Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1790s’ Category

Feast of St. Magdalena of Canossa (May 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Magdalena of Canossa

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAGDALENA GABRIELA CANOSSA (MARCH 1, 1774-APRIL 10, 1835)

Foundress of the Daughters of Charity and the Sons of Charity

Also known as Saint Maddalena of Canossa

Alternative feast days = April 10 and May 9

St. Magdalena of Canossa, the third of six children of a noble family, devoted much of her life to serving Christ in the poor of Verona.  Our saint, born in Verona on March 1, 1774, experienced family turmoil, including the death of her father and the remarriage of her mother.  At the age of 17 years St. Magdalena planned to become a Carmelite nun until she discerned a different vocation.  While our saint ran the family estate she fed hungry people and provided religious education to poor people in the suburbs of Verona.  She did this until 1808.

In 1808 St. Magdalena left the estate, over the opposition of her family.  She had already formed a community to work among the poor of Verona in the name of Christ.  Members of the community taught, offered catechesis, tended to female patients in hospitals, ran seminars to train rural teachers as well as helpers for priests, and provided annual spiritual exercises for noble women.  The purpose of the final task was to involve them in charitable works.  Later she opened these spiritual exercises to all who sought to participate.

St. Magdalena founded two orders–the Daughters of Charity (1819 and 1820) and the Sons of Charity (1831), both of which have spread out across the world.

She died, aged 61 years, at Verona, on Good Friday, April 10, 1835.

Pope Pius XI declared our saint a Venerable in 1927.  Pope Pius XII declared her a Blessed in 1941.  Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN DOBER, MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER; JOHANN LEONHARD DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND ANNA SCHINDLER DOBER, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDITH CAVELL, NURSE AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENNETH OF SCOTLAND, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, ARCHBISHOP

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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 to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

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

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, 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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Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (May 5)   1 comment

Above:  Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED EDMUND IGNATIUS RICE (JUNE 1, 1762-AUGUST 29, 1844)

Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools of Ireland and the Congregation of Presentation Brothers

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Let us do ever so little for God; we will be sure He will never forget it, nor let it pass unrewarded.

–Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice

 

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Two orders of men date their founding to 1802 and to Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, an Irish Roman Catholic businessman who devoted much of his life to educating poor children.  Rice, born at Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, on June 1, 1762, was a son of Robert and Margaret Rice.  He attended a technically illegal Catholic school.  In 1779 Rice went to work for his uncle, an importer and exporter, at Waterford.  After the uncle died Rice became the sole proprietor.  He, a wealthy man, belonged to a local society devoted to helping the poor.  Yet our saint wanted to do more.

There were practical considerations, however.  Rice was a widower.  His wife, Mary Elliott, whom he had married in 1785, had died in 1789, leaving our saint to raise a newborn and mentally handicapped daughter.  There was also the fact that Rice, who was earning much money, could use those funds for holy purposes.  Was this not better than entering an order and taking a vow of poverty?  That was the counsel of more than person in 1794.  Rice remained a merchant until  1800, after which he began to found schools and religious orders.

Rice opened his first school (legally) at Waterford in 1802.  Thus his second phase of life and work began.  He and a group of men made vows as Presentation Brothers, subject to local bishops.  With Papal recognition in 1820 Rice’s order changed.  Continuing Presentation Brothers remained subject to local bishops while Rice transferred Christian Brothers across diocesan boundaries.  Our saint, an advocate for the rights of widows and orphans, retired as Superior General of the Christian Brothers in 1838, due to ill health.  He died, aged  82 years, at Waterford, on August 29, 1844.  At the time the Christian Brothers were present in Ireland, England, and Australia.

Pope John Paul II declared Rice a Venerable in 1993 then a Blessed three years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHEW THE EVANGELIST, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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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 Edmund Ignatius Rice,

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 James Montgomery (April 30)   1 comment

Above:  Statue of James Montgomery

Image Source = Mick Knapton

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JAMES MONTGOMERY (NOVEMBER 4, 1771-APRIL 30, 1854)

Anglican and Moravian Hymn Writer

James Montgomery was one of the greatest English hymn writers, by quality of those texts as well as the quantity of them–more than 400.  The Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923) included 52 of his hymns–certainly an impressive count.

James Montgomery, born on November 4, 1771, at Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, was one of several sons of John Montgomery, the only Moravian minister in Scotland.  Our saint, who started writing poetry at the age of 10 years, studied at Bracehill, a Moravian settlement in Ireland, where his family had settled in 1776.  A few years later the parents left their sons behind, in the care of the Moravian Church, and became missionaries to Barbados, where they died.  Young James continued his education at Fulneck Seminary, Fulneck, England.  He was, however, a bad student, so school officials apprenticed him to a baker.  Montgomery ran away from the baker and fled to Mirfield in 1787.  There he got a job in retail, but became bored with that position.  So it came to pass that he left that job and relocated to Wath, near Rotherham, and went to work in another store.  That position did not satisfy Montgomery either, so he left for London.  In that city he searched in vain for someone to publish his poetry.  In 1792, however, he did find a job he liked–assistant to one Jospeh Gales, an auctioneer, a bookseller, and the publisher of the Sheffield Register.

Montgomery was, by the standards of Tory politics, a revolutionary; so was Gales.  Our saint approved of the storming of the Bastille, favored the abolition of slavery and of the slave trade, and was concerned about the plight of child laborers.  He was a radical who did not shrink from challenging conventions and institutions.  In the wake of the French Revolution the administration of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger clamped down on dissent (even that of the peaceful variety) and suspended the writ of habeas corpus.  There was, therefore, no freedom of speech or of the press for a time–all in the name of national security, a poor excuse for suppressing civil liberties.  Gales fled the country rather than go to prison for having published certain articles and editorials.  Montgomery assumed leadership of the newspaper, which he renamed the Sheffield Iris.  For 31 years, until 1825, he edited the publication.  Twice he went to prison for political reasons.  The first term was due to a text in praise of the storming of the Bastille.  The second period of incarceration followed the printing of details of a riot at Sheffield.

Montgomery, who helped to found the Eclectic Review in 1825 and contributed to it frequently for years, lectured on poetry at Sheffield and at the Royal Institution, London.  Our saint, who left the Moravian Church for The Church of England, returned to the Unitas Fratrum in 1812.  As an Anglican, Montgomery promoted the congregational singing of hymns, as opposed to the traditional metrical Psalms.  (Congregational hymn singing displaced metrical Psalms in Anglicanism in the 1800s.)  Our saint also encouraged foreign missions and worked with the British Bible Society.  Some of his hymns were parts of these evangelistic efforts.

Some of Montgomery’s notable hymns were:

  1. “We Bid Thee Welcome in the Name of Jesus” (for the ordination and installation of a minister),
  2. “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,”
  3. “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Gates of Brass,”
  4. “Angels, from the Realms of Glory,” and
  5. “O Bless the Lord, My Soul.”

Major works of our saint, awarded (by a Whig government) a royal pension of 200 pounds–that is, 17,400 pounds, adjusted for inflation to 2016 currency, measured according to the retail price index–per annum in 1833, included:

  1. Prison Amusements (1796),
  2. The Ocean (1805),
  3. The Wanderer of Switzerland (1806),
  4. The West Indies (1810),
  5. The World Before the Flood (1812),
  6. Greenland, and Other Poems (1819),
  7. Songs of Zion (1822),
  8. The Christian Psalmist (1825),
  9. The Pelican Island (1827),
  10. Collected Poems (1841), and
  11. Original Hymns (1853).

Montgomery died in his sleep at his home on The Mount, Sheffield, on April 30, 1854.  He was 84 years old.  A large public funeral followed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FLORA MACDONALD, CANADIAN STATESWOMAN AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF NANCY BYRD TURNER, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS, 1974 AND 1975

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

James Montgomery 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 Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (April 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Grave of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale

Image Source = Midnightdreary

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SARAH JOSEPHA BUELL HALE (OCTOBER 24, 1788-APRIL 30, 1879)

Poet, Author, Editor, and Prophetic Witness

The Episcopal Church, in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), lists Sarah Josepha Buell Hale as “Editor and Prophetic Witness” and sets April 30 as her feast day.  This commemoration dates to 2009, when the denominational General Convention voted to recognize her and other “new” saints listed in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints, the expansion of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, still (as of 2017), the official calendar of saints for The Episcopal Church.

Sarah Josepha Buell, a native of New Hampshire, entered the world on October 24, 1788.  She came from a somewhat socially and politically revolutionary family.  Her parents, Captain Gordon Buell and Martha Buell, advocated for the equal education of males and females at a time when young women usually received educations designed to prepare them to become mothers and homemakers, not to pursue careers.  Sarah married attorney David Hale in 1813.  They remained married until 1822, when he died a few days before the birth of their fifth child.  Our saint wore black for the rest of her life and supported her family and herself as a writer and journalist.

Hale published more than 50 volumes, from poetry to novels to cookbooks to works on women’s history.  Her first volume of poetry was The Genius of Oblivion (1823).  Northwood:  A Tale of New England (1827) was the first American novel by a woman and one of the earliest American novels to address chattel slavery.  Poems for Our Little Children (1830) gave the world “Mary had a little lamb.”  The premise of Woman’s Record, or Sketches from the Creation to the Present Day (1853; revised in 1869 and 1876), her most popular book, was the moral superiority of women over men and the equating of the progress of women and that of Christianity.

Hale who grew up reading books such as the Bible and The Pilgrim’s Progress, was ahead of her time in some ways and of her time in others.  True to her age, our saint bought into the twin fallacies of separate spheres and republican motherhood, whereby men and women moved in different social circles and women functioned properly as the moral guardians of the republic, raising young Americans, joining patriotic organizations, and lobbying male office holders yet did not vote or hold public offices.  Hale used her positions as the Editor of the popular Ladies’ Magazine (from 1828 to 1837) and its successor, Godey’s Lady’s Book (from 1837 to 1877) to promote her middle class notions of morality, etiquette, attire, et cetera.  On the other hand, she used those positions to promote the equal education of males and females, to help found Vassar College (in 1861), to argue for the property rights for women as well as for access to health care, to support women who chose careers, and to oppose slavery.  During the Civil War Hale supported the Union cause.  Before and after that conflict she promoted national unity.

Hale contributed to her nation in other ways.  She promoted the preservation of the historic sites at Bunker Hill and Mount Vernon.  And, starting in 1846, our saint advocated for the nationalization of the Thanksgiving holiday, observed in some states (mainly in New England) on different dates at the time.  President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Decree (1863) was the culmination of her efforts in that regard.

Hale died on April 30, 1879.  She was 90 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Gracious God, we bless your Name for the union and witness of Sarah Hale,

whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement.

Make us grateful for your many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families,

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 30:17-19, 22

Psalm 96

Philippians 1:27-2:2

Matthew 5:1-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 353

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Feast of William Cowper (April 26)   2 comments

Above:  William Cowper

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM COWPER (NOVEMBER 15, 1731-APRIL 25, 1800)

Anglican Hymn Writer

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Of all the men that I ever heard pray, no one equaled Mr. Cowper.

–Andrew Fuller of Olney, England, 1776

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Wiliam Cowper, great English poet and hymn writer, struggled with depression throughout his life.  Our saint, born at Hertfordshire, on November 15, 1731, was the son of John C. Cowper, the Anglican rector there and a chaplain to King George III.  Our saint, attached to his mother, lost her to death when he was six years old.  Young William, a shy boy, suffered due to bullies as he grew up.

Cowper honored his family’s wishes and went into the legal profession.  He became an apprentice at age 18 and studied law at Westminster.  Cowper gained admission to the bar in 1754.  He proposed marriage to cousin Theodora Cowper, but her father prevented the union.  From 1759 to 1763 our saint served as the Commissioner of Bankrupts.  In 1763 Cowper served briefly as the Clerk of Journals for the House of Lords, but could not bear to speak in public.  Our saint’s first attempted suicide ended that job and led to about a year at the asylum at St. Albans.

At this point I step aside from the narrative of Cowper’s life to make some comments.  Sources I have consulted indicate that he, citing his at least two suicide attempts, considered himself damned.  At least, according to my sources, had long periods of time during which he thought he was bound for Hell.  I know that the reason tor this was the traditional heresy that suicide leads to damnation.  Suicide and attempted suicide are difficult topics.  Those acts result from hopelessness.  I do not suffer, as Cowper did, but I do know what it is to be suicidal and to think that going on with life is not a feasible option.  I am grateful that I was able to push through those circumstances.  I also sympathize with Cowper.

Cowper rebuilt his life after his release from the asylum.  The Reverend Morely Unwin and his family took our saint into their household at Huntingdon.  Cowper met John Newton (1725-1807), the Curate of Olney, in 1767 when the famous priest came to express his condolences after Morely had died.  Afterward Mary Unwin (Morely’s widow) and Cowper moved to Olney.  Our saint became Newton’s lay assistant and visited parishioners.  Cowper also contributed 67 texts to Olney Hymns (1779), which he and Newton edited.

Cowper, a skilled writer, created great art out of his distress.  For example, the great hymn “O For a Closer Walk With God” (December 9, 1769), originally six stanzas, came from a time when Mary Unwin, his friend, was critically ill.  At that time Cowper wrote a friend:

Oh for no will but the will of my heavenly Father!…She is the chief of blessings I have met with in my journeys since the Lord was pleased to call me…Her illness has been a sharp trial to me.  Oh, that it may have a sanctified effect, that I may rejoice to surrender up to the Lord my dearest comforts, the moment He may require them….I began to compose the verses yesterday morning before daybreak, but fell asleep at the end of the first two lines; when I waked again, the third and fourth were whispered to my heart in a way which I have often experienced.

–Quoted in Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (St. Louis, MO:  Eden Publishing House, 1952), page 356

Mary recovered and went on to live for many more years.  In 1773 they planned to become husband and wife, but his mental distress ended the engagement.  This prompted Cowper’s second attempt at suicide.  He recovered, took up gardening as a hobby, and began to keep pets.  In 1795 Mary became an invalid.  Cowper served as her caregiver until she died the following year.

Cowper wrote hymns (at least 67 of them), translated works of Homer, and wrote several original volumes.  In 1791 he began to collect an annual pension of 300 pounds.  He remained a withdrawn man, one who required hours of preparation before praying in public.  Perhaps being so withdrawn helped with his writing.

One text, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” (1774), which he wrote a few months after a suicide attempt, has earned a reputation as the greatest hymn on the topic of providence.

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

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Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never-failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs,

And works His sovereign will.

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Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.

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Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

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His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

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Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

–Quoted in The Hymnal (1895), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Cowper, who would have benefited from better therapy, had he lived during later times, died on April 25, 1800.  He was 68 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 19, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT POEMEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT JOHN THE DWARF AND ARSENIUS THE GREAT; ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT AMBROSE AUTPERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN PLESSINGTON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

William Cowper 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 Reginald Heber (April 3)   1 comment

(c) British Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) British Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Above:  Reginald Heber

Image in the Public Domain

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REGINALD HEBER (APRIL 21, 1783-APRIL 3, 1826)

Anglican Bishop of Calcutta and Hymn Writer

The feast day of Reginald Heber in the Church of North India is April 3.  The Book of Worship of the Church of North India (1995) lists his citation as “Reginald Heber (1826):  Bishop, Evangelist.”

Reginald Heber came from an old and prominent Yorkshire family and became a great poet.  He, born at Malpas, Cheshire, England, on April 21, 1783, was a son of Reginald Heber (Sr., I guess), the Anglican Rector of Hodnet.  (Aside:  Would using suffixes, such as “Sr.,” “Jr.,” and “III” have been so difficult?)  Young Reginald Heber received a fine education, which he used.  At the age of seven years he translated Phaedrus, a Socratic dialogue, into English.  Later, at Brasenose College, Oxford, our saint won the prize for the best Latin poem and won the Newdigate Prize for the poem Palestine.  Heber, a Fellow of All Souls College, toured Europe with a friend in 1806.

Then Heber became an Anglican priest.  In 1807 he took Holy Orders.  From 1807 to 1823 served as the Rector of Hodnet.  Along the way he did the following:

  1. He married Amelia Shipley (in 1809) and had to children with her.
  2. He began to publish hymns keyed to the church year in the Christian Observer (in 1811 forward) and worked on Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year, completed by Amelia and published in 1827.  Heber contributed 57 of the 98 hymns.
  3. He became the Prebendary of St. Asaph (1812).
  4. He delivered the Bampton Lectures in 1815.  His topic was The Personality and Office of the Comforter.
  5. He became the Preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London (1822).

Heber was a liturgical pioneer.  At the time proper Anglicans sang metrical Psalms and dissenters from the Established Church sang hymns.  Our saint, however, embraced the singing of hymns and set out to write texts that would stand the test of time.  Three ideas guided him as he composed hymn texts:

  1. The hymn must be part of the liturgy of the Church and must therefore adapt itself to the Church calendar.
  2. The hymn should come after the Nicene Creed and complement the message of the sermon.
  3. It should be a literary masterpiece.

–Quoted in Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952), page 713

I have added 12 of Heber’s texts addressed to God at my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  One might already know “Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!,” a hymn for Trinity Sunday, but one might not be familiar with the splendid “When Spring Unlocks the Flowers.”  Unfortunately, many of Heber’s hymns have fallen out of use; I had to find most of those 12 hymns in old hymnals, some of them about a century old.

Heber’s final title was Bishop of Calcutta (1823-1826).  He had a challenging task, for he was the missionary bishop of all of British India.  Our saint worked hard until he died of apoplexy on April 3, 1826, 18 days short of his forty-third birthday.

Heber has not failed to attract criticism post-mortem.  Many of those negative words have been due to a particular hymn, dated 1819:

From Greenland’s icy mountains,

From India’s coral strand,

Where Afric’s sunny fountains

Roll down their golden sand,

From many an ancient river,

From many a palmy plain,

They call us to deliver

Their land from error’s chain.

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What though the spicy breezes

Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle;

Though every prospect pleases,

And only man is vile:

In vain with lavish kindness

The gifts of God are strown;

The heathen in his blindness

Bows down to wood and stone.

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Can we, whose souls are lighted

With wisdom from on high,

Can we to men benighted

The lamp of life deny?

Salvation! O salvation!

The joyful sound proclaim,

Till each remotest nation

Has learned Messiah’s Name.

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Waft, waft, ye winds, his story,

And you, ye waters, roll,

Till like a sea of glory

It spreads from pole to pole;

Till o’er our ransomed nature

The Lamb for sinners slain,

Redeemer, King, Creator,

In bliss returns to reign.

This hymn has long been a lightning rod for a variety of constituencies.  “And only man is vile” (from the second stanza), a reference to Original Sin, has offended non-Christians and some Christians alike.  Also, the end of the second stanza, with its imagery of heathens bowing down to wood and stone has offended many.  These criticisms have really been about allegations of imperialism and ethnocentrism.  As I learned in Anthropology 101 many moons ago, both cultural relativism and ethnocentrism are fallacies.  I would be surprised if Heber were free of any degree of ethnocentrism, but I have also detected cultural relativism in criticisms of the hymn.

This hymn has fallen out of favor in modern hymnody.  It has, of course, fallen into disuse in mainline churches, as measured by denominational hymnals.  The hymn has also fallen out of favor in more conservative denominations, as measured by their hymnals.  I, as a collector of hymnals, have consulted my library and found that, in the current generation of conservative Protestant denominational hymnals, the following volumes, successors to volumes that included this hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” is absent:

  1. Baptist Hymnal (2008),
  2. The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (1996),
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996),
  4. Lift Up Your Hearts:  Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (2013),
  5. Lutheran Service Book (2006), and
  6. Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990).

Furthermore, the official list of hymns for the Trinity Psalter Hymnal (scheduled for publication in late 2017), successor to the Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990), does not include “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains.”  Nevertheless, the Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (1994) does.

More people should lighten up.

Heber could have led a life of relative ease at Hodnet, but he accepted the challenge to become a missionary bishop.  He spent his life glorifying God and left a legacy in souls and in theologically dense and well-composed hymn texts.  He was certainly worthy of recognition as a saint.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Reginald Heber 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 St. Ludovico Pavoni (April 1)   Leave a comment

ludovico-pavoni

Above:  St. Ludovico Pavoni

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT LUDOVICO PAVONI (SEPTEMBER 11, 1784-APRIL 1, 1849)

Roman Catholic Priest and Educator

Also known as Saint Lodovico Pavoni

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Rigorism keeps Heaven empty.

–St. Ludovico Pavoni

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St. Ludovico Pavoni mentored thousands of boys and young men over a period of time measured in decades.  The native of Brescia, in the Duchy of Milan, entered the world on September 11, 1784.  During the Napoleonic period in Italy (1799-1814) the seminaries in at least part of the peninsula were closed, so our saint studied for the priesthood under the tutelage of Father Carlo Domenico Ferrari, who went on to serve as the Bishop of Brescia from 1834 to 1846.  Pavoni, ordained to the priesthood in 1807, opened an oratory for street boys the same year.  The purpose of this work was to help them make good decisions.  In 1812 our saint became the secretary to Bishop Gabrio Nava.  Six years later Pavoni became the pastor of the Church of St. Barnabas, and oratory transformed into a greater project.

In 1818 Pavoni founded an orphanage and an associated vocational school.  Three years later the school became the Institute of St. Barnabas.  He expanded the number of trades taught at the Institute over the years.  These trades included typography and book binding (via the publishing house), carpentry, blacksmithing, silversmithing, shoe making, dye making, and tool making.  He also added agricultural skills (via the farm  attached to the Institute).  In 1823 Pavoni expanded the student body to include deaf mutes.  Two years later he founded a religious institute of priests and brothers and brothers to continue the work of the Institute of St. Barnabas in Brescia.  Pope Gregory XVI granted papal approval for this religious institute in 1843.  Four years later Pavoni became one of the first members of the Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate (the Pavoniani), dedicated to working in Brescia and beyond.

Pavoni died in 1849.  He had already ministered to residents of Brescia during an outbreak of cholera.  His final selfless deed was to lead his boys to safety away from Brescia, which was burning during a rebellion against Austria, on March 24.  They found shelter at the novitiate on the hill of Saviano, about 12 kilometers outside of town.  He died at Saviano on Palm Sunday, April 1, 1849.  Pavoni was 64 years old.

Pavoni is the patron saint of the Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate, members of which work in six countries.

Pope Pius XII declared Pavoni a Venerable in 1947.  Pope John Paul II beatified him in 2002.  Pope Francis canonized our saint in 2016.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 11, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ONESIMUS, BISHOP OF BYZANTIUM

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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, one God, 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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