Archive for the ‘Frank C. Senn’ Tag

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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Feast of Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin (October 20)   4 comments

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Above:  Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1921

J247993–U.S. Copyright Office

Image Source = Library of Congress

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PHILIP SCHAFF (JANUARY 1, 1819-OCTOBER 20, 1893)

and

JOHN WILLIAMSON NEVIN (FEBRUARY 20, 1803-JUNE 6, 1886)

U.S. German Reformed Historians, Theologians, and Liturgists

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Cardinal John Henry Newman, a famous convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, said that to understand church history is to cease to be a Protestant.  I understand why Cardinal Newman thought that, given his spiritual biography and the widespread neglect of Christian history among many Protestants during his lifetime, but that statement did not reflect the reality of Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin, who called the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A. (the Reformed Church in the United States from 1863 to 1934) away from its historical amnesia and indifference, Puritanism, Pietism, Revivalism, and Zwinglianism.  These men worked to take their denomination back to its roots in the Protestant Reformation, recovering its Reformed Eucharistic and liturgical heritage while renouncing anti-Roman Catholicism.

Philip Schaff, born on January 1, 1819, at Chur, Switzerland, attended the Universities of Tubingen, Halle, and Berlin.  He immigrated to the United States in 1843 to teach at the German Reformed Seminary at Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  He, a church historian, championed the subject at a time when many U.S. Evangelicals had little use for it.  Nevertheless, Schaff argued that Protestantism stood in continuity with Medieval Roman Catholicism, not Pauline Christianity.  He advocated taking the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A. back to the liturgical and Eucharistic theology of John Calvin.  In contrast, the dominant influences in the denomination at the time were Puritanism, Pietism, Revivalism, and Zwinglianism, the latter with its memorial meal theology of the Lord’s Supper.  For his trouble Schaff faced a heresy trial in 1845.  The tribunal dismissed all charges unanimously.

Schaff’s theological partner in the Mercersburg Theology was John Williamson Nevin, born on February 20, 1803, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  Nevin, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, was originally a Presbyterian.  He, graduated from Union College in 1821 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1828, received his license to preach in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. that year.  From 1830 to 1840 he taught Biblical literature at the former Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  Then Nevin, dissatisfied with the Puritanical influences in the Presbyterian Church, left for the German Reformed Church and became a Professor of Theology at the Mercersburg seminary (1840-1851) and President of the former Marshall College (1841-1853).

A mighty dragon Schaff and Nevin had to combat as part of their effort to recover historical awareness and renew liturgical life in the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A. was anti-Roman Catholicism.  As Frank C. Senn wrote:

In America, Protestant liturgical recovery in the nineteenth century not only went up against Puritanism, Pietism, and Revivalism, but also against that cultural-political expression of anti-Catholic bigotry known as “Know-Nothingism.”

Christian Liturgy:  Catholic and Evangelical (Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 1997), page 581

There was, in the middle of the 1800s, a political party known variously as the Native American Party, American Republican Party, or simply the American Party, but informally as the “Know-Nothing Party,” devoted to xenophobia and opposition to Roman Catholicism, notably Roman Catholic immigrants.  The list of people they liked consisted of other bigoted Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

Our saints sought to revive not only the Continental European Reformed liturgical tradition (that of service books) in the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A., but the Calvinistic Eucharistic theology of the non-localized mystical presence of Christ in the sacrament.  Toward that end Nevin wrote The Mystical Presence:  A Vindication of the Calvinistic Doctrine of the Eucharist (1846).  Nevin, who considered the Lord’s Supper to be “the very heart of the whole Christian worship,” was, like Schaff, more traditional than those who considered them heretics and innovators.  Nevin and Schaff were closer to the Reformed traditions than were Pietists, Revivalists, and Puritans.

Ironically, as late as 1861, Schaff, who was busy resisting anti-Roman Catholic bigotry, had yet to slay racism inside himself.  That year he wrote Slavery and the Bible, the contents of which were–and remain–indefensible.  He was ahead of his time in some ways yet sadly of it in others.  I include this detail for the sake of thoroughness and honesty.

Schaff and Nevin belonged to the committee which produced A Liturgy:  or, Order of Christian Worship (1857), for provisional use in the German Reformed Church in the U.S.A.  In 1866 it became official as An Order of Worship for the Reformed Church.  Nevin wrote the Vindication of of the Revised Liturgy, Historical and Theological (1867) to defend against charges of “Romanizing tendencies”  Such allegations prompted the (Dutch) Reformed Church in America to terminate (for a time) relations with the German Reformed Church/Reformed Church in the United States in the late 180os.

Schaff’s career from 1863 to 1893 was as follows:

  1. Chairman of the Sabbath Committee, New York City, 1863-1870;
  2. Chair of Christian Encyclopedia and Symbolism, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, 1870-1873;
  3. Professor of Sacred Literature, Union Theological Seminary, 1874-1887; and
  4. Professor of Church History, Union Theological Seminary, 1887-1893.

During his career Schaff added many other impressive accomplishments to this already mostly auspicious list.  A partial enumeration follows:

  1. He edited the twenty-five volumes of the English-language translation of Johann Peter Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (1865-1880), available at archive.org.
  2. Schaff published a hymnal, Christ in Song:  Songs of Immanuel (1869) and co-edited a second hymnal, Hymns and Songs of Praise for Public and Social Worship (1874).
  3. He edited German and Latin hymns into English.  Among these was “O Bread of Life from Heaven.”
  4. Schaff edited Volumes I, II, and III of The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1882-1884).
  5. He wrote the eight-volume History of the Christian Church (1882-1892).  His son, Presbyterian minister and scholar David Schley Schaff (1852-1941), revised those volumes and added two more.
  6. Schaff published Volumes I, II, and III of The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes (1877).
  7. He published the fourteen volumes of A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (1886-1890), available at archive.org.
  8. Schaff founded the American Society of Church History in 1884.
  9. He served as President of the American Revision Committee, thereby contributing to the American Standard Version of the Bible (1901), from which other translations have sprung directly and indirectly.  These include the Revised Standard Version (1946/1952), its 1971 revision, its two Catholic editions (1965 and 2002), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), its Roman Catholic edition (1993), the New American Standard Bible (1971/1977) and its updated edition (1995), the Living Bible (1969/1971), its Roman Catholic edition (1972), the New Living Translation (1996/2004), and the English Standard Version (2001).

Schaff, who died at New York City on October 20, 1893, worked for church unity.  His Reformed theology of ecumenism led him to oppose both Papal Infallibility and the Anglican/Episcopalian Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.  The inclusion of Apostolic Succession in the latter troubled him.  He was correct, however, that Papal Infallibility functions as an obstacle to Christian unity.

Schaff left an impressive literary and scholarly legacy.  Among its other components were:

  1. The Principle of Protestantism as Related to the Present State of the Church (1845);
  2. The Life and Labors of St. Augustine:  A Historical Sketch (1854);
  3. The Oldest Manual Called the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles:  The Didache and Kindred Documents in the Original (1855);
  4. The Moral Character of Christ; or the Perfection of Christ’s Humanity, a Proof of His Divinity (1861);
  5. A Catechism for Sunday Schools and Families in Fifty-Two Lessons, with Proof-Texts and Notes (1862; revised in 1880);
  6. The Harmony of the Reformed Confessions as Related to the Present State of Evangelical Theology (1877);
  7. Through Bible Lands:  Notes on Travel in Egypt, the Desert, and Palestine (1878);
  8. A Dictionary of the Bible (First Edition, 1880; Second Edition, 1881; Third Edition, 1885, Fourth Edition, 1887);
  9. A Library of Religious Poetry (1881);
  10. A Companion to the Greek New Testament and the English Version (1883);
  11. Church and State in the United States, or the American Idea of Religious Liberty and Its Practical Effects, with Official Documents (1888);
  12. The Progress of Religion as Shown in the History of Toleration Acts (1889); and
  13. The Renaissance:  The Revival of Learning and Art in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1891).

Nevin taught history at the merged Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1861 to 1866 then served as the President for a decade.  He died at Lancaster on June 6, 1886.  He also left a written legacy, which included, apart from The Mystical Presence (1846), the 1857/1866 German Reformed Liturgy, and the Vindication (1867) thereof, the following:

  1. A Summary of Biblical Antiquities:  Compiled for the Use of Sunday-School Teachers, and for the Benefit of Families, Volumes I and II (1829);
  2. The Scourge of God (1832);
  3. The Anxious Bench (First Edition, 1843; Second Edition, 1844); in German here;
  4. History and Genius of the Heidelberg Catechism (1847);
  5. A Summary of Biblical Antiquities; for the Use of Schools, Bible-Classes, and Families (1849);
  6. Man’s True Destiny (1853); and
  7. Christian Hymnology (1856);
  8. Life and Character of Frederick Augustus Rauch, First President of Marshall College (1859).

Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin were giants in the Church.  Those of us who pursue interests in ecclesiastical history and/or liturgy stand on their shoulders.  Certainly those from the Reformed tradition who encourage proper Eucharistic practice and better liturgy stand on their broad shoulders.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEASTS OF PHILIP EVANS AND JOHN LLOYD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE TEAGUE CASE, PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLAF II OF SWEDEN, KING AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SUSANNA WESLEY, MOTHER OF METHODISM

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Philip SchaffJohn Williamson Nevin, and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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