Feast of August Crull (February 17)   1 comment

august-crull

Above:  August Crull

Image in the Public Domain

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AUGUST CRULL (JANUARY 27, 1845-FEBRUARY 17, 1923)

German-American Lutheran Minister, Poet, Professor, Hymnodist, and Hymn Translator

The name of August Crull came to my attention due to my interest in liturgy and hymnody.  I have added five of his hymn translations to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Now I add him to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  I have relied heavily on archive.org and on hymnal companion volumes, which I have supplemented with an obituary from the February 19, 1923, edition of The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, accessible via newspapers.com.  Certain details in the hymnal companion volumes contradict the obituary, but I have found that, when following leads, that the hymnal companion volumes are more reliable than the obituary.

Crull’s life started in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, where his mother gave birth to him on January 27, 1845.  Our saint’s father, attorney Hofrat Crull, died when August was quite young.  August’s mother remarried eventually, joining her life with that of Albert Friedrich Hoppe, a doctor of laws.  Our saint’s stepfather went on to edit the St. Louis edition of Luther’s Works (1880-1897).  The family emigrated in the 1850s.

Our saint’s life in the United States was one of great accomplishments.  He attended Concordia College at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and St. Louis, Missouri, graduating in 1862.  Next Crull studied at Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, from which he graduated in 1865.  The newly ordained Reverend Crull served as assistant pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from 1865 to 1866.

Trinity Church, Milwaukee

Above:  Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Congregation Founded in 1847

Building Erected in 1878

Image Source = Library of Congress

Call Number = HABS WIS,40-MILWA,24-

Bad health forced our saint to resign after a year.  He studied theology and medicine in Dresden, Germany, before returning to St. Louis, where he edited a newspaper until 1868.  From 1868 to 1870 Crull was the principal of the Lutheran High School in St. Louis.  Then, from 1871 to 1873, he served as pastor of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Crull’s occupation for most of his life, however, was as a professor of German language and literature at Concordia College, Fort Wayne, Indiana, from 1873 to 1915.

Crull’s obituary from 1923 described his teaching career eloquently.

Crull Obituary 02C

Crull Obituary 03A

Source = The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, February 19, 1923, Page 2

Accessed via newspapers.com

Crull, a poet and author of two volumes of German poetry, published a German-language grammar (1880) and Das Walte Gott (1893), a book of devotions derived from sermons by Missouri Synod founder Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811-1887).  Our saint also edited three hymnals.

The first of these influential hymnals was the Hymn Book for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Schools and Congregations (1879).  This was the first English-language hymnal of the old Norwegian Synod (1853-1917).  The hymnal, which offered 130 hymns and 10 doxologies, was in use inside the old Norwegian Synod and beyond, including congregations of the Missouri Synod, officially the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (GELSMOOS).  Among the hymnal’s admirers was Walther.

The second hymnal Crull edited was Hymns of the Evangelical Lutheran Church:  For the Use of English Lutheran Missions (1886).  The Missouri Synod published this collection of 33 hymns with melodies.

Crull’s magnum opus of hymnody was the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (1889), which the English Evangelical Lutheran Conference of Missouri (1872-1888)/General English Evangelical Lutheran Conference of Missouri and Other States (1888-1891)/English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri and Other States (1891-1911) authorized.  The volume of 400 hymns, texts only, went into a second edition with added liturgical materials in 1892.  The Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book (1889) was  great advance, but denominational President Frederick Gottlob Kuegele (1846-1916) wrote in Der Lutheraner:

If we desire to build a true English Lutheran church for our descendants, then we must also be concerned, before it is too late, for a true English hymnal.

Crull’s magnum opus laid the foundations for the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (1912), the first official English-language hymnal of the Missouri Synod, then still GELSMOOS (now The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod).  (The English Synod of Missouri had merged into the Missouri Synod in 1911 and become the English District thereof.)  The 1912 hymnal had 567 hymns, 27 chants, and much liturgical material.

Crull, whose work in the realm of hymnody helped the Missouri Synod make the transition from German to English, married twice.  His first wife (from 1867 to 1884) was Sophie Biewend (1849-1884), with whom he had four children.  One one of these offspring survived the parents.  He was Dr. Eric A. Crull (1876-1936), who devoted his career to the battle against tuberculosis.  Our saint’s second wife (from 1896) was Katharine John, who died in 1944.

Crull retired from Concordia College, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1915, and moved back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  There he remained until he died on February 17, 1915.  He was 78 years old.  Our saint had joined the Choir Invisible, but his legacy has never died.  I have found his hymn translations in current Lutheran hymnals.  These texts are superior to many contemporary lyrics of worship songs in literary quality and theological density.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 31, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WOLFGANG OF REGENSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP

ALL HALLOWS’ EVE

REFORMATION DAY

VIGIL FOR THE EVE OF ALL SAINTS’ DAY

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

thank you for those (especially August Crull)

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

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One response to “Feast of August Crull (February 17)

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  1. Pingback: August Crull | GATHERED PRAYERS

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