Above: The Flags of Minnesota and Wisconsin
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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
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