Feast of Birgitte Katerine Boye (October 16)   1 comment

Copenhagen 1807

Above:  A Map of Copenhagen, 1807

Image in the Public Domain

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BIRGITTE KATERINE JOHANSEN HERTZ BOYE (MARCH 7, 1742-OCTOBER 17, 1824)

Danish Lutheran Poet, Playwright, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

Birgitte Katerine Johansen, born in Gentofte, Denmark, on March 7, 1742, was the eldest of seven children of Jens Johansen, who was in the royal service, and Dorotea Henriksdatter.  In 1763 our saint married Herman Hertz (1734-1775), the newly appointed forester of the Vordingborg district.  The couple had four children in five years.  Birgitte still found time to study German, French, and English, mastering the written forms of those languages and enjoying literature in them.  She also began to compose and translate hymns.

Our saint contributed 124 original hymns and 24 translations to what became A Hymnal, or a Collection of Old and New Hymns, for the Honor of God and the Edification of His Church (1778), or Guldberg’s Hymnal, a project of Bishop Ludwig Harboe and Ove Guldberg, secretary to Crown Prince Frederik, later King Frederik VI (reigned 1808-1839).  The purpose of Guldberg’s Hymnal was to replace The Ordained New Church Hymnbook (1699), or Kingo’s Hymnbook.  The hymnal of 1778, like Erik Pontoppidan‘s Den nye Psalmebog (1740) and Bishop Balle’s Evangelisk-Kristelig Salmebog (1797), failed to replace Kingo’s Hymnbook.  Guldberg’s Hymnbook did, however, introduce many fine hymns to Danish Lutherans.

Our saint began to submit original and translated texts to Guldberg’s Hymnbook in 1773.  During the preparation of that hymnal the Crown eliminated Herman Hertz’s forestry position, harming the family’s finances.  Birgitte wrote to Bishop Harboe, who spoke to Guldberg, who interceded with Crown Prince Frederik, who paid for the education of the Hertzes’ sons for a few years.  And, after Herman Hertz died in 1775, the Crown Prince supported the family financially for three years, until Birgitte married Hans Boye (1745-1815), a customs inspector and judicial advisor in Copenhagen.

Birgitte was also a poet and a playwright.  She composed nationalistic poems, and performances of many of her plays occurred at royal events.  Her translations of Psalms 1-89 debuted in three volumes from 1781 to 1785.  To many English-speaking Christians, however, her hymns have proven most famous among her works.  The Service Book and Hymnal (1958) includes the following translation (by Fred C. M. Hanson, 1888-1965) of an Easter hymn:

Our Lord is risen from the dead,

And rays of glory crown his head,

New hope has come to mortals.

O sing, our King now is risen!

Come and listen

To the story,

Christ the Lord is risen in glory!

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He rose in power to smite his foes,

He lives to free us from our woes

And open heaven’s portals.

O sing, our King now is risen!

Come and listen

To the story,

Christ the Lord is risen in glory!

The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) offers the following Christmas text, in an English translation by Carl Doving (1867-1937) from 1911:

Rejoice, rejoice, this happy morn,

A Savior unto us is born,

The Christ, the Lord of Glory.

His lowly birth in Bethlehem

The angels from on high proclaim

And sing redemption’s story.

My soul, extol God’s great favor,

Bless Him ever

For salvation,

Give Him praise and adoration.

Our saint died at Copenhagen, Denmark, on October 17, 1824.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 13, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SYLVESTER II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WILLIAMS, WELSH ANGLICAN PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Birgitte Katerine Boye and others, who have composed and 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

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 Birgitte Katerine Boye (October 16)

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  1. Pingback: Birgitte Katerine Boye | GATHERED PRAYERS

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