Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1640s’ Category

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 Johann Heermann (February 20)   1 comment

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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 Roberto de Nobili (January 16)   Leave a comment

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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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Feast of George Fox (January 11)   Leave a comment

fox

Above:  Memorial of George Fox

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE FOX (JULY 1624-JANUARY 13, 1691)

Founder of the Religious Society of Friends

I refer you, O reader to this biography of George Fox.

I am an Episcopalian, not a Quaker; my spiritual type is somewhere between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism–increasingly closer to the former than the latter.  Nevertheless, I have great respect for the Religious Society of Friends.  The world needs more people like them, I am convinced.  This respect extends to George Fox, of course.

The Quakers have been subject to persecution in various lands over time.  In New England, for example, Puritan authorities persecuted Quakers, hanging some of them in the late 1600s.  Religious persecution has always been wrong.  Furthermore, the violent treatment of pacifists has been especially inexcusable.  I, for one, have always thought ill of those who have engaged in such activities.

Although my conscience will not permit me to become a pacifist, I thank God for the witness of people such as the Quakers, especially of their founder, George Fox.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace:

Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity.

Give us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided, that forgiven and forgiving,

we may ever be one in Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever,

one holy and undivided Trinity.  Amen.

Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22

Psalm 51:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

Luke 23:32-43

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), page A68

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Feast of Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei (January 8)   2 comments

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Above:  The Copernican System

Image in the Public Domain

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NICOLAUS COPERNICUS (FEBRUARY 18, 1473-MAY 24, 1453)

Scientist

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GALILEO GALILEI (FEBRUARY 15, 1564-JANUARY 8, 1642)

Scientist

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Second. I say that, as you know, the Council [of Trent] prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers. And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe. Now consider whether in all prudence the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators. Nor may it be answered that this is not a matter of faith, for if it is not a matter of faith from the point of view of the subject matter, it is on the part of the ones who have spoken. It would be just as heretical to deny that Abraham had two sons and Jacob twelve, as it would be to deny the virgin birth of Christ, for both are declared by the Holy Ghost through the mouths of the prophets and apostles.

St. Robert Bellarmine, 1615

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It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.

–Galileo Galilei

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I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

–Galileo Galilei

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The Bible shows us the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.

–Galileo Galilei

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For biographies of these two saints I refer you, O reader, to the following links:

To bash the Roman Catholic Church for its posthumous treatment of Copernicus and its abuse of Galileo, as well as its tardiness in rescinding the decree of heresy against him, is about as easy as fishing with dynamite.  To do so while ignoring the broader, more complex history of the relationship between Holy Mother Church and science is also deceptive.  Besides, leading Protestants of the time tended to be just as skeptical of the Copernican theory and Galileo’s observations as were Roman Catholic officials.

The Copernican theory contradicted bad and well-established theology.  Sinful humans were on the Earth; God and the angels dwelt out there, according to orthodox theology.  Therefore, according to the orthodox position, to make the Sun the center and the Earth a planet orbiting it was to make a heretical statement about the place of sinful human beings in the cosmos.  Science disproved not only conventional wisdom but foundational theological assumptions.

Now, of course, we know that reality is far more revolutionary (pardon the double entendre) than Copernicus and Galileo could have guessed; the Sun is not the center of the universe.  Furthermore, our galaxy is one of many, and the Sun is far from its center.  We humans are marginal and insignificant in the universe (never mind the multiverse, if there is such a thing).  God’s creation is unimaginably vast and spectacular.

Science helps us to understand our physical reality better, if not completely.  When it does this will we accept objective reality and embrace a religious faith for the modern age?  Or will we restrict our theological horizons to those of previous eras?  Will we honor those scientists who teach us this “new” knowledge?  Or will we scorn–even persecute–them?

As Galileo understood, that which seems like orthodoxy might actually be heresy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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God of grace and glory, you create and sustain the universe in majesty and beauty:

We thank you for Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and all in whom you have

planted the desire to know your creation and to explore your work and wisdom.

Lead us, like them, to understand better the wonder and mystery of creation;

through Christ your eternal Word, through whom all things were made.  Amen.

Genesis 2:9-20

Psalm 34:8-14

2 Corinthians 13:1-6

John 20:24-27

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 738

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Feast of Blessed Severin Ott (December 11)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Premonstratensian Shield

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED SEVERIN OTT (1627-DECEMBER 11, 1708)

Roman Catholic Monk

We know little about the life of Blessed Severin Ott.  We do know, however, that he was German.  At some point Ott became Premonstratensian monk at Roggenburg, Swabia, Bavaria.  Our saint had a reputation as a man of prayer, personal penances, and one devoted to St. Mary of Nazareth.  He also promoted pilgrimages to a shrine at Scheissen, nearby.  During his later years Ott became a hermit and devoted most of his time prayer.

Some people with whom I have usually agreed and others with whom I have frequently differed have characterized saints such as Blessed Severin Ott as useless.  This has long puzzled me, for these individuals who have made such statements have affirmed the efficacy of prayer.  They have therefore contradicted themselves.

The existence of people who devote their lives to prayer comforts me.  They stand in succession with great saints, such as Blessed Severin Ott.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Blessed Severin Ott,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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

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

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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Feast of St. Peter Fourier and Blessed Alix Le Clerc (December 9)   Leave a comment

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Above:  St. Peter Fourier

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PETER FOURIER (NOVEMBER 30, 1565-DECEMBER 9, 1640)

“The Good Priest of Mattaincourt”

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BLESSED ALIX LE CLERC (DECEMBER 2, 1596-JANUARY 9, 1622)

Foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of Saint Augustine

Her feast transferred from January 9

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These two saints contributed much to education, especially that of impoverished girls.

St. Peter Fourier entered the world at Mirecourt, Lorraine, on November 30, 1565.  He joined the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine in 1585.  As a young man Fourier tutored the sons of wealthy families.  Our saint, ordained a priest in 1689, had studied at the University of Pont-a-Mousson, starting at the age of 15 years.  He returned to that university years later and studied theology.  Fourier, an excellent student, committed the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas to heart.

In 1597, at the age of 32 years, our saint became the priest at Mattaincourt, Vosges.  He remained there for nearly 30 years.  During that time Fourier did much to improve his community and earned his label, the “good priest of Mattaincourt.”  He proclaimed Roman Catholic theology plainly, lived ascetically, nursed sick people in the community, and established a bank that issued zero-interest loans.

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Above:  Blessed Alix Le Clerc

Image in the Public Domain

Fourier’s influence extended well beyond Mattaincourt.  In 1597, for example, he supported Blessed Alix Le Clerc in founding the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of Saint Augustine, an order devoted to the education of impoverished girls.  Le Clerc, born into a wealthy family at Remirement, Lorraine, on December 2, 1576, spent many of her early years in frivolous living.  The family moved to Mattaincourt when he was 18 years old.  When she was 21 years old an illness confined her to bed for a time.  She read a devotional book and devoted her life to the service of God and the poor.  Le Clerc also reported seeing visions (including one of St. Mary of Nazareth) and hearing voices that told her to help poor children.  Fourier encouraged her when many others heaped scorn upon her.

The new order started on December 24, 1597, when Le Clerc and three other young women publicly dedicated themselves to Our Lady.  Le Clerc’s father, who opposed the new order, ordered his daughter to enter the convent at Ormes instead.  She obeyed her father initially and found the milieu of the convent unsatisfactory.  Fortunately, a wealthy person donated much money to the new order, so Le Clerc had the opportunity to follow her vocation.  The sisters did their work well.  They even pioneered the use of blackboards in classrooms and the practice of nuns teaching.  The nuns overcame much opposition from relatives and ecclesiastical authorities.  Their motto was, “Let God be your love around.”  The order received papal approval in 1616.

The new order’s difficulties were not over.  Ecclesiastical politics led to Fourier replacing Le Clerc as the leader of the order.  She handled these problems gracefully, however.  Le Clerc died at Nancy, Lorraine, on January 9, 1622.  She was 45 years old.

Pope Pius XI declared Le Clerc venerable in 1932.  Fifteen years later Pope Pius XII beatified her.

1625 was an eventful year for Fourier.  For three years he had been the instructor of the canonical communities of his order in the Diocese of Toul; he continued in that position until 1629.  In 1625 those communities formed one congregation, named the Congregation of Our Savior three years later.  He became the Abbot-General of the congregation in 1632.  Also in 1625 our saint spent six months in the region of Salm-Salm, gently reclaiming it for Holy Mother Church from Calvinism.

In 1636 Fourier and some like-minded canons regular had to go into exile because they refused to swear loyalty to King Louis XIII.  They relocated to Gray, Franche-Comte.  There they ministered to victims of plague.  Fourier died at Gray on December 9, 1640.  He was 75 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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