Archive for the ‘Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’ Tag

Feast of Nathan Soderblom (July 11)   1 comment

Nathan Soderblom

Above:  Nathan Soderblom

Image in the Public Domain

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LARS OLOF JONATHAN SODERBLOM (JANUARY 15, 1866-JULY 12, 1931)

Swedish Ecumenist and Archbishop of Uppsala

His feast transferred from July 12

Archbishop Nathan Soderblom‘s name came to my attention via the calendars of saints of The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), where his feast day is July 12.  Since, however, I have decided to reserve July 12 for St. Jason of Tarsus, a Biblical figure, I have transferred the archbishop’s feast one day.

Lars Olof Jonathan “Nathan” Soderblom debuted at Trono, Halsingland, Sweden, on January 15, 1866.  His mother was the Danish-born Sophie Blume Soderblom, daughter of a medical doctor.  Our saint’s father was the Reverend Jonas Soderblom (1823-1901), descended from farmers.  The Lutheran priest was a Pietist.  Young Nathan studied at Hudiksvall then at the University of Uppsala, starting at the latter in 1883.  He graduated with degrees in Oriental languages (1886) and theology (1892).  Soderblom, who had grown up with a strict form of Lutheranism, liberalized during his postsecondary education.  This fact disturbed his father, who feared that our saint was becoming a freethinker.

Soderblom became a Lutheran priest.  He, ordained in 1893, served first as a hospital chaplain in Uppsala.  In 1894 he married Anna Forsell (1870-1955).  The couple had twelve children, eleven whom survived to adulthood.  Each of the three surviving daughters married a future bishop of the Church of Sweden, and one of the eight sons entered the ordained ministry.  From 1894 to 1901 Soderblom was the chaplain to the Swedish legation in Paris and pastor to Swedish seamen at Calais and Dunkirk.  The busy clergyman also earned his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1901.  The focus of his study was comparative eschatology.  His dissertation was La vie future d’apres le Mazdeisme, about Persian religion.

Soderblom combined support for foreign missions with advocacy for studies in comparative religion.  He was a Christian, of course–a Lutheran, to be specific–and he thought that more people should convert to Christianity.  Our saint also affirmed the proposition that missionaries should understand and not destroy the cultures in which they worked.

This point might seem obvious to you, O reader, but, as many people who train missionaries know well, a host of missionaries (in successive generations) destroyed cultures and functioned as more effective agents of earthly principalities than of the Kingdom of God for centuries.  Thus they harmed the cause for which they professed to labor.

Soderblom, an expert in Oriental religions, became a professor of theology at the University of Uppsala in 1901.  In Gudstrons uppkomst (1914) our saint argued that the fundamental concept of religion is the idea of the holy, not the concept of God.  For Soderblom, a pacifist, religion was properly a means of making peace.  Our saint, a professor at Uppsala until 1914, taught in Leipzig, Germany, in 1912-1914.  Then he received a major promotion.

From 1914 to his death in 1931 Soderblom served as the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of the Church of Sweden.  His appointment proved controversial for more than one reason.  For years our saint had to contend with allegations of heresy.  They continued to follow him.  Furthermore, Soderblom was not a bishop prior to becoming archbishop.  That was not unprecedented in Christian history, but, as a matter of practice, most archbishops have been bishops first.  Certain Swedish bishops thought that they were more qualified than Soderblom.  Our saint performed his duties ably and continued his studies, including with regard to the original teaching of Martin Luther, as opposed to subsequent developments in Lutheran theology (such as Pietism).

Soderblom was also an ardent ecumenist.  He had a great interest in liturgy and in burgeoning liturgical renewal in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism.  He also favored Christian unity, but not as any cost.  Soderblom coined the term “evangelical Catholicism,” meaning, in his words:

It would be ungodly to sacrifice anything essential in our faith and our divine heritage for the cause of unity.

The author of Christian Fellowship (1923) emphasized Christian unity as a method for working toward global peace.  He organized the first World Council on Life and Work in 1925, inviting leaders of Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican/Episcopal churches to attend.  This gathering began the process that culminated in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948.  For his ecumenical work Soderblom, who had officiated at the state funeral of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930.

In 1931 the ailing Soderblom delivered the Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The published version of these lectures was The Living God:  Basal Forms of Personal Religion (1933).  Our saint died at Uppsala on July 12, 1931.  He was 65 years old.

The article on Soderblom in the 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica concluded:

A saintly man, a scholar, and a great ecclesiastical statesman, he had a remarkable personal influence on those who knew him.

–Volume 20, page 825

His influence continues to this day.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR; AND BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, A.K.A. DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

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Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and work of Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala,

who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians.

Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of your Church in life and worship,

for the glory of your Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Kings 22:3-13

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

John 13:31-35

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 159

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Feast of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden (July 23)   Leave a comment

Vadstena Abbey Church

Above:  Vadstena Parish Church

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN (CIRCA 1303-JULY 23, 1373)

Founder of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Brigitta Birgensdotter, Saint Birgitta of Sweden, and Saint Birgit of Sweden

mother of

SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN (1331-MARCH 24, 1381)

Superior of the Order of the Most Holy Savior

Also known as Catherine Vastanesis and Saint Catherine of Vadstena

Her feast transferred from March 22

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St. Bridget of Sweden has at least two feast days.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) observe her feast on July 23.  The Roman Catholic Church, however, celebrates her legacy on October 8.  I have added St. Catherine of Sweden to this commemoration as a practical matter.  Furthermore, this is my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, so this is my decision.

St. Bridget of Sweden (circa 1303-1373), a mystic, came from a prominent family.  According to one tradition, her date of birth was June 14, 1303.  Her father was Birger Persson, governor of Uppland.  At the age of 10 years ours saint reported receiving a vision of Christ crucified.  For the rest of her life St. Bridget made the Passion of Jesus the center of her spiritual devotion.  In 1316, when our saint was 13 years old, she married Ulf Gudmarsson, governor of Nericia.  The couple had eight children, one of which was St. Catherine of Sweden (1331-1381).  In 1342 the couple made the pilgrimage to Santo Domingo de Compostella.  Gudmarsson died at the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra in 1344.

Later that year the widow, already renowned for her saintliness and charitable works, became a Franciscan nun.  The frequency of St. Bridget’s visions increased during this period of time.  She dictated her Revelations (published in 1492) to the prior, Peter Olafsson, who translated them into Latin.  Among these visions was a command to found a new religious order.  This was the prompt for the creation of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Brigittines), at Vadstena, Sweden, in 1346.  The order (still extant) spread across Europe, from Scandinavia to Italy and Portugal and Spain to Russia.  The Brigittines used to have double monasteries, with nuns living one side, monks residing on the other, and both groups sharing the chapel.  The Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution reduced the number of Brigittine institutions.

In 1349 Sts. Bridget and Catherine made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  St. Catherine, educated at a convent, had, at age 12 or 13, married Egard van Kyren, a German nobleman.  They had a white, or chaste, marriage.  Egard died while his wife was away on pilgrimage in 1349.  She spent most of the rest of her life refusing the advances of suitors.

In 1350, during the time do the Black Death, which killed at least two-fifths of the population of Europe in less than five years, St. Catherine, an ascetic like her mother, traveled to Rome with Birger (her brother), St. Bridget, and a small party.  They sought Papal approval of their order.  That approval was forthcoming 20 years later.  The building of the mother house at Vadstena started the following year.  St. Bridget lived in Rome for the rest of her life, her faithful daughter by her side.  The two women made pilgrimages to the Holy Land (one together in 1372) and collaborated in providing shelter to homeless people.

Papal Palace, Avignon, France

Above:  The Papal Palace at Avignon, France, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-05243

St. Bridget also opposed ecclesiastical corruption.  Amid the scandal of the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377), with the Papal headquarters transferred to Avignon, under the influence of the French monarchy, St. Bridget favored the return of the Papacy to Rome.  She had lauded the election of Pope Innocent VI (reigned 1352-1362), but turned against him after he ordered the imprisonment of some Spiritual Franciscans and the burning at the stake of others.  St. Bridget accused the Supreme Pontiff of being a persecutor of faithful Christians.  She also predicted the early death of Pope Urban V (1362-1370) and cautioned him not to return to Avignon.  The Pope had returned to Rome while leaving a bureaucracy in Avignon.  He returned to Avignon on September 27, 1370.  An illness claimed his life on December 19.

St. Bridget died at Rome on July 23, 1373, with St. Catherine by her side.  The daughter succeeded her mother as superior of the order and returned to Sweden, taking St. Bridget’s corpse with her.

Pope Boniface IX (reigned 1389-1404) canonized St. Bridget in 1391.  She has become one of the patron saints of Europe.

St. Catherine of Sweden, who wrote Consolation of the Soul, a devotional work, eventually returned to Rome, where she lived for a few years.  Among her close friends was St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who also advocated for the return of the Papacy to Rome.  St. Bridget’s daughter died at Vadstena on March 24, 1381.

The canonization of St. Catherine of Sweden was informal, with Pope Innocent VIII (reigned 1484-1492) supporting her veneration in 1484.  Formal canonization proved to be impossible, for that process required the documentation of miracles.  The Protestant Reformation prevented that from proceeding.

Today many people invoke St. Catherine of Sweden against abortion and miscarriage.

As I have written in various weblog posts, faith should be something families nurture.  The family of Sts. Bridget and Catherine of Sweden modeled that principle well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Saints Bridget and Catherine of Sweden,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

and the Holy Spirit, one God, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Luther D. Reed (April 3)   2 comments

Lutheran Books February 13, 2016

Above:  Some of Luther Reed’s Major Works and Immediate Successors Thereto

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor, February 13, 2016

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LUTHER DOTTERER REED (MARCH 21, 1873-APRIL 3, 1972)

U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist

Luther Dotterer Reed was an influential Lutheran liturgist in the United States.  He was chiefly responsible for the creation of the Common Service Book (1917) and the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), two of the major Lutheran service-books of the twentieth century.

Reed was a son of the Church.  He entered the world at North Wales, Pennsylvania, on March 21, 1873.  His parents were Annie Linley Reed and Ezra L. Reed, a Lutheran minister of the old Ministerium of Pennsylvania and its umbrella organization, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  From his father our saint learned much, including music and the Mercersburg Theology (high church Calvinism) of the Reformed Church in the United States (1793-1934).  Reed came under the direct influence of the Mercersburg Theology at his father’s alma mater, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1892.  Next our saint matriculated at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hereafter LTS Mt. Airy), from which he graduated in 1895.

Reed was a parish minister for just a few years.  Upon graduating from LTS Mt. Airy he entered the liturgical boondocks of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.  Western Pennsylvania was an unlikely place for a Lutheran minister with a strong liturgical bent.  In 1895 our saint became the pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allegheny, across the river from Pittsburgh.  As Reed described the facility, it was a chapel with a central pulpit and a lunch table for an altar.  Traditionally the pastor wore street clothes to church on Sundays.  In 1903, when our saint left for his next posting, there was a choir (which he had directed), he wore a Geneva robe to church on Sundays, and the use of vestments and paraments had begun.  Reed studied at the University of Leipzig in 1902.  He served as pastor in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, briefly before returning to his alma mater, LTS Mt. Airy, in 1906.  There he remained in one capacity or another until 1950.

Luther D. Reed

Above:  An Item in the Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly Report, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, May 24, 1905, Page 2

Accessed via newspapers.com

Reed worked beyond the parish and seminary levels, frequently in the cause of liturgical renewal.  He understood worship as occupying the center of Christian life.  The beauty of worship matters, he insisted, for it can inspire one to commit good works–lead one into the world.  From 1898 to 1906 our saint led the Lutheran Liturgical Association, the goal of which was to convince U.S. Lutherans to accept the Common Service (1888) as something simple yet dignified and Lutheran yet catholic.  Reed edited the Memoirs of the Lutheran Liturgical Association (1906).  From 1907 to 1936 he served as the President of the Church Music and Liturgical Art Society.  And, from 1930 to 1940, he was the President of the Associated Bureaus of Church Architecture of the United States and Canada, devoted to encouraging architecture suitable for proper liturgy.

Reed married Catharine S. Ashbridge (1878-1942) in 1906.  They remained married until by her death they did part.

Book Dedication

Above:  The Dedication to The Lutheran Liturgy (1947)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In 1906 Reed went to work at LTS Mt. Airy, where he would have preferred to remain since his graduation 11 years earlier.  Until 1950 he served as the Director of the Krauth Memorial Library.  From 1911 to 1945 our saint was Professor of Liturgics and Church Art.  He was the first such professor at any Protestant theological seminary in North America.  And, from 1938 to 1945 Reed was also the president of the seminary.  If that were not enough, the served as the Archivist of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania from 1909 to 1939, and, starting in 1919, of the new United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), which he had helped to form via merger.

Reed served as the chairman of the joint commissions that created the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) and its successor, the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He also wrote two editions (1947 and 1959) of The Lutheran Liturgy, both classic works of Christian liturgical history and commentary on the then-current Lutheran services.  [Aside:  The best way to enjoy Reed’s depth of knowledge in liturgy is to read these two books.]  Reed favored restoring the Eucharistic canon, or prayer of thanksgiving, which Martin Luther had excised in the 1500s.  He included a proposed text for one on pages 336 and 337 of the first edition (1947) of The Lutheran Liturgy.  Variations on that canon graced the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), the Worship Supplement (1969), the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006).  Reed’s restoration of the Eucharistic canon took hold in North American Lutheranism beyond the lineages of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).  In 2008, for example, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) added an original Eucharistic canon in Christian Worship:  Supplement.  Other conservative Lutheran denominations have not restored the canon, however.

Reed, who received honorary degrees (including a Doctor of Divinity degree from Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, in 1912), was a gentle, kind, unassuming, and gracious gentleman.  Although our saint was not physically imposing he was intellectually masterful.  He wrote and contributed to volumes, mostly related to liturgics:

  1. The Psalter and Canticles; Pointed for Chanting to the Gregorian Psalm Tunes; with a Plain Song Setting for the Order of Matins and Vespers, Accompanying Harmonies, and Tables of Proper Psalms; for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1897);
  2. The Choral Service Book; Containing the Authentic Plain Song Intonations and Responses for the Order of Morning Service, the Order of Matins and Vespers, the Litany and the Suffrages of the Common Service for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations; with Accompanying Harmonies for Organ (1901);
  3. The Responsories:  Musical Setting (1914);
  4. Luther and Congregational Song (1947);
  5. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America (1947);
  6. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America (1959);
  7. Worship:  A Corporate Devotion (1959); and
  8. The Mind of the Church (1962).

Reed wrote a hymn and at least two hymn tunes also.  The hymn was “O God of Wondrous Grace and Glory” and the accompanying original tune was MOUNT AIRY.  He also composed the tune SURSUM CORDA.

Reed pondered what might and should follow the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He favored the inclusion of a provision for the procession of the bread and wine to the altar at the end of the offering.  This development became reality in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

Our saint died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 3, 1972.  He was 99 years old.  The  process of forging the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) was well underway.

Reed’s liturgical legacy thrives, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF CARRHAE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS, MISSIONARIES TO THE SLAVS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN MICHAEL ALTENBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR, COMPOSER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VICTOR OLOF PETERSEN, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN HYMN TRANSLATOR

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

thank you for those (especially Luther Dotterer Reed)

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 Jiri Tranovsky (May 29)   1 comment

Religions in Central Europe 1618

Above:  Religions in Central Europe, 1618

Image in the Public Domain

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JIRI TRANOVSKY (APRIL 9, 1592-MAY 29, 1637)

Luther of the Slavs and Father of Slovak Hymnody

Also known as Juraj Tranovsky, Jerzy Trzanowski, Georgios Tranoscius, and George Tranoscius

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Jiri Tranovsky comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the service book-hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

Tranovsky was ethnically Polish.  The native of Teschen, Silesia (now Cieszyn, Poland), entered the world on April 9, 1592.  He studied at Guben (now in Germany) and, from 1605 to 1607, at Kolberg (now Kolobrzeg, Poland) then, starting in 1607, at the University of Wittenberg, where he began to write poetry in Latin and Czech.  He traveled to Bohemia and Silesia in 1612.  Then our saint taught at St. Nicholas Gymnasium, Prague, before serving as rector of a school in Holesov, Moravia (now in the Czech Republic), from 1613 to 1615.  In 1615 and 1616 Tranovsky taught in the school at Mezirici (now in the Czech Republic), where he also led the local singing society.

Tranovsky was a Lutheran minister.  Following his ordination at Mezirici in 1616 he served in that town until 1621.  The turmoil of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the official religious intolerance of King Ferdinand II of Bohemia and Hungary (reigned 1617-1637; Holy Roman Emperor, 1619-1637), persecutor of Protestantism, forced Tranovsky and his congregation into exile in 1621.  1624 was a terrible year for the flock and its shepherd.  Wartime conditions contributed to a plague, so Tranovsky had to bury three of his children and half of his congregation.  Later that year authorities imprisoned our saint.  They exiled him to Silesia the following year.  There he became the court preacher to the castle in Bielitz (now Bielsko, Poland).  Wartime conditions forced Tranovsky to move again in 1628, so he became the court preacher to Orava Castle (now in Oravsky Podzamok, Slovakia).  Our saint’s health was failing.

Tranovsky translated and wrote texts.  In 1620 he translated the Augsburg Confession into Czech.  Eight years later he was hard at work on Odarum Sacrarum sive Hymnorum (1629), a hymnal containing 150 Latin texts for congregational singing.  Tranovsky included several original tunes.  From 1631 to his death in 1637 he was the senior pastor at Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas, Upper Hungary (now Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia), where he wrote his masterpieces.  Phiala Odoromentorum (A Vial of Sweet Incense, 1635), was a prayer book.  The Cithara Sanctorum (Harp of the Saints, 1636), also known as the Transocius, was a hymnal containing 414 hymns, 150 of which were his.  This volume became the basis of Czech and Slovak Lutheran hymnody.

Tranovsky suspected that he would die before the age of 50 years.  He was correct, for he died on May 29, 1637, aged 45 years.

Most of Tranovsky’s hymns do not exist in any English-language translation.  I have found a few, however, and added two–“Come, Rejoicing, Praises Voicing” and “Christ the Lord to Us is Born, Hallelujah“–to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  I have found several others in translations by Jaroslav Jan Vajda (1919-2008) in current Lutheran hymnals:

  1. “Let Our Gladness Banish Sadness” (1960), in the Lutheran Service Book (2006);
  2. “Your Heart, O God, is Grieved” (1970), in Hymnal Supplement 98 (1998), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006); and
  3. “Make Songs of Joy to Christ, Our Head” (1978), in the Lutheran Service Book (2006).

I have also found a Vajda translation of an anonymous text from the Tranoscius (1636) in slightly older Lutheran hymnals.  The Worship Supplement (1969) and the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) contain “God, My Lord, My Strength, My Place of Hiding” (1969).

I wonder what treasures among Tranovsky’s hymnody remain untranslated into English.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Jiri Tranovsky and others, who have translated 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 Mikael Agricola (April 10)   Leave a comment

Sweden 1550

Above:  Map of Sweden and Its Environs, 1550

Image in the Public Domain

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MIKAEL AGRICOLA (CIRCA 1507-APRIL 9, 1557)

Finnish Lutheran Liturgist, Bishop of Turku, and “Father of the Finnish Literary Language”

Also known as Mikael Olavinpoika

Mikael Agricola was a prominent figure in Finnish religion and culture.

Our saint entered the world at Torsby, Pernaja, Finland, Sweden, circa 1507, as Mikael Olavinpoika.  His father, Olof Simonsson, was a farmer.  Our saint studied at the Latin school at Vyborg, where he took the surname Agricola, meaning “farmer.”  At Vyborg Agricola encountered ideas of Christian Humanism and the Protestant Reformation.

For a time Agricola was a Roman Catholic priest, although not the most orthodox one, by the standards of the time.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1528, became the secretary to Martinus Skyette, the Bishop of Turku.  In 1536 Skyette sent Agricola to study in Wittenberg, the headquarters of Martin Luther.  Like his contemporary Olavus Petri before him, Agricola lived in Luther’s home for a few years.  Agricola also learned from Luther as well as Philipp Melancthon and Johannes Bugenhagen.  In 1539 our saint returned to Turku, where he began to serve as the canon of the cathedral chapter and the head of the Latin school.  Between 1537 and 1548 he translated the New Testament into Finnish.  He also wrote the ABC-Kiria, based on the catechism by Luther and Melancthon, between 1537 and 1543.  This signal volume was the first work published in the Finnish language.

In 1540 King Gustav I Vasa of Sweden (reigned 1523-1560), who had favored Lutheranism for years, made that version of Christianity mandatory.  Even before then there seemed to have been some fluidity on the Lutheran-Roman Catholic spectrum in the Kingdom of Sweden, which included Finland.  Furthermore, that fluidity seemed to continue after the royal decree of 1540, for my sources noted that Agricola became the first Lutheran Bishop of Turku in 1550 (a decade after the royal decree) without Papal consent.

Agricola worked in the Finnish language in Swedish-controlled Finland.  He published a prayer book in 1540.  Aside from that volume and the others I have mentioned already, Agricola’s catalogue of published works included the Psalter and other portions of the Old Testament, the order of the Mass (minus the Eucharistic canon), translations of other liturgies, and translations of foreign hymns.

Agricola was a family man.  Prior to his elevation to the episcopate he had married Birgitta Olofsdotter.  The couple had one child, a son, Kristian Agricola, born on December 11, 1550.  He died in 1586.

Our saint died at Nkyrka, Finland, Sweden, on April 19, 1557, after returning from a diplomatic mission to Russia.

Agricola had a Christ-centered theology.  He understood the Christian pilgrimage as a journey of humility, temptation, and trial.  Sin, he said, meant that people have become turned in on themselves and fundamentally opposed to God.  The main idea in Agricola’s theology was the union of human humility in sinfulness and a living hope for divine grace in Christ.

Agricola’s name came to my attention via Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the service book-hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), part of whose heritage includes Finnish Lutheranism in the form of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Suomi Synod) (1890-1962).  Their main counterparts, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) and The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), also have some Finnish Lutheran heritage in the form of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran National Church/National Evangelical Lutheran Church (1898-1963), but the Lutheran Service Book (2006), lacks any commemoration of Agricola’s life.  I wonder why that is so, for Agricola seems like a person a denomination with Finnish Lutheran ancestry should commemorate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENTIGERN (MUNGO), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW

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

thank you for those (especially Mikael Agricola)

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 Olavus and Laurentius Petri (April 19)   2 comments

Sweden 1550

Above:  Map of Sweden and Its Environs, 1550

Image in the Public Domain

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OLAVUS PETRI (JANUARY 6, 1493-APRIL 19, 1552)

Swedish Lutheran Theologian, Historian, Liturgist, Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, Dramatist, Bible Translator, and “Father of Swedish Literature”

Also known as Olaus Petri, Olof Persson, and Olof Pettersson

brother of

LAURENTIUS PETRI (1499-OCTOBER 27, 1573)

Swedish Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala, Bible Translator, and “Father of Swedish Hymnody”

Also known as Lars Persson

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The Great Man (and Woman) Theory is my favorite approach to history.  This Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is, in fact, an exercise in the study of great men and women, famous, obscure, and between those two poles.  The Petri brothers, whose lives and labors overlapped, belong on such a catalogue of holy people.  Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the service book-hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), lists the Petris as “renewers of the church.”  I agree with that assessment while concluding that the pithy label is inadequate.

Olof and Lars Persson were natives of Orebro, Sweden, and sons of a blacksmith.  Our saints learned to, among other things, read and write from Carmelite monks and became monks themselves.  The order sent young Olof, known in Latin as Olavus (or Olaus) Petri, to study at Wittenberg, Germany, in 1516.  There he lived in the home of Martin Luther, one of his professors.  Both Petri brothers studied in that city, where they learned from Luther as well as Philipp Melancthon.  The brothers returned to Sweden in 1518, with their heads full of Lutheran theology.

At the time Sweden was (A) officially Roman Catholic and (B) part of the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Norway.  (Interdynastic marriages had led to the union of the three crowns in 1389.)  The union of Denmark and Norway proved to be durable, ending only in 1814, due to the politics of the Napoleonic Wars.  The political situation in Sweden, which included Finland at the time, was different, however.  Separation from Denmark and Norway was final in 1523, with the coronation of Gustav I Vasa (reigned 1523-1560) as the King of Sweden after a war of liberation.

Also active in the war of liberation was Laurentius Andreae, also known as Lars Andersson (circa 1470-1552), who aided Gustav Vasa during the war of liberation then crowned him in 1523.  Andreae had studied in Skara and Uppsala before pursuing a Master’s degree at Rostock, Germany, and studying canon law in Rome.  By 1520 he had become the archdeacon of the Diocese of Strangnas.  On November 8 of that year King Christian II of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (reigned 1513-1523) ordered the execution of about 100 people in Stockholm.  Among the victims of the Stockholm Bloodbath, as it went down in history, was Bishop Mattias, Andreae’s superior.  Andreae  administrator of the diocese after that event.  He, the political engineer of the Swedish Reformation, served as the Vasa’s secretary (chief advisor) and a member of the council of state.

Andreae and the Petri brothers were leaders of the Swedish Reformation.  The Petris preached that Reformation, converting most of the population.  Olavus, whom Bishop Mattias had ordained to the diaconate, served as the secretary of the Stockholm city council for a time.  From 1531 to 1539 he was the chancellor of the realm, until Vasa removed him from that post.  Olavus had a strong personality and a mind of his own.  These were hazardous characteristics in the presence of Vasa, who charged Olavus and Andreae with treason and sentenced them to death in 1540.  The monarch pardoned and fined them two years later, but their political careers were over.  These two men locked horns with Vasa, who had favored Lutheranism for years but got around to making it mandatory in 1540.  They also liked Lutheranism yet opposed the monarch’s methods of religious reform.

Olavus, a priest since 1539, was the foremost theologian in Sweden.  He spent his final years (1542-1552) as pastor of the Storkyrkan (Great Church) of Stockholm and the first Lutheran minister in the city.

Olavus was the main author of the Swedish Reformation, with some help from his brother Laurentius and from Laurentius Andreae.  The three men collaborated on the project to translate the Bible into Swedish (New Testament, 1526; Old Testament, 1541).  Olavus prepared and published the first Swedish hymnal, Swedish Hymns and Songs (1526), containing probably 8 to 12 hymns.  He revised and expanded the hymnal in 1530 and 1536, increasing its contents to 46 hymns and an appendix containing songs about the Antichrist, in 1536.  Olavus’s books of sermons (1528 and 1530) proved influential in the Lutheran evangelization of Sweden also.

Olavus was an influential liturgist.  He published the first Swedish service book in 1529.  His was a conservative revision, retaining many Roman Catholic customs yet dropping, for example, the blessing from salt at baptism and omitting the rites for blessing food and candles.  He revised the service book in 1533 and 1537.  His brother Laurentius revised it in 1541, 1548, and 1557.  In 1531 Olavus published the Swedish-language order of the Mass, creating a participatory service for the congregation (a break with tradition) and rewriting the Eucharistic canon to remove any reference to the Mass as a sacrifice (another break with tradition).  It was appropriate that Olavus worked on that project, for the day of his wedding (February 11, 1525) was probably the occasion of the first vernacular Mass in Sweden.

[Aside:  I found a detailed explanation of Olavus’s Eucharistic theology and the Petris’ liturgical revisions in Frank C. Senn, Christian Liturgy:  Catholic and Evangelical (Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 1997), pages 403-418 and 467-470.  I refer you, O reader, to that text.]

Olavus was the “Father of Swedish Literature.”  Prior to 1526 fewer than ten published titles in the Swedish language existed.  Aside from the books I have written of already, Olavus’s catalogue of Swedish-language publications included Tobiae comedia (the first drama in Swedish) and the influential Chronicle, a work of Swedish history.  He also composed and translated hymns.  I have found a few of his hymns in English translations and added most of those to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  There was one hymn I found online but not in any of my old hymnals, so I have provided a link to “Thou, Jesus Christ, Didst Man Become.”

Laurentius Petri was able to maintain a better relationship with Vasa than his brother Olavus did, and for a longer period of time.  Laurentius, formerly professor of theology at the University of Uppsala, became the first Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala in 1531.  He died in office on October 27, 1573.  Laurentius proved crucial in maintaining Apostolic Succession in Sweden, for Vasa preferred to govern The Church of Sweden via superintendents while leaving bishoprics vacant.  Laurentius was able, eventually, via the church order of 1571, to help separate the Church from royal control.

Although Olavus edited the first three Swedish hymnals (1526, 1530, 1536), Laurentius became the “Father of Swedish Hymnody.”  He composed hymns, none of which I have found in English translations.  Laurentius also edited four editions (1543, 1549, 1567, and 1572) of The Swedish Psalm Book.

The Petri brothers were giants in The Church of Sweden.  Their influence has never ceased to be evident in Swedish Lutheranism, from hymns to living legacies in theological thought and liturgical practice.  They were indeed great men.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENTIGERN (MUNGO), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW

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

thank you for those (especially Olavus Petri and Laurentius Petri)

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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