Archive for the ‘Lutheran Worship (1982)’ Tag

Feast of Johann Cruger (April 8)   Leave a comment

 

Above:  Johann Cruger

Image in the Public Domain

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As a writer and editor of tunes this distinguished musician occupies a special niche in the hymnic hall of fame.

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

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Johann Cruger ranks among the greatest composers in the Lutheran Church.  He, born at Gross-Breesen, Brandenburg, on April 9, 1598, studied at Guben, Sorau, and Breslau before studying at the Jesuit school at Olmutz then the Poets’ School at Regensburg.  At Regensburg Cruer studied music under Paul Homberber, who had been a student of Giovanni Gabrieli.  Next our saint traveled in Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Moravia before settling in Berlin in 1615.  Then he worked as a private tutor until 1620, when he began to study music and theology at the University of Wittenberg.

Cruger settled at Berlin again in 1622, when he became the cantor (organist and choirmaster) at St. Nicholas Church and a teacher at the Gray Cloister.  Our saint held both posts for the rest of his life–about 40 years.  Cruger composed at least 122 chorale tunes, 18 of which remained in widespread use at the times of the publication of The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) and Lutheran Worship (1982).  In 1657 Paul Gerhardt became the deacon at St. Nicholas Church.  They became friends and Cruger set 21 texts by Gerhardt to music.

Cruger edited and published five important volumes:

  1. Neues vollkommliches Gesangbuch (1640), with 161 hymns;
  2. Praxis Pietatis Melica (first edition, 1644; forty-fourth edition, 1736); the twenty-third edition (1688) included 1114 hymns; the forty-third edition had 1316 hymns;
  3. Geistliche Kirchenmelodien (1649), with 161 hymns;
  4. Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen (1653), with 92 tunes and no texts; and
  5. Psalmodia Sacra (1657), with 319 texts; intended for Huguenot immigrants.

Cruger died at Berlin on February 23, 1662.  He was 63 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBALD OF OSTEVANT, SAINT RICTRUDIS OF MARCHIENNES, AND THEIR RELATIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT, AND SAINT MARY OF EDESSA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CACCIAFRONTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZGURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT

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

thank you for those (especially Johann Cruger)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Hans Peter Boerresen, and Paul Olaf Bodding (December 11)   Leave a comment

skrefsrud-statue-lillehammer

Above:  Statue of Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Lillehammer, Norway

Image in the Public Domain

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LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD (FEBRUARY 4, 1840-DECEMBER 11, 1910)

Norwegian Lutheran Missionary to the Santals

colleague of

HANS PETER BOERRSEN (NOVEMBER 29, 1825-SEPTEMBER 23, 1901)

Danish Lutheran Missionary to the Santals

then

PAUL OLAF BODDING (NOVEMBER 2, 1865-SEPTEMBER 25, 1938)

Norwegian Lutheran Missionary to the Santals

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The name of Lars Olsen Skrefsrud came to my attention via the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), which lists December 11 as his feast day.  For reasons I do not understand this feast has not carried over into the calendar in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006).  Neither have any Lutheran Worship (1982) and the Lutheran Service Book (2006), both of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, included this feast.  I have also noticed that the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a body with Norwegian immigrant roots, does not include this feast either.  The names of Hans Peter Boerresen and Paul Olaf Bodding came to my attention as I read and took notes regarding Skrefsrud.

These three saints were missionaries to the Santal tribe in northern India.  The Santals had been present on the Indian subcontinent prior to the arrival of the Aryans.  Skrefsrud, Boerresen, and Bodding worked among Santals, respected their culture, and helped to build a strong indigenous church.

Skrefsrud, born near Lillehammer, Norway, on February 4, 1840, took a winding path to his vocation.  He came from a poor family.  Although Skrefsrud dreamed of becoming a minister, circumstances pushed him into coppersmithing instead.  This did not satisfy him.  Skrefsrud reacted by drinking heavily.  He and some drinking buddies robbed a bank.  The 19-year-old Skrefsrud gave up drinking, delved into Christianity, mastered the German and English languages, and received a sentence of incarceration for four years; he served about half of it.  While in prison our saint received visits from one Anna Onsum, a young woman who believed in him and encouraged him in his spiritual journey.

Skrefsrud became a missionary.  He trained at the Gossmer Missionary Society, Berlin.  (Knowing German helped then.)  While in Berlin Skrefsrud lived austerely and attended services daily.  In 1863 the missionary society dispatched Skrefsrud to northern India.  Anna Onsum joined him there and married him the following year.  She arrived in the company of Catherine and Hans Peter Boerresen, the latter of whom the missionary society sent to work with Skrefsrud.  Boerresen, who was expert in raising funds, was also a minister and a civil engineer.

boerresen

Above:  Hans Peter Boerresen

Image in the Public Domain

For a few years Skrefsrud and Boerresen worked in conjunction with Baptist missionaries.  There were two sticking points:  (1) the theology of infant baptism and (2) the denial of permission for the two Lutheran missionaries to continue to work together.  So it was that, in 1867, Skrefsrud and Boerresen founded the Ebenezer Mission at Benegaria, from which they worked among indigenous peoples.  The following year they cofounded The Indian Home Mission to the Santals, the forerunner of today’s Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Boerresen returned to Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1877.  He died on September 23, 1901.

bodding

Above:  Paul Olaf Bodding

Image in the Public Domain

Another colleague of Skrefsrud was Paul Olaf Bodding (1865-1938), a scientist.  The native of Gjosik, Norway, was son of a bookseller.  The great missionary recruited the young Bodding in the family’s bookstore.  The rest was history.  He served in India from 1889 to 1933.  Although Skrefsrud had written A Grammar of the Santhal Language (1873), Bodding created an alphabet for the people, who lacked one previously.  Skrefsrud translated the Gospels into the new written language, but Bodding completed the process of translating the Bible into it.  Skrefsrud also wrote textbooks and a hymnal into the new written language.  Bodding preserved Santali folklore in writing via that script.  Folklore of the Santal Parganas (1909) depended upon his work.

Skrefsrud did much else to help the Santal people.  He also founded vocational and technical schools and appealed to British imperial officials to protect the Santals from other tribes.  He continued to labor in northern India for the rest of his life.

Bodding returned to Europe in 1933. The saint died at Odense, Denmark, on September 25, 1938.

The Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church continues to minister among indigenous people on the subcontinent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES EDWARD OAKLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN BEHM, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIBERT AND AICARDUS OF JUMIEGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

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God of grace and might, we praise you for your servants

Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Hans Peter Boerresen, and Paul Olaf Bodding,

to whom you gave gifts to make the good news known.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of your kingdom,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), page 37

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Feast of Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart (November 9)   Leave a comment

Fort, Coburg

Above:  The Fort, Coburg, Thuringia, Germany, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-01086

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JOHANN(ES) MATTHAUS MEYFART (NOVEMBER 9, 1590-JANUARY 26, 1642)

German Lutheran Educator and Devotional Writer

I grew up in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the 1980s and early 1990s.   The dominant form of piety in those churches was akin to that one found in neighboring Southern Baptist churches.  It was like that old joke that Methodists are Baptists who can read.  Then, in late 1991, I became an Episcopalian, for my inherent piety was closer to Roman Catholicism yet somewhat Protestant.  Five years later, shortly before the presidential election, I watched a dual biography of President Bill Clinton and Senator Robert Dole on public television.  The narrator described the nature of United Methodism in Kansas, prompting me to think that I preferred that to the character of United Methodism in rural southern Georgia.  A few years ago I started exploring Lutheranism via books, such as the Book of Concord and various service books-hymnals.  I have enjoyed this ongoing process, which has convinced me that German and Scandinavian hymnody is superior to the one inflicted upon me as a child.  Unfortunately, that inferior hymnody has been pursuing me even into The Episcopal Church during the last few years, prompting me sometimes to resort to speaking in two languages within one conversation, using French strategically.  On other occasions I have maintained a passive-aggressive silence instead.  But I digress, as much as I remain an unrepentant European classicist.

Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart (1590-1642) contributed to the treasures of Lutheran hymnody.  His father was a Lutheran pastor at Wahlwinkel, near Gotha, in the Holy Roman Empire.  Our saint’s mother was visiting her parents at Jena when she gave birth on November 9, 1590.  Meyfart studied at the Universities of Wittenberg and Jena (M.A., 1611; D.D. 1624).  His career was mainly an academic one.  He taught philosophy at Jena for a few years before moving to Coburg in 1616.  There he served as a professor at the gymnasium until becoming director in 1623.  At that school, as The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal (1942) informs me,

he had great moral power.

–Page 546

To state that differently, in the words of The Hymnal 1940 Companion (1949),

he exerted a remarkable influence on all his pupils.

–Page 504

Our saint’s tenure at Coburg ended due to his dissertation on church discipline, De Disciplina Ecclesiastica (1633).  Many of his colleagues complained to the government because they disagreed with the dissertation’s contents.

The future Duke Ernst I of Gotha came to Meyfart’s rescue, offering him a new position.  Our saint became a professor of theology at the University of Erfurt.  In 1634 he became the Rector of the University.  And, starting in 1636, Meyfart served as the pastor of the Prediger Church in town.  Controversy followed our saint, for another writing on the subject of church discipline caused problems for him at Erfurt.  These controversies affected Meyfart adversely.

Meyfart seemed drawn to controversies.  He wrote a text, Anti-Becanus, in the context of a debate with Martin Becanus (1563-1624), a Jesuit, regarding Socinianism.  Becanus condemned not only Socinianism but all Protestant theology.  He and Meyfart, therefore, had the denunciation of Socinianism in common.  Our saint, however, was a Lutheran, therefore in a position to argue against Becanus.

Socinianism is multi-faceted; here is a partial explanation:

  1. The Roman Catholic Church condemns Socinianism as a heresy.
  2. Socinianism teaches that Jesus was purely human nature, that God adopted him as the Son of God, that Jesus embodied the Word or will of God, that Jesus is nevertheless worthy of adoration, and that God bestowed the government of the world on him after the Ascension.
  3. Therefore Socinianism denies the Holy Trinity.  In fact, Socinianism influenced the development of Unitarian theology, especially with regard to the nature of Jesus.

Meyfart wrote devotional works, from which hymns came.  These books indicated great literary skill and a firm grasp of theology.  Eduard Emil Koch (1809-1871) wrote of Meyfart in 1871.  Our saint was

a German Dante, full of learning and fantasy, an individual that one would seldom encounter anywhere.

The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal (1941) indicated that these devotional books were

noted for their vivid portrayals and their earnest calls to repentance and amendment of life.

–Page 546

One of Meyfart’s hymns, drawn from Tuba Novissima (1626), exists in English in various translations and altered forms thereof.  Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) published her translation in the second volume of her Lyra Germanica (1858).  (Consult pages 237-239, O reader.)  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) contains an altered version of the Winkworth translation as “Jerusalem, Thou City Fair and High.”  The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) calls the hymn “Jerusalem, Whose Towers Touch the Skies.”  Lutheran Worship (1982) and the Lutheran Service Book (2006) list the hymn as “Jerusalem, O City Fair and High.”  William Rollinson Whittingham (1805-1879), Episcopal Bishop of Maryland from 1840 to 1879, prepared his own translation, which debuted in Hymns for Church and Home, Compiled by Members of the Protestant Episcopal Church, as a Contribution to Any Addition That May Be Made to the Hymns Now Attached to the Prayer-Book (1860):

Jerusalem! high tower thy glorious walls,

Would God I were in thee!

Desire of thee my longing heart enthralls,

Desire at home to be;

Wide from the world outleaping,

O’er hill and vale and plain,

My soul’s strong wing is sweeping

Thy portals to attain.

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O gladsome day and yet more gladsome hour!

When shall that hour have come

When my rejoicing soul its own free power

May use in going home,

Itself to Jesus giving

In trust to his own hand,

To dwell among the living

In that blest fatherland?

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A moment’s time, the twinkling of an eye

Shall be enough, to soar

In buoyant exultation, through the sky

And reach the heavenly shore.

Elijah’s chariot bringing

The homeward traveller there;

Glad troops of angels winging

It onward through the air.

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Great fastness thou of honor! thee I greet!

Throw wide thy gracious gate,

An entrance free to give these longing feet;

At last released, though late,

From wretchedness and sinning,

And life’s long weary way;

And now, of God’s gift, winning

Eternity’s bright day.

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What throng is this, what noble troop, that pours,

Arrayed in beauteous guise,

Out through the glorious city’s open doors,

To greet my wondering eyes?

The host of Christ’s elected,

The jewels that he bears

In his own crown, selected

To wipe away my tears.

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Of prophets great, and patriarchs high, a band

That once has borne the cross,

With all the company that won that land,

By counting gain for loss,

Now float in freedom’s lightness,

From tyrant’s chains set free;

And shine like suns in brightness,

Arrayed to welcome me.

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Once more at last arrived they welcome there,

To beauteous Paradise;

Where sense can scarce its full fruition bear

Or tongue for praise suffice;

Glad hallelujahs ringing

With rapturous rebound,

And rich hosannahs singing

Eternity’s long round.

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Unnumbered choirs before the Lamb’s high throne

There shout the jubilee,

With loud resounding peal and sweetest tone,

In blissful ecstasy:

A hundred thousand voices

Take up the wondrous song;

Eternity rejoices

God’s praises to prolong.

Meyfart died at Erfurt on January 26, 1642.

Reading about Meyfart reminds me of the fact that many gems of German Lutheran hymnody do not exist in any English-language translation.  That fact makes me with that the opposite were true.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF GEORG GOTTFRIED MULLER, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Johann(es) Matthaus Meyfart 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 Gerhard Gieschen (June 9)   Leave a comment

Lutheran Church in America Logo

Above:  Logo of the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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GERHARD GIESCHEN (JUNE 28, 1899-JUNE 22, 1987)

U.S. Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator

Sometimes I am especially grateful for the existence of the Internet.  Research for this post started with Lutheran hymnal companion volumes, but Internet searches and newspapers.com proved quite helpful in following up on leads and finding more information.

Gerhard Gieschen entered the world at Helenville, Wisconsin, on June 28, 1899.  His parents were John Gieschen and Anna Sophia Bieck Gieschen.  Our saint attended Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (a Missouri Synod school), then Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin, and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Thiensville, Wisconsin (Wisconsin Synod schools).  The Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States (the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod since 1959) ordained him in 1922.  Geischen served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rib Falls, Wisconsin, for a few years.  Then he was assistant minister and school principal at Marshfield, Wisconsin.  That job ended in the early 1930s due to the Great Depression.

Forest Park Review, November 2, 1950, page 3

Forest Park Review, Forest Park, Illinois, November 2, 1950, page 3

Obtained via newspapers.com

Gieschen, however, spent most of his ministerial career in less conservative denominations.  He joined the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) in 1933, becoming the pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Leigh, Nebraska.  He ministered in Wayne, Nebraska, from 1940 to 1942.  A tenure (1942-1947) at Our Redeemer Church, Omaha, Nebraska, followed.  Then, from 1947 to 1950, Gieschen served at St. Peter’s Church, Forest Park, Illinois.

Forest Park Review, January 19, 1950 I

Forest Park Review, January 19, 1950 II

Forest Park Review, Forest Park, Illinois, January 19, 1950, page 2

Obtained via newspapers.com

Next Gieschen moved to seminary work in the ULCA and its immediate successor, the Lutheran Church in America (LCA).  He taught systematic theology at the Central Lutheran Theological Seminary, Fremont, Nebraska (1893-1967), serving finally as the Acting President of that institution from 1964 to 1967, until its consolidation into the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Illinois.  Thereafter our saint held Professor Emeritus status at the merged seminary.

Gieschen remained active, however.  He taught at Midland College, Fremont, Nebraska, from 1967 to 1969.  Then he returned to the pulpit as pastor of Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from 1970 to 1975.  In this capacity our saint succeeded one of his sons, Roger Gieschen, as the pastor there.

Gerhard and Lucille Anita Graber Gieschen (1902-1988) had four children, two of whom–Roger and David– became Lutheran ministers.  Roger, ordained in the ULCA in 1958, was the founding pastor of Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, from 1958 to 1969.  Next he ministered at St. Paul’s Church, Wichita, Kansas, serving until 1973, when he became the Director of Missions in the central states and Iowa for the LCA’s Division for Ministry.  Then, in 1978, Roger became the President of the Central States Synod.  Two years later the LCA made its synodical presidents bishops, so he was Bishop Gieschen until 1988.

David Gieschen became the founding pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Manhattan, Kansas, in 1963.  Twelve years later he was working in the LCA’s Division of Parish Services of the Department of Program Resources.

Gerhard Gieschen translated a Martin Opitz (1597-1639) text from 1628 as “Arise and Shine in Splendor.”  The original translation, that of 1937, appeared in Faith-Life, the periodical of the Protes’tant Conference, which broke away from the Wisconsin Synod in the 1920s.  He revised the translation for The Lutheran Hymnal (1941).  Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Missouri, holds the copyright on the translation and its variations.  Thus I refer you, O reader, to The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), Lutheran Worship (1982), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006), all of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Our saint died at Sun City, Arizona, on June 1987, six days short of his eighty-eighth birthday.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 10, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEODOSIUS THE CENOBRIARCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF CHARLES WILLIAM EVEREST, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MILAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAUD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Gerhard Gieschen 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 Ray Palmer (November 12)   1 comment

087360pv

Above:  Central Congregational Church, Bath, Maine, 1851

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS ME,12-BATH,8–13

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RAY PALMER (NOVEMBER 12, 1808-MARCH 29, 1887)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

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Many who sing hymns in the English-speaking world these days might recognize the name of Ray Palmer in conjunction with “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” and no other text.  He did, however, write or translate thirty-seven other texts, some of which I have excavated from hymnals in my collection and added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  I choose not to list those hymns individually, but I invite you, O reader, to follow the link in the previous sentence and read them for yourself.  Consider also, O reader, that he wrote most of his hymns in 1830, when he was twenty-one years old and having a difficult year between graduating from Yale College and returning to New Haven, Connecticut, for seminary.  “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” came from that time in his life.  Palmer refused to accept payment for his hymns or to permit changes to the texts.  Ironically, Lutheran Worship, the 1982 service book-hymnal of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, contained a badly rewritten of our saint’s most famous hymn.  “My Faith Looks Trustingly” confused congregations for twenty-four years until the Lutheran Service Book (2006) restored the original text.  As the Missouri Synod has proven, butchering old hymns in the name of modernizing them is not the sole province of well-intentioned liberals; well-intentioned conservatives intent on preserving meaning at the expense of language are just as capable of committing this offense.

Ray Palmer (1808-1887) was a son of Judge Thomas Palmer of Little Compton, Rhode Island.  Our saint left home for Boston, Massachusetts, at age thirteen, to work as a clerk in a dry goods store.  He joined the Park Street Congregational Church, whose senior minister helped Palmer enter Phillips Andover Academy.   Three years later our saint, having graduated, commenced his studies at Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut.  He supported himself financially by teaching others while attending classes at Yale.  Our saint, aged twenty-one years and having graduated from Yale, lived for a year in New York City, where he taught at a girls’ school while studying theology under a pastor’s direction.  In 1831 our saint started seminary at New Haven.  He became an ordained Congregationalist minister in 1835.

Palmer’s ministerial career did not require him to move much.  He served two congregations as pastor, each for about fifteen years.  First, in 1835, started his time at Central Congregational Church, Bath, Maine.  Then, in 1850, he transferred to First Congregational Church, Albany, New York.  In 1865 Palmer moved to New York City to become the Corresponding Secretary of the American Congregational Union.  The retired after fourteen years in that position and moved to Newark, New Jersey, in 1879.  There our saint, active in Belleville Avenue Congregational Church, specialized in the ministry of visiting people.  He died in Newark on March 29, 1887.

A partial list of Palmer’s publications follows:

  1. Memoirs, and Select Remains of Charles Pond, Late Member of the Sophomore Class of Yale College (First Edition, 1829; Second Edition, 1831);
  2. The Spirit’s Life; A Poem (1837);
  3. The Study of History Commended to the Active Classes of Society (1838);
  4. Doctrinal Textbook (1839);
  5. Spiritual Improvement; or, Aid to Growth in Grace; A Companion for the Christian’s Closet (1839);
  6. Closet Hours; or, Aids to Spiritual Improvement and Practical Religion (1851), the reissued edition of Spiritual Improvement (1839);
  7. Christ Going Forth to Purify the World:  A Sermon Preached Before the Foreign Evangelical Society, New York, May 7, 1848 (published in 1851); and
  8. Address on the Education of Women (1852), unfortunately of its time regarding the propriety of separate spheres for men and women;
  9. Hints on the Formation of Religious Opinions; Addressed Especially to Young Men and Women of Christian Education (1860);
  10. Hymns and Sacred Pieces; with Miscellaneous Poems (1865);
  11. Remember Me; or, the Holy Communion (1865);
  12. Hymns of My Holy Hours; and Other Pieces (1868);
  13. Home; or, the Unlost Paradise (1872);
  14. Earnest Words on True Success in Life; Addressed to Young Men and Women (1873);
  15. The Poetical Works of Ray Palmer (1876); and
  16. Voices of Hope and Gladness (1881).

Palmer contributed to other volumes (excluding hymnals), including:

  1. Speeches in Behalf of the University of Albany (1852);
  2. Hymns to Our King (1872); he wrote the Note to the Publisher; and
  3. Higher Education and a Common Language (1879)

Palmer makes a fine addition to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CAMPBELL SHAIRP, SCOTTISH POET AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF PHILANDER CHASE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS OF VILLANOVA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF VILLANOVA

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Ray Palmer 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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