angels’ songs,

In more harmonious, more exalted lays.

Posthumous collections of her verse and works about her appeared in 1780, 1808, and 1863.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF GEORG GOTTFRIED MULLER, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Anne Steele 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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart (November 9)   Leave a comment

Fort, Coburg

Above:  The Fort, Coburg, Thuringia, Germany, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-01086

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JOHANN(ES) MATTHAUS MEYFART (NOVEMBER 9, 1590-JANUARY 26, 1642)

German Lutheran Educator and Devotional Writer

I grew up in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the 1980s and early 1990s.   The dominant form of piety in those churches was akin to that one found in neighboring Southern Baptist churches.  It was like that old joke that Methodists are Baptists who can read.  Then, in late 1991, I became an Episcopalian, for my inherent piety was closer to Roman Catholicism yet somewhat Protestant.  Five years later, shortly before the presidential election, I watched a dual biography of President Bill Clinton and Senator Robert Dole on public television.  The narrator described the nature of United Methodism in Kansas, prompting me to think that I preferred that to the character of United Methodism in rural southern Georgia.  A few years ago I started exploring Lutheranism via books, such as the Book of Concord and various service books-hymnals.  I have enjoyed this ongoing process, which has convinced me that German and Scandinavian hymnody is superior to the one inflicted upon me as a child.  Unfortunately, that inferior hymnody has been pursuing me even into The Episcopal Church during the last few years, prompting me sometimes to resort to speaking in two languages within one conversation, using French strategically.  On other occasions I have maintained a passive-aggressive silence instead.  But I digress, as much as I remain an unrepentant European classicist.

Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart (1590-1642) contributed to the treasures of Lutheran hymnody.  His father was a Lutheran pastor at Wahlwinkel, near Gotha, in the Holy Roman Empire.  Our saint’s mother was visiting her parents at Jena when she gave birth on November 9, 1590.  Meyfart studied at the Universities of Wittenberg and Jena (M.A., 1611; D.D. 1624).  His career was mainly an academic one.  He taught philosophy at Jena for a few years before moving to Coburg in 1616.  There he served as a professor at the gymnasium until becoming director in 1623.  At that school, as The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal (1942) informs me,

he had great moral power.

–Page 546

To state that differently, in the words of The Hymnal 1940 Companion (1949),

he exerted a remarkable influence on all his pupils.

–Page 504

Our saint’s tenure at Coburg ended due to his dissertation on church discipline, De Disciplina Ecclesiastica (1633).  Many of his colleagues complained to the government because they disagreed with the dissertation’s contents.

The future Duke Ernst I of Gotha came to Meyfart’s rescue, offering him a new position.  Our saint became a professor of theology at the University of Erfurt.  In 1634 he became the Rector of the University.  And, starting in 1636, Meyfart served as the pastor of the Prediger Church in town.  Controversy followed our saint, for another writing on the subject of church discipline caused problems for him at Erfurt.  These controversies affected Meyfart adversely.

Meyfart seemed drawn to controversies.  He wrote a text, Anti-Becanus, in the context of a debate with Martin Becanus (1563-1624), a Jesuit, regarding Socinianism.  Becanus condemned not only Socinianism but all Protestant theology.  He and Meyfart, therefore, had the denunciation of Socinianism in common.  Our saint, however, was a Lutheran, therefore in a position to argue against Becanus.

Socinianism is multi-faceted; here is a partial explanation:

  1. The Roman Catholic Church condemns Socinianism as a heresy.
  2. Socinianism teaches that Jesus was purely human nature, that God adopted him as the Son of God, that Jesus embodied the Word or will of God, that Jesus is nevertheless worthy of adoration, and that God bestowed the government of the world on him after the Ascension.
  3. Therefore Socinianism denies the Holy Trinity.  In fact, Socinianism influenced the development of Unitarian theology, especially with regard to the nature of Jesus.

Meyfart wrote devotional works, from which hymns came.  These books indicated great literary skill and a firm grasp of theology.  Eduard Emil Koch (1809-1871) wrote of Meyfart in 1871.  Our saint was

a German Dante, full of learning and fantasy, an individual that one would seldom encounter anywhere.

The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal (1941) indicated that these devotional books were

noted for their vivid portrayals and their earnest calls to repentance and amendment of life.

–Page 546

One of Meyfart’s hymns, drawn from Tuba Novissima (1626), exists in English in various translations and altered forms thereof.  Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) published her translation in the second volume of her Lyra Germanica (1858).  (Consult pages 237-239, O reader.)  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) contains an altered version of the Winkworth translation as “Jerusalem, Thou City Fair and High.”  The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) calls the hymn “Jerusalem, Whose Towers Touch the Skies.”  Lutheran Worship (1982) and the Lutheran Service Book (2006) list the hymn as “Jerusalem, O City Fair and High.”  William Rollinson Whittingham (1805-1879), Episcopal Bishop of Maryland from 1840 to 1879, prepared his own translation, which debuted in Hymns for Church and Home, Compiled by Members of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as a Contribution to Any Addition That May Be Made to the Hymns Now Attached to the Prayer-Book (1860):

Jerusalem! high tower thy glorious walls,

Would God I were in thee!

Desire of thee my longing heart enthralls,

Desire at home to be;

Wide from the world outleaping,

O’er hill and vale and plain,

My soul’s strong wing is sweeping

Thy portals to attain.

+++++

O gladsome day and yet more gladsome hour!

When shall that hour have come

When my rejoicing soul its own free power

May use in going home,

Itself to Jesus giving

In trust to his own hand,

To dwell among the living

In that blest fatherland?

+++++

A moment’s time, the twinkling of an eye

Shall be enough, to soar

In buoyant exultation, through the sky

And reach the heavenly shore.

Elijah’s chariot bringing

The homeward traveller there;

Glad troops of angels winging

It onward through the air.

+++++

Great fastness thou of honor! thee I greet!

Throw wide thy gracious gate,

An entrance free to give these longing feet;

At last released, though late,

From wretchedness and sinning,

And life’s long weary way;

And now, of God’s gift, winning

Eternity’s bright day.

+++++

What throng is this, what noble troop, that pours,

Arrayed in beauteous guise,

Out through the glorious city’s open doors,

To greet my wondering eyes?

The host of Christ’s elected,

The jewels that he bears

In his own crown, selected

To wipe away my tears.

+++++

Of prophets great, and patriarchs high, a band

That once has borne the cross,

With all the company that won that land,

By counting gain for loss,

Now float in freedom’s lightness,

From tyrant’s chains set free;

And shine like suns in brightness,

Arrayed to welcome me.

+++++

Once more at last arrived they welcome there,

To beauteous Paradise;

Where sense can scarce its full fruition bear

Or tongue for praise suffice;

Glad hallelujahs ringing

With rapturous rebound,

And rich hosannahs singing

Eternity’s long round.

+++++

Unnumbered choirs before the Lamb’s high throne

There shout the jubilee,

With loud resounding peal and sweetest tone,

In blissful ecstasy:

A hundred thousand voices

Take up the wondrous song;

Eternity rejoices

God’s praises to prolong.

Meyfart died at Erfurt on January 26, 1642.

Reading about Meyfart reminds me of the fact that many gems of German Lutheran hymnody do not exist in any English-language translation.  That fact makes me with that the opposite were true.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF GEORG GOTTFRIED MULLER, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart 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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++