Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1630s’ Category

Feast of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson (April 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Rhode Island

Image in the Public Domain

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ROGER WILLIAMS (1603?-BETWEEN JANUARY 27 AND MARCH 15, 1683)

Founder of Rhode Island

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ANNE MARBURY HUTCHINSON (1591-AUGUST OR SEPTEMBER 1643)

Rebellious Puritan

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PROPHETIC WITNESSES

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Well-behaved women seldom make history.

–Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.

–Roger Williams

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The feast day of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson in The Episcopal Church is February 5.  On my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, the feast day is April 18.  The irony of Williams and Hutchinson, who left The Church of England, which they considered too Catholic, being saints on the Episcopal calendar, does not escape me.  I interpret the irony as an indication of the broad mindedness of The Episcopal Church.

Anne Marbury, born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, in 1591, was a daughter of the Reverend Francis Marbury (1555-1611) and his second wife, Bridget Dryden, a cousin of playwright John Dryden (1631-1700).  Anne, baptized on July 17, 1591, grew up in a home with strong Puritan influences.  Her mother had strong nonconformist roots.  Francis, an Anglican priest, insisted publicly that has not a Puritan, but he made occasional public denunciations of The Church of England for being too Catholic.  Such statements belied his public denials of not being a Puritan and led to two trials (in 1578 and 1591) and years (as in 1591-1594) of house arrest, followed by public silence regarding certain opinions.  His life and double life ended, due to natural causes, in 1611.

Francis Marbury supervised the education of his children who survived infancy.  He and his first wife (Elizabeth Moore, who died in 1585) had three daughters from 1581 to 1585.  Marbury and his second wife had fifteen children from 1588 to 1610.  Anne was his sixth child and his third child with Bridget Dryden.  He and Bridget raised Anne as a well-educated, Biblically literate, confident, and assertive young woman.

In 1612 Anne married William Hutchinson, with whom she had grown up in London and who had attended her father’s church.  They were devoted to each other for the rest of their lives.  The couple also had fifteen children from 1613 to 1636.  (Her final pregnancy terminated via miscarriage in 1636.)  Anne, William, ten of their children, Katherine Marbury Scott (Anne’s sister), Katherine’s husband, and Anne and Frances Freiston (William’s unmarried cousins) sailed for Boston, Massachusetts Bay colony, in 1634.

Above:  The Coat of Arms of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Image in the Public Domain

Notice the arrogant reference to the Macedonian Call in the Indian’s words.

Puritans came in two varieties–the Separatists and the Non-Separatists.  The Separatist Puritans considered The Church of England to be too Catholic and beyond the possibility of redemption.  The Non-Separatist Puritans agreed that The Church of England was too Catholic yet not that it was beyond the possibility of redemption.  Despite their de jure status as Anglicans, the Non-Separatist Puritans of New England had separated de facto, for they did not worship according to The Book of Common Prayer.

Roger Williams was a Separatist Puritan.  He, born in London (perhaps in 1603), was a son of merchant James Williams and his wife, Alice Pemberton Williams, who hailed from a family of merchants.  Young Roger worked as a legal clerk for Sir Edward Coke.  Williams also studied at the Charterhouse (1621-1624) then at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge (1624-1627).  After Cambridge our saint became the chaplain to Sir William Marsham in Otes, Essex County.  In that assignment Williams completed his transformation from an Anglican into a Puritan.

Williams sailed for the new Massachusetts Bay colony (Non-Separatist) in late 1630 and arrived the following year.  He declined the opportunity to become the minister at Salem.  Not only did he insist that a royal land grant was illegitimate because colonists should purchase land from indigenous people, but he also refused to be a pastor to Non-Separatists.  So, in 1632, Williams relocated to the Plymouth colony (Separatist).  There he remained for about a year; his opinion regarding royal land grants also proved unpopular in the Plymouth colony.

So it came to pass that Williams returned to the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1633.  He finally accepted the offer to become the minister at Salem, but civil magistrates opposed him.  Williams called upon the leaders of the colony do do officially what they had done in practice–separate from The Church of England.  He also argued that the civil magistrate should have no role in religion.  The state should never compel anyone to pray, Williams stated.

The call for the separation of church and state contradicted Puritan and Anglican norms.  Contrary to popular misconception, the founders of the Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay colonies were champions of religious freedom.  No, they left England proper to find religious liberty for themselves and those who agreed with them, but persecuted dissidents.  The founders of those colonies failed the basic test of religious freedom–a general policy of toleration.  Williams was more fortunate that some other dissidents; his fate was merely banishment.  (Authorities hanged some Quakers decades later.)  He and his traveling companions walked out of the Massachusetts Bay colony in January 1636.  In April they arrived that the future site of the settlement of Providence.  He purchased the land from the Narragansett tribe, befriended them, and learned their language.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Anne was being herself and getting into trouble.  The fact that she got into trouble reflected negatively on her persecutors, not on her.  At home meetings during which she, other pious women, and certain others discussed the most recent sermon, she criticized the theology of the Reverend John Wilson.  Anne, a devout Calvinist, accused Wilson of having preached the Covenant of Works, not the Covenant of Grace.  Ministers were pillars of the theocracy in Puritan New England.  They were also, according to Puritan orthodoxy, closer to God than mere laypeople–certainly a woman.  Furthermore, Hutchinson taught that the Holy Spirit dwells in everyone and that salvation comes via divine grace.  Her teaching regarding the Holy Spirit (literally, God speaks to everyone) threatened the exalted status of ministers in the Puritan hierarchy.  Hutchinson, brought up on charges in 1637 and sentenced to banishment late in the year, spent the beginning of the year and the beginning of the next one as a prisoner, due to the cold weather.  She and her companions settled on Aquidneck Island in the Spring of 1638.  During this difficult time of her life she was pregnant.  After she left the Massachusetts Bay colony, she suffered a miscarriage.  Certain Puritan divines understood this as evidence of God’s judgment on her.

William Hutchinson became a civic leader in Portsmouth, on Aquidneck Island.  In 1639 he became the treasurer.  Later that year he became he the chief magistrate.  In 1640, when Aquidneck Island joined the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, he became an assistant governor.  He died the following year.

In 1642-1644 Rhode Island was in peril, for orthodox Puritan forces were threatening to conquer it.  Williams secured the future of the colony by obtaining charter from the royal government in 1644.  During the time of uncertainty, however, Anne and six of her children relocated to Long Island, then part of New Netherland, in 1642.  There, in August or September 1643, some Native Americans killed her and five of her children.  This, certain Puritan divines in Massachusetts claimed, was more evidence of divine judgment on her.

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was one of the minority of the thirteen colonies to have no official religion.  Religious toleration was the policy there.  Williams had definite and changing religious opinions, none of which he imposed on anyone.  His house church became the First Baptist Church, Providence, in 1637.  He resigned as pastor the following year.  He went on to identify as a seeker and to reject organized religion.  The colony became a haven for a variety of people, including Quakers (founded in England in 1652), aspects of whose theology Anne Hutchinson had presaged.  Williams argued publicly against Quaker theology, but he welcomed Friends into his colony.

Williams, who supported himself financially as a farmer and a merchant, died broke; his commerce never recovered from the great regional disruption that was King Philip’s War (1675-1676).  Williams between January 27 and March 15, 1683, aged about 80 years.

Alan Heimert concluded his article of Williams in The Encyclopedia Americana (1962) with these words:

Roger Williams, who even as a shaker of nations had never been wholly of this world, was perhaps the purest of American Puritans.

–Volume 28, page 792

Williams was certainly a man committed to certain principles.  He was, for all his faults and inconsistencies, a champion of religious toleration.  He and Anne Hutchinson, with whom he might have had some fascinating arguments, challenged authority figures who deserved the challenges.  These two saints were pioneers of American religious liberty.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 10, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SCHEFFLER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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O God, our light and salvation, who makes all free to worship you:

May we ever strive to be faithful to your call,

following the example of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson,

that we may faithfully set our hands to the Gospel plow,

confident in the truth proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ; who with you

and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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O God, our light and salvation, we thank you for Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson,

whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ

made them brave prophets of religious tolerance in the American colonies;

and we pray that we also may follow paths of holiness and good conscience,

guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ; who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Kings 17:1-16

Psalm 133

1 Peter 1:13-16

Luke 9:51-62

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 211

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Feast of Johann Cruger (April 8)   Leave a comment

 

Above:  Johann Cruger

Image in the Public Domain

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As a writer and editor of tunes this distinguished musician occupies a special niche in the hymnic hall of fame.

–Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952)

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Johann Cruger ranks among the greatest composers in the Lutheran Church.  He, born at Gross-Breesen, Brandenburg, on April 9, 1598, studied at Guben, Sorau, and Breslau before studying at the Jesuit school at Olmutz then the Poets’ School at Regensburg.  At Regensburg Cruer studied music under Paul Homberber, who had been a student of Giovanni Gabrieli.  Next our saint traveled in Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Moravia before settling in Berlin in 1615.  Then he worked as a private tutor until 1620, when he began to study music and theology at the University of Wittenberg.

Cruger settled at Berlin again in 1622, when he became the cantor (organist and choirmaster) at St. Nicholas Church and a teacher at the Gray Cloister.  Our saint held both posts for the rest of his life–about 40 years.  Cruger composed at least 122 chorale tunes, 18 of which remained in widespread use at the times of the publication of The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) and Lutheran Worship (1982).  In 1657 Paul Gerhardt became the deacon at St. Nicholas Church.  They became friends and Cruger set 21 texts by Gerhardt to music.

Cruger edited and published five important volumes:

  1. Neues vollkommliches Gesangbuch (1640), with 161 hymns;
  2. Praxis Pietatis Melica (first edition, 1644; forty-fourth edition, 1736); the twenty-third edition (1688) included 1114 hymns; the forty-third edition had 1316 hymns;
  3. Geistliche Kirchenmelodien (1649), with 161 hymns;
  4. Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen (1653), with 92 tunes and no texts; and
  5. Psalmodia Sacra (1657), with 319 texts; intended for Huguenot immigrants.

Cruger died at Berlin on February 23, 1662.  He was 63 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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

thank you for those (especially Johann Cruger)

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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Feast of John Donne (March 31)   1 comment

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Above:  John Donne

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN DONNE (JANUARY 21, 1572-MARCH 31, 1631)

Anglican Priest and Poet

John Donne–Anglican priest, popular preacher, and metaphysical poet–was a complicated character who sought after God and struggled with ambition.

Our saint, born in London, England, on January 21, 1572, was a son of John Donne and Elizabeth Heywood.  (Aside:  The English tradition of naming sons after fathers without using suffixes can prove quite confusing.)  John Donne the Elder, a wealthy merchant, died in 1576.  Elizabeth Heywood Donne was a daughter of John Heywood, a playwright.  John Heywood’s wife was a daughter of the sister of St. Thomas More.  Both of our saint’s parents were devout Roman Catholics.  Furthermore, two of his maternal uncles were Jesuits who died in exile and Henry, his younger brother, died of fever in prison at the age of 19 years in 1593.  Henry’s crime was to shelter a Roman Catholic priest.

Our saint, young “Jack” Donne, was also a Roman Catholic.  In 1584 he began his studies at Hart Hall, Oxford.  He never formally graduated because a requirement for doing so was to take the oath of supremacy.  Donne, as a Roman Catholic, could not do that.  Next he studied at Cambridge.  In 1591-1592 he was a law student at Thavies Inn, L0ndon.  From 1592 too 1596 he studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, London.  By the 1590s Donne had begun to compose poetry.  He was also undecided about whether to remain a Roman Catholic or to convert to The Church of England.

Donne nurtured political connections.  In 1596 and 1597 he participated in the Earl of Essex’s expeditions to Cadiz and to the Azore Islands.  By 1597, when our saint had become an Anglican, he was the secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, soon to become Lord Chancellor Ellesmere.  Love interfered with Donne’s career, though.  In December 1601 he married Ann More, the niece of Egerton, without her guardians’ consent.  This led to a term of incarceration, the loss of employment, and the denial of Ann’s dowry.  This reality led Donne to become more spiritual.

The couple struggled for years.  From 1602 to 1615 they had twelve children, seven of whom survived their mother.  Eventually Donne found work writing criticisms of Roman Catholicism; he worked with Thomas Morton (later the Bishop of Durham) in this regard.  In 1607 Morton, the new Dean of Gloucester, encouraged Donne to take Holy Orders.  Our saint declined, citing a sense of worthiness.  Or perhaps he still had secular ambitions.  Eventually Sir George More, his father-in-law, paid Ann’s dowry.  Next Donne became the lawyer of Lucy, Countess of Bedford, through whom he came into contact with influential people.

Donne’s fortunes improved in 1610.  That year he published Pseudo-Martyr, a work designed to persuade Roman Catholics to take the oath of allegiance.  For this work he received an honorary M.A. from Oxford as well as favorable notice from King James VI/I.  Additional works in the field of religious controversy flowed from his pen during the next few years.  Also in 1610, Donne found a new patron, Sir Robert Drury, with whom he traveled from November 1611 to August 1612.  Afterward Donne courted Viscount Rochester (later the Earl of Somerset), a favorite of King James.  Our saint won election to the House of Commons in 1614.  The following year royal pressure ended his refusal to take Holy Orders.  His ordination occurred on January 23; he was 43 years old.

Donne became, according to reputation, the greatest preacher in England.  Like other prominent clergymen of the time, he frequently received income from two livings and was resident in only one of them.  In 1621 he became the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.  Four years later Donne preached the first sermon of the reign of King Charles I.  Our saint would have become a bishop in 1630, except for reasons of health.  He died, aged 59 years, on March 31, 1631.

Donne earned his place in the canon of literature with his metaphysical poetry, which remains in print.  Many of his sermons have also remained in print, for people to read.  His published works expressed, among other things, am awareness of his sins and of God’s mercy.

1.  Wilt thou forgive that sin, where I begun

which is my sin, though it were done before?

Wilt thou forgive those sins through which I run,

and do run still, though still I do deplore?

When thou hast done, thou hast not done, for I have more.

2.  Wilt thou forgive that sin, by which I won

others to sin, and made my sin their door?

Wilt thou forgive that sin I did shun

a year or two, but wallowed in a score?

When thou hast done, thou hast not done, for I have more.

3.  I have a sin of fear that when I’ve spun

my last thread, I shall perish on the shore;

swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son

shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore.

And having done that, thou hast done, I fear no more.

That is a theme worth pondering, is it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, ENGLISH POET AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALTO OF ALTOMUNSTER, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PORFIRIO, MARTYR

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Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being:

Open our eyes to see, with your servant John Donne,

that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:24-8:1

Psalm 27:5-11

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

John 5:19-24

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 299

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Feast of Nicholas Ferrar, George Herbert, and All Saintly Parish Priests (February 27)   Leave a comment

Flag of England

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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NICHOLAS FERRAR (FEBRUARY 22, 1592-DECEMBER 4, 1637)

Anglican Deacon and Founder of Little Gidding

His feast transferred from December 1 (in The Episcopal Church) and December 4 (in The Church of England)

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GEORGE HERBERT (APRIL 3, 1593-MARCH 1, 1633)

Anglican Priest and Metaphysical Poet

His feast (Anglican) = February 27

His feast (Lutheran) = March 1

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A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989) lists February 27 as the feast of “George Herbert, 1633, and all saintly Parish Priests.”

george-herbert

Above:  George Herbert

Image in the Public Domain

George Herbert, born at Montgomery, Wales, on April 3, 1593, came from a distinguished family.  His older brother was Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648), poet, ambassador, and proto-Deist philosopher.  Our saint, educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, became the Public Orator at Cambridge in 1620.  This position was usually a stepping stone to political advancement.  Herbert, a Member of Parliament in 1624 and 1625, found himself on the wrong side of royal politics, for he was an ally of John Williams (1582-1650), the Bishop of Lincoln, whom King Charles I (reigned 1625-1649) did not like.  (Eventually, after Herbert’s death, Williams regained royal flavor and became Archbishop of York in 1641.)

Herbert, ordained a priest in 1629, married Jane Danvers.  He also became the Rector of Bemerton, where he was a fish out of water.  The rectory was barely habitable, the church building was in terrible condition, and the congregation was poor.  The former Cambridge don was an excellent priest to his congregation.  On March 1, 1633, about a month short of his fortieth birthday, Herbert died of tuberculosis.  He seemed to have been a failure.

On his deathbed Herbert entrusted The Temple, his collected poems, to his friend, Nicholas Ferrar, who lived at Little Gidding, just down the road.  Ferrar had the book published; he wrote the preface.  Among the more famous texts as “Love Bade Me Welcome.”  Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) set five of Herbert’s poems to music as the Five Mystical Songs (link #1, link #2).

Nicholas Ferrar, born at London, England, on February 22, 1592, studied at Clare Hall, Cambridge, then became a fellow there.  Bad health became a fellow there.  Bad health forced him to leave Cambridge in 1613.  For five years Ferrar traveled in Europe.  In 1618 our saint returned to England and went to work for its Deputy Treasurer.  In 1624, after the dissolution of the Virginia Company, Ferrar became a Member of Parliament.  He left Parliament two years later, became an Anglican deacon, and founded the community of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire.  The community, which grew to about 40 people, included some of Ferrar’s relatives.  Members of the community lived simply, helped poor people, meditated, fasted, recited the Book of Psalms daily, and observed a regimen of of daily prayer dictated by The Book of Common Prayer (1559).

Ferrar died at Little Gidding on December 4, 1637.  He was 45 years old.  The community did not survive Ferrar for long, for a Puritan raid in 1646 destroyed Little Gidding, allegedly the “Arminian Nunnery” that was part of a plot to spread Roman Catholic practices throughout England.

I do not like Puritans, puritans, or Puritanism.

As for “All Saintly Parish Priests,” I write as the son of a United Methodist minister.  My formative experiences have given me a grasp of the difference between the clergy and the laity that many of my fellow parishioners who lack the background of a preacher’s kid can never understand.  George Herbert, I perceive, performed a variety of mundane and important pastoral tasks and administered sacraments.  Nobody should underestimate the value of such work, which is seldom the stuff of extended accounts in reference works and biographies, on par with the deeds of political and military leaders.  I also know that the clergy live in proverbial glass houses a variety in which others–including politicians–do not.  All saintly parish priests deserve prayers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF BLESSED KAZIMIERZ TOMAS SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Good Shepherd, king of love, accept our thanks and praise for the love and care we have received

and for your servants Nicholas Ferrar and George Herbert.

May our care for each other grow constantly more reverent and more discerning.  Amen.

Ezekiel 3:16-21

Psalm 15 or 99

2 Corinthians 4:1-10

John 10:11-16

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 681-682

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Johann Heermann (February 20)   1 comment

johann-heermann

Above:  Johann Heermann

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN HEERMANN (OCTOBER 11, 1585-FEBRUARY 17, 1647)

German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

Johann Heermann was arguably the second greatest Lutheran hymn writer, ranking behind only Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).

Heermann’s life was one of difficulties and afflictions, both natural and man-made.  He, the only one of five children to survive, seemed on the verge of death when he was a child.  Our saint promised his mother that he would study theology if he survived.  The native of Raudten, Silesia (now Rudna, Poland), survived and kept his word.  Poor eyesight frustrated Heermann’s education.  He was, however, a skilled poet, beginning his composition of Latin verse in 1605 and becoming the Holy Roman imperial poet laureate three years later.  Finally, in 1611, our saint became the minister at Koeben, on the Oder River.  That year he also married Dorothea Feige, his first wife, who died in 1617.  The couple had no children.

Fire, pestilence, and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) created much suffering for Heermann, his family, and his flock.  He married Anna Teichmann in 1618.  The couple had four children.  More than once the Heermann’s had to flee Koeben and lost all their possessions.  Our saint also nearly died more than once during these flights.

If that were no enough, health problems afflicted Heermann.  Throat problems began in 1623.  Eleven years later our saint had to stop preaching.  For about four years he was able to perform other pastoral duties, but had to retire in 1638.  Heermann retired to Lissa, Posen (now Leszno, Poland), where he died on February 17, 1647.

Heermann was an influential hymn writer.  He composed about 400 hymns, most of which nobody has translated into English.  In contrast with the older, objective style of hymn texts, our saint pioneered subjective hymns.  Themes in Heermann’s hymns included affliction, suffering, and faith and confidence during times of trial.  His legacy of hymnody has survived, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Johann Heermann and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of the Martyrs of Japan (February 5)   Leave a comment

martyrs-of-nagasaki

Above:  Martyrs of Nagasaki

Image in the Public Domain

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MARTYRS OF JAPAN, 1597-1639

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The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

–Tertullian (circa 155-circa 240)

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Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries had converted at least 300,000 Japanese by 1597.  This alarmed the Tokugawa shogun that year, for he associated Christianity with Western imperialism.  The first victims of the persecution were the Martyrs of Nagasaki, crucified together on February 5, 1597.  The 26 Franciscan missionaries, Jesuit missionaries, and Japanese converts were:

  1. St. Antony Deynan (age 13),
  2. St. Bonaventure of Miyako,
  3. St. Cosmas Takeya,
  4. St. Francis Blanco,
  5. St. Francis of Nagasaki,
  6. St. Francis of St. Michael,
  7. St. Gabriel de Duisco,
  8. St. Gundisalvus Garcia,
  9. St. James Kisai,
  10. St. Joachim Saccachibara,
  11. St. John Kisaka,
  12. St. John Soan de Goto,
  13. St. Kichi Franciscus,
  14. St. Leo Karasumaru,
  15. St. Louis Ibaraki (age 12),
  16. St. Martin of the Ascension,
  17. St. Matthias of Miyako,
  18. St. Michael Kozaki,
  19. St. Paul Ibaraki,
  20. St. Paul Miki,
  21. St. Paul Suzuki,
  22. St. Peter Baptist,
  23. St. Peter Sukejiroo,
  24. St. Philip of Jesus,
  25. St. Thomas Kozaki (age 15), and
  26. St. Thomas Xico.

The Roman Catholic Church has beatified and canonized hundreds of other Martyrs of Japan who died for the faith from 1598 to 1639.

Sustained persecutions drove Christianity in Japan underground by 1630.  Nevertheless, a remnant of the faithful persisted for more than two centuries.  When new missionaries arrived in the 1800s, they found Christians.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK COOK ATKINSON, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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O God our Father, source of strength to all your saints,

you brought the holy martyrs of Japan

through the suffering of the cross to the joys of eternal life:

Grant that we, encouraged by their example,

may hold fast the faith we profess, even to death itself;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:10-12

Psalm 40:1-11 or 40:5-11

1 Corinthians 1:18-24

John 12:23-33

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Feast of Roberto de Nobili (January 16)   Leave a comment

roberto-de-nobili

Above:  Roberto de Nobili

Image in the Public Domain

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ROBERTO DE NOBILI (1577-JANUARY 16, 1656)

Roman Catholic Missionary in India

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Roberto de Nobili comes to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from The Book of Worship of the Church of North India (1995).

De Nobili, born to Italian nobility in Montepulciano, Tuscany, in 1577, devoted his adult life to God.  He joined the Society of Jesus at Naples in 1597.  The order sent him to southern India.  Our saint sailed for India in October 1604 and arrived in Goa in May 1605.  De Nobili moved to Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in November 1606.  Within a year he mastered the Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit languages.  He met Goncalo Fernandez, a fellow Jesuit who had labored as a missionary for a decade without converting one person.  De Nobili concluded that proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner agreeable to Hindu Brahmin culture might succeed.

So our saint pursued that strategy for half a century.  De Nobili dressed like a Hindu holy man and preached to people from all castes, converting many of them.  He pioneered a controversial method of evangelism, on of which Pope Gregory XV approved in 1623.  The perception of Christianity among many Hindus was that it was the religion of the invaders, and therefore undesirable.  De Nobili sought to overcome this problem.  He worked at Madura, Mysore, and Karotic.  Our saint wrote catechisms and apologetic works, translated prayers into indigenous languages, and pioneered a missionary strategy other Jesuits followed.  He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ constantly, even during times of incarceration, such as at Madura from 1639 to 1641.  Eventually blindness and bad health forced de Nobili to retire.  He died at Mylapore on January 16, 1656.

De Nobili’s mission, successful in the short term, failed in the long term.  By 1740 the number of Indian Christians exceeded 100,000.  In 1744, however, Pope Benedict XIV suppressed the methods de Nobili favored.  This did not help, but it did not change the fact that de Nobili and his successors, despite their best efforts, never changed the widespread perception among Hindus that Christianity was the religion of the invaders.

De Nobili has remained a subject of criticism, much of it vitriolic.  Certain websites (especially weblogs) I have found via a Google search have perpetuated accusations that he was a bad person–either a heretic or an imperialist–but still a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Southern Baptist missionary Cody C. Lorance offered a nuanced critique in 2005.  He was generally sympathetic toward de Nobili while arguing that the Jesuit contributed to the longterm failure of that missionary venture.  De Nobili, Lorance argued, should have translated the Bible or parts thereof, as Lutheran Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg did subsequently.  The reason for that failure was the politics of the Counter-Reformation.  Lorance also criticized de Nobili for failing to encourage the education of Indians as priests and attributed that failure to cultural biases.

Certainly de Nobili, being a human being, was imperfect.  Yes, he could and should have done some things differently than he did.

Despite the validity of some criticisms of de Nobili and his tactics, I choose to focus on the positive.

De Nobili could have lived in relative comfort in Europe, but he chose to serve God in a foreign land.  He subjected himself to decades of hardship, including years of incarceration.  Through it all he proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ consistently.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 19, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, PRINCESS OF HUNGARY AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE NEVIN, U.S. GERMAN REFORMED LITURGIST AND COMPOSER OF HYMN TEXTS

THE FEAST OF F. BLAND TUCKER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHANN HERMANN SCHEIN, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER

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Almighty God, who called your Church to witness that you were in

Christ reconciling men to yourself:  Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love,

that all who hear it may be reconciled to you; through him who died for us and rose again

and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 97 or 100

Ephesians 2:13-22

Matthew 28:16-20

Alternative Prayer Book 1984, page 750

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