Feast of Ignaz Franz (August 19)   3 comments

Above:  Grosser Gott, Wir Loben Dich

Image in the Public Domain

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IGNAZ FRANZ (OCTOBER 12, 1719-AUGUST 19, 1790)

German Roman Catholic Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor

Ignaz Franz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Methodist Hymnal (1966).

Franz wrote at least forty-seven hymn texts.  Yet his name has survived in the Christian Church and in hymnody via just one text, Grosser Gott, Wir Loben Dich (1771).  At least three English-speaking men have translated that text into English.  I have schedule these three men for consideration for inclusion on this Ecumenical Calendar.  For those of us who do not read or speak German, but do read and speak English, Franz’s great hymn was probably most often come down to us as “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”  This text, composed as the German Te Deum Laudamus, debuted in Franz’s major hymnal, Katholisches Gesangbuch, auf allerhoechsten Befehl ihrer k. k. apostl Majestaet Marien Theresiens zum Druck befoerert (1774).

Franz entered the world at Protzau, Silesia (now Zwrócona, Poland), on October 12, 1719.  He began his studies at Glaz (now Klodzka, Poland), when he was nine years old.  Our saint studied theology and philosophy at Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). He also mastered Italian and French there.  He, ordained to the priesthood in Olmütz (now Olomouc, Czech Republic) on September 22, 1742, became chaplain at Gross-Glogau (now Glogów, Poland).  After serving as the archpriest in Schlawa (now Slawa, Poland), our saint transferred to Breslau in 1766.  For the rest of his life, Franz worked as the Accessor at the office of the Apostolic Vicar.  He also edited catechisms.

Our saint published ten books, nine of them in Breslau.  Most of these ten volumes were hymnals.  His first hymnal, Allemeines und vollstaendiges katholishches Gesangbuch, debuted in 1768.  Our saint also published a prayer book for craftsmen and servants in 1776.  His book of tunes (1778) included Reformed and Lutheran chorale tunes.  The consensus among Protestant and Roman Catholic authorities in the area was that most of our saint’s hymns were light are, and that he was a better hymnal editor than hymn writer.

I cannot evaluate that last claim.  For all I know, some of Franz’s other hymns could be masterpieces, or merely good work, at least.

Ignaz Franz died, aged 70 years, in Breslau on August 19, 1790.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ABSALOM JONES, RICHARD ALLEN, AND JARENA LEE, EVANGELISTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN SCHMOLCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREER ANDREWS, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HENRY WILLIAMS BAKER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMNAL EDITOR, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL WEISSE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR; AND JAN ROH, BOHEMIAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER

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

thank you for those (especially Ignaz Franz)

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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3 responses to “Feast of Ignaz Franz (August 19)

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  1. Awesome piece!

  2. Pingback: Feast of Clarence Alphonsus Walworth (September 19) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  3. Pingback: Feast of Julius H. Horstmann (February 10) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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