Archive for the ‘Jaroslav Jan Vajda’ Tag

Feast of Jaroslav Vajda (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  Jaroslav Vajda

Image Source = hymntime.com

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JAROSLAV JAN VAJDA (APRIL 28, 1919-MAY 10, 2008)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

Jaroslav Vajda was a hymn writer who, in his words, sought to

raise the level of wonder and appreciation of God’s awesome creation, justification, and sanctification.

–Quoted in Paul Westermeyer, With Tongues of Fire:  Profiles in 20th-Century Hymn Writing (St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1995), page 153

Vajda grew up in the old Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church (1902-1971), later renamed the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and , since 1971, the SELC District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.  Our saint, born in Lorain, Ohio, on April 28, 1919, was a son of a minister.  Vajda studied in Racine, Wisconsin; and East Chicago, Indiana; before attending Concordia Junior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Class of 1938); and Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (B.A., 1941; M.Div., 1944).  He interned at Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Central City, Pennsylvania.  Our saint was an intellectually active person interested in Slovak culture and language, as evidenced by his thesis, a history of Jiri Tranovsky‘s Cithara Sanctorum (1636), or Harp of the Saints, a hymnal containing 414 texts.  As a young man he had mastered the Slovak language, completing his first translation from Slovak at the age of 21 years.  He was also a talented poet in the English language.  Vadja began to compose poetry at the age of 18 years.  At that age, when he submitted some poems to The Cresset, a literary magazine of the Missouri Synod, he received positive and encouraging feedback.

Vajda was a minister and a married man.  In 1945 he married Louise Mastaglio of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the couple went on to have four children.  Our saint served on the parish, denominational, and ecumenical levels.  The congregations he served were:

  1. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Cranesville, Pennsylvania (1945-1949), a bilingual Slovak-English congregation, as pastor;
  2. Our Blessed Savior Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Pennsylvania (1949-1953), as pastor;
  3. St. John’s Lutheran Church, Brackenridge, Pennsylvania (1953-1963), a bilingual Slovak-English congregation, as pastor; and
  4. St. Lucas Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Missouri (1963-1976), as assistant pastor.

Beyond the parish level Vadja edited The Lutheran Beacon, of the Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church, from 1959 to 1963; edited This Day, a family magazine of the Missouri Synod, from 1963 to 1971; served on the Missouri Synod’s Commission on Worship from 1960 to 1978; served on the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship from 1967 to 1978, and therefore helped to create the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978); served on the committee that created the Worship Supplement (1969); and edited and developed books for Concordia Publishing House from 1971 until 1986, when he retired.

Vajda translated hymns of Jiri Tranovsky (1592-1637), the Luther of the Slavs and the Father of Slovak Hymnody, from Slovak and composed many original hymns.  The oldest translation by our saint of a text from Tranovsky I have found dates to 1960.  Vajda, by his own accounts, wrote his first hymn in 1968, at the age of 49 years, and composed most of his texts after he retired, at the age of 67 years, in 1986.  Our saint’s contributions to hymnody were numerous and impressive, numbering 225.  (Aside:  Concordia Publishing House sells Sing Peace, Sing Gift of Peace:  The Comprehensive Hymnary of Jaroslav J. Vajda.)  Paul Westermeyer, in With Tongues of Fire (1995), listed 179 hymn titles alphabetically.  Not surprisingly, the greatest concentrations of Vajda’s hymns, apart from dedicated volumes, have been in Lutheran hymnals, given the confessional Lutheran theology in the texts.  My survey of hymnals and hymnal supplements of the main two Lutheran denominations in the United States has yielded the following counts of hymns by our saint:

  1. Worship Supplement (1969)–4,
  2. Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)–9,
  3. Lutheran Worship (1982)-5,
  4. With One Voice (1995)–3,
  5. Hymnal Supplement 98 (1998)–7,
  6. Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006)–6, and
  7. Lutheran Service Book (2006)–10.

Vajda, a longtime member of the Hymn Society of America, became a fellow of that organization in 1988.

Vajda, the recipient of many honorary doctorates, was a cultured man.  He studied Slovak Lutheran hymnody extensively.  He even wrote the article “Slovak Hymnody” for the excellent Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1981), a fine reference work and one of the best of the hymnal companion volumes.  Our saint also played the violin and translated works from Slovak into English.  Aside from hymns by Tranovksy, Vajda translated Bloody Sonnets (1950), Slovak Christmas (1960), Janko Kral (1972), An Anthology of Slovak Literature (1976), and an operatic libretto, Zuzanka Hraskovia (1978).  Original writings, aside from hymns, included They Followed the King (1963), Follow the King (1977), and Men and Women of the Bible:  45 Meditations on Biblical Heroes of the Faith (1996).

Vajda died, aged 89 years, at Webster Groves, Ohio, on May 10, 2008.

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

Jaroslav Jan Vajda and others, who have composed and 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 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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