Above: Akershus Castle and Fortress, Oslo, Norway
Image in the Public Domain
ERIK CHRISTIAN HOFF (JANUARY 21, 1832-DECEMBER 8, 1894)
Norwegian Lutheran Composer and Organist
The name of Erik Christian Hoff came to my attention when I read about the life of his contemporary, Ludwig Mathias Lindeman (1812-1887), with whom he competed in the 1870s. The new official hymnal was the Kirkesalmebog (1869) of Magnus Brostrup Landstad (1802-1880). That hymnbook contained words yet not music, as was the custom at the time. Hoff had prepared the Melodibog til samtlige authorisered Salmeboger, containing 265 tunes, including many Danish and Swedish tunes plus 61 tunes of his composition, for consideration as the official musical companion to the hymnal. However, Lindeman’s Koralbog, indeholdende de i Landstads Salmebog forekommende Melodier (1871) became the authorized chorale book in 1877. Lindeman’s innovation was to change how Norwegians sang, replacing uniform rhythms and slow tempo with dotted rhythms, faster tempos, and rests (not the usual fermatas) at the ends of phrases. Hoff’s proposed chorale book, which he published privately in 1878, was more traditional.
Hoff, son of a smith of Bergen, Norway, entered the world on January 21, 1832. He attended school at Stord, received his introduction to music there, and graduated at the top of his class. For a time our saint taught music at Bergen, where he became the lead singer at the Korskirken (Church of the Cross). Next Hoff studied organ and music theory at the Vogel conservatory, from which he graduated with honors. From 1860 to 1862 he taught at Halmestrand. Then Hoff moved to Christiania (now Olso), the capital city of Norway, which was then part of Sweden.
Hoff worked in Christiania for the rest of his life. From 1862 to 1864 he conducted choirs and taught music; he taught until 1870. From 1864 to 1894 he served as the organist at the Garnisonskirken, the garrison church at Akershus Castle and Fortress. Among his most ardent admirers was King Oscar II (reigned 1872-1905), who visited frequently to hear him play. Hoff, who ceased teaching so he could devote more time to choral music, composed works for the organ, songs for male chorus, and songs for children.
Hoff died on December 8, 1894.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 20, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAMUEL HANSON COX, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND ABOLITIONIST; AND HIS SON, ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS
THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGISUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT
THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN
THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS
Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:
We bless your name for inspiring Erik Christian Hoff
and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;
through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Chronicles 29:14b-19
2 Corinthians 3:1-3
John 21:15-17, 24-25
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728