Feast of Theodore Claudius Pease (November 20)   1 comment

4a13201v

Above:  Pleasant Street from Malden Square, Malden, Massachusetts, 1906

Image Source = Library of Congress

Publisher and Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a13201

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THEODORE CLAUDIUS PEASE (OCTOBER 14, 1853-NOVEMBER 20, 1893)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

The name of Theodore Claudius Pease might be unfamiliar to you, O reader.  If so, I understand; it was unknown to me until recently.  History records the fact that Pease wrote at least six hymns.  Within his denomination, the National Council of Congregational Churches in the United States, and its successors, the counts of his texts in official hymnals are as I have listed:

  1. The Hymnal for Use in Congregational Churches (1897)–0,
  2. The Pilgrim Hymnal (1904)–5,
  3. The Pilgrim Hymnal (1912)–4,
  4. The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931/1935)–0,
  5. Pilgrim Hymnal (1958)–0,
  6. The Hymnal of the United Church of Christ (1974)–0, and
  7. The New Century Hymnal (1995)–0.

Nevertheless, the quality of the style and content of Pease’s texts is high.

Pease, born at Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 14, 1853, became a poet and a professor.  His mother was Elmira Pease (1822-1855).  Our saint’s father was Claudius Buchanan Pease (1815-1904), a lumber merchant then a paper manufacturer.  In 1855, after Elmira died Claudius sent young Theodore to live with a grandmother and an aunt at Somers, Connecticut.  Ten years later, when our saint was about 12 years old, his father relocated to Somers.  In October 1869, at the age 16, Theodore joined the Congregational church there.  Later that year the family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.  Pease, an avid reader from an early age, prepared for college at a home school in Somers and at Springfield High School.  At Harvard he excelled, serving as the poet of his sophomore class.  Pease, who graduated from Harvard in 1875, taught literature at the United States Naval Academy, starting in 1876, before attending seminary.  Our saint was a master of several languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, and Italian) and their associated literature.  During his lifetime he read The Divine Comedy at least 50 times in the original Italian, at the pace of one canto per day.  He graduated from Andover Theological Seminary and became an ordained Congregationalist minister in 1880.  In August of that year he married Abbie Frances Cutter (1856-1928).  The couple had five children, most of whom did not live to adulthood.  A son, Arthur Stanley Pease (1881-1964), a Latinist, a professor of the classics, and an amateur botanist, served as the President of Amherst College from 1927 to 1932, however.  [Aside:  Once can read much of Arthur Stanley Pease’s writing at archive.org.]

Our saint served as the pastor of two congregations–West Lebanon Congregational Church, West Lebanon, New Hampshire (from 1880 to 1884); and First Congregational Church, Malden, Massachusetts (from 1884 to 1893).  He was, by all accounts, a dutiful and attentive minister.

Pease was an excellent stylist of the English language.  Robert C. Smith, D.D., wrote of him in the introduction to The Christian Ministry:  Its Present Claim and Attraction, and Other Writings (1894), a posthumously published volume of some of our saint’s writings, including an essay on The Divine Comedy plus poems and hymns:

His vocabulary became at once copious and select by a veritable conquest of words, acquiring them by wrestling from them the secret of their individual weight and force and by familiarity with them in their choicest uses; training his ear also to the energy or delicacy, and fixing them in memory, by often repeating them aloud.

–Pages vii-viii

I have added four of Pease’s hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Two others I have found do not address God directly.  One of these is a text (from 1890) pertaining to the Transfiguration:

Not long on Hermon’s holy height

The heavenly vision fills our sight;

We may not breathe that purer air,

Nor build our tabernacles there.

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One moment, like the favored Three,

We share that blessed company,

Where Moses and Elijah shine,

Transfigured in the light divine!

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The vision fades, the splendor dies;

The saints have sought again the skies;

The homely garb the Master wore

Is bright with sudden glow no more.

+++++

If with the Master we would go,

Our feet must tread the vale below,

Where dark the lonely pathways wind,

The golden glory left behind.

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Where hungry souls ask One to feed,

Where wanderers cry One to lead,

Where helpless hearts in chains are bound,–

There shall the Master still be found.

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Nor Moses nor Elijah then

We long to see appear again:

No tabernacles by the way

We build the Master’s steps to stay!

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There patient bending o’er his task,–

No raiment white our eyes shall ask,

Content while through each cloud we trace

The glory of the Master’s face.

Here is an Easter hymn from 1891:

“Jesus is risen!” Lift up your glad voices!

Night’s dreary shadows are vanished away;

Hark, at the tidings the wide earth rejoices!

“Jesus is risen, is risen today!”

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Death’s iron bondage his strong hands have broken;

“Come,” speaks the angel, “behold where he lay!

Faithful the promise his own lips have spoken:

Jesus is risen, is risen today.”

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Fair by his open grave blossoms the garden;

Life follows death, bloom is born of decay,

Song after sorrow, and peace after pardon:

“Jesus is risen, is risen today!”

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Light dawns in darkness, and comfort in sadness;

Death shall no longer our spirits dismay;

Tears turn to praises, and griefs change to gladness:

“Jesus is risen, is risen today.”

Pease became the Bartlett Professor of Sacred Theology and Lecturer on Pastoral Theology at Andover Theological Seminary, Andover, Massachusetts, in June 1893.  He continued to serve as pastor of First Congregational Church, Malden, until September 3, shortly before his inauguration 17 days later.  Our saint’s time at Andover was brief, however, for typhoid fever claimed his life on November 20, 1893.  He was 40 years old.

Upon receiving his license to preach Pease said:

I have always known that I could never be anything else than a Christian minister.

He was also a fine linguist and a scholar of literature.  Pease combined intellectual excellence and rigor with deep faith in God.  He honored God with his mind.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FOSTER, ENGLISH MORAVIAN BISHOP, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWNLIE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Theodore Claudius Pease 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

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