Archive for the ‘Orthodox Presbyterian Church’ Tag

Feast of Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (April 12)   6 comments

Above:  Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, 1910

Photograph copyrighted by Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-74646



U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Translator

uncle of


U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Social Activist




If there is one characteristic more than others that contemporary public worship needs to recapture, it is the awe before the surpassing great and gracious God.

–Henry Sloane Coffin


God is to me that creative force, behind and in the universal, who manifests Himself as energy, as life, as order, as beauty, as thought, as conscience, as love.

–Henry Sloane Coffin


There are three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good.  The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics.  Good patriots carry on a lover’s quarrel with their country, a reflection of God’s lover’s quarrel with all the world.

–William Sloane Coffin, Jr.


It is one thing to say with the prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like mighty waters,” and quite another to work out the irrigation system.

–William Sloane Coffin, Jr.


With this post I replace two former posts with which I had become dissatisfied.  By telling the stories of Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr., together I also emphasize connections and relationships, one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  The Coffins, uncle and nephew, were prophetic figures who incurred much condemnation by fundamentalist Christians during their lifetimes.

Both Coffins continue to incur much condemnation by fundamentalist Christians, as a simple Internet search reveals.


Above:  Henry Sloane Coffin

Image in the Public Domain

Henry Sloane Coffin, born in New York City on January 5, 1877, came from a prominent family.  The family firm, W. & J. Sloane, sold upscale furniture and rugs.  It also became involved in real estate development and in low-income housing.  Attorney Edmund Coffin, Jr., and Euphemia Coffin had two especially noteworthy sons–Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Sr.  The latter of these men worked in the family firm, joined the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in 1924, and became the board’s president seven years later.

Above:  William Sloane Coffin, Sr. (1879-1933)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-25374

Henry grew up in New York City, in the lap of privilege and a corresponding sense of social responsibility.  He studied at Yale, became a Bonesman, and graduated in 1897.  Next our saint studied theology at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland, for two years before returning to the United States and working successfully on two concurrent degree programs–Bachelor of Divinity (Union Theological Seminary, 1900) and Master of Arts (Yale, 1900).

Above:  Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, New York

Image creator and copyright holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a11085

Henry was a Presbyterian minister.  He, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1900, served as pastor of Bedford Park Presbyterian Church, the Bronx, until 1905, when he transferred to Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City.  Our saint, a conscientious pastor and visitor in parishioners’ homes, built up Madison Avenue Church from a struggling congregation to one of the largest in the city during his tenure, which ended in 1926.  Starting in 1904 Henry doubled as a part-time Associate Professor of Homiletics and Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary.  Finally he accepted an offer to become the President of the seminary in 1926.  “Uncle Harry,” as students called him, guided the seminary financially through the Great Depression and hired Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.  Among Henry’s greatest accomplishments was helping to avoid a schism (related to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy) in his denomination in the middle 1920s.  A minor schism, creating what became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, occurred in 1936, but no major split occurred in the 1920s.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., born in New York City on June 1, 1924, was a son of William Sloane Coffin, Sr., and Catherine Butterfield Coffin.  Our saint, known informally as Bill, lost his father in 1933.  The family fortune had declined, and William Sr. had refused to evict low-income tenants who could not afford rent.  Catherine took her family into exile in Carmel, California, where they moved into a bungalow and the children attended public schools.  In 1937 Uncle Harry began to finance the educations of Bill and his younger sister.  Bill began to study at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Catherine left California.  The following year Catherine took Bill to Europe, where he studied classical piano–first in Paris, with Nadia Boulanger, then in Geneva–until June 1940, when World War II forced their return to the United States.

Henry, who received many honorary degrees, was prominent on the Christian and world stage.  His image graced the cover of the November 15, 1926, issue of Time magazine.  Our saint was also active in ecumenism, working successfully for the creation of the World Council of Churches (1948) and unsuccessfully in the 1940s for the merger of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and The Episcopal Church, then officially the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.   Uncle Harry also worked with former U.S. President Herbert Hoover to send provisions to the United Kingdom prior to December 8, 1941, and supported U.S. involvement in World War II.

Bill Coffin went to war.  He graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, in 1942, began studies at Yale Music School, then received his military draft notice in 1943.  For fur years he served in the U.S. Army, ending up in military intelligence.  Next our saint returned to Yale, joined the Skull and Bones Society (of which friend and classmate George Herbert Walker Bush was also a member), and graduated in 1949.  The Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) recruited Coffin at Yale, but he initially chose theology instead.  In 1949 he matriculated at Union Theological Seminary yet left for the C.I.A. the following year, shortly after the beginning of the Korean War.  At the C.I.A. Coffin taught Soviet émigrés the arts of spycraft.  Our saint left the agency over Eisenhower-era C.I.A. coups against democratically elected governments, however.  He graduated from Yale Divinity School, became a Presbyterian minister, and married actress Eva Rubenstein in 1956.

Uncle Harry retired from Union Theological Seminary in 1945 then toured the Orient and studied missionary work there.  He died, aged 77 years, on November 25, 1954, at Salisbury, Connecticut.  His wife, Dorothy Prentice Eells (married in 1906; died in 1983) and two children (Ruth and David) survived him.

Henry translated hymn stanzas and wrote books.  In 1916 he translated the following stanza of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, Desire of nations, bind

All peoples in one heart and mind;

Bid envy, strife, and discord cease;

Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

In 1910, in Hymns of the Kingdom of God, which Henry co-edited, he included the following stanza of “God Himself is With Us”:

Thou pervadest all things:

Let thy radiant beauty

Light mine eyes to see my duty.

As the tender flowers

Eagerly unfold them,

To the sunlight calmly hold them,

So let me quietly

In thy rays imbue me;

Let thy light shine through me.

Our saint’s books included the following:

  1. The Creed of Jesus and Other Sermons (1907),
  2. Social Aspects of the Cross (1911),
  3. University Sermons (1911),
  4. The Christian and the Church (1912),
  5. Some Christian Convictions:  A Practical Restatement in Terms of Present-Day Thinking (1915),
  6. The Ten Commandments:  With a Christian Application to the Present Conditions (1915),
  7. In a Day of Social Rebuilding:  Lectures on the Ministry of the Church (1918),
  8. A More Christian Industrial Order (1920),
  9. Portraits of Jesus Christ (1926),
  10. What is There in Religion? (1926),
  11. What to Preach (1926),
  12. The Meaning of the Cross (1931),
  13. What Men Are Asking (1933),
  14. God’s Turn:  A Collection of Sermons (1934),
  15. Religion Yesterday and Today (1940), and
  16. A Half-Century of Union Theological Seminary, 1896-1945 (1954).

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., became a social activist. Unfortunately, stresses associated with his quest for social justice ended his first two marriages (in 1968 and 1975).  In 1956-1957 our saint filled the one-year appointment as chaplain at Phillips Academy. In 1957 he became the chaplain at Williams College.  There our saint’s support for civil rights (especially in relation to the events in Little Rock, Arkansas) and criticism of fraternities created controversy.  One fraternity brother went so far as to shoot out Coffin’s living room window in anger.  From 1958 to 1975 our saint served as the chaplain at Yale University.  At Yale Coffin became involved in the Freedom Rides in the South, opposed the Vietnam War, and supported young men who refused to cooperate with the military draft.  For his nonviolent anti-draft activities Coffin faced federal charges, went on trial, and became a convict.  Later an appeals court overturned the conviction and the government dropped the charges.

To oppose government-sponsored violence nonviolently can place one is legal jeopardy, unfortunately.

Coffin served as the senior pastor of The Riverside Church, New York City, from 1977 to 1987.  He opposed Apartheid, lobbied for nuclear disarmament, and spoke out in favor of gay rights–when the latter was a marginal position, even on the Left.  He resigned in 1987 to work on the nuclear disarmament issue full-time.

Our saint was quite active during much of this retirement.  From 1989 to 1992 he led SANE/FREEZE, dedicated to disarmament and a freeze on atomic weapons.  Then he and third wife Virginia Randolph Wilson (married in 1984) moved to Vermont.  Coffin continued to travel and speak on a variety of topics, including his opposition to the Iraq War.  At the end of his life our saint suffered a series of strokes.  He died, surrounded by family, on April 12, 2006.  He was 81 years old.


Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin faced different challenges.  Both of them responded to those issues in front of them in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the prophets’ call to social justice, as they understood those high standards.  They were controversial in their times.  They were probably correct more often than not.







Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr.,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory f your name,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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


Feast of Sts. Callixtus I, Anterus, Pontian, and Hippolytus (October 14)   1 comment

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith and J. G. Bartholomew

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land by George Adam Smith and J. G. Bartholomew

Above:  Map of the Roman Empire in the Third Century

Image in the Public Domain



Bishop of Rome

Also known as St. Callistus I

His feast day = October 14



Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 3



Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 13




Feast transferred from August 13




This is a story of theft, self-righteousness, schism, false witness, forgiveness, repentance, and martyrdom.  Repentance, as I tire of having to explain, is far more than saying that one is sorry.  No, repentance is turning around or changing one’s mind.  To repent is literally to turn one’s back on sin.  That definition applies well to Sts. Callixtus I and Hippolytus.

Roman Catholic writer Thomas J. Craughwell notes the value of being honest about the dark episodes in the lives of the saints.  He states:

The point of reading these stories is not to experience some tabloid thrill, but to understand how grace works in the world.  Every day, all day long, God pours out his grace upon us, coaxing us, to turn away from everything that is base and cheap and unsatisfying, and turn toward the only thing that is eternal, perfect, and true–that is, himself.

Saints Behaving Badly:  The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints (New York, NY:  Doubleday, 2006), page xii

Some of the most forgiving people have been those who have known of their need of much mercy and received it.  They, having received forgiveness in abundance, have become practitioners of forgiveness–sometimes to the consternation of others, many of whom have thought of themselves as pious and orthodox, as pure.  That summary applied well to St. Hippolytus for much of his life.

Roman Catholic tradition tells the stories of two of these men–Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus–together, for they share the same feast day, August 13.  I have found that I cannot tell their stores properly without recounting that of St. Callixtus I and, in passing, what little we know of St. Anterus.  Each of these two saints has his own feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar.  I, for the sake of convenience, have moved three of the four saints to the date for the feast of St. Callixtus I.  After all, the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is my project; I answer to nobody else with regard to it.




St. Callixtus I was a slave, a bad investor, an embezzler, and an inciter of needless violence before be became a deacon, a pope, and a martyr.  As a young man he was the slave of one Carpophorus, a Christian of Rome.  Circa 190 Carpophorus founded a bank for the Christians of Rome and made St. Callixtus, who had experience managing money, the administrator thereof.  Many of the depositors were of modest means and there was no ancient equivalent of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (F.D.I.C.).  St. Callixtus proved to be a bad investor and an eager embezzler, so the bank failed, much to the financial detriment of many of the depositors.  The perfidious slave fled Rome and got as far as Portus, where his master captured him.  Back in Rome, Carpophorus sentenced St. Callixtus to the hard labor of turning a large stone wheel at a grist mill daily.  Nevertheless, some of the defrauded depositors were merciful.  They convinced Carpophorus to liberate St. Callixtus, on the condition that the slave try to recover some of the lost funds.

St. Callixtus remained a troublesome character.  He attempted to recover some of the lost funds by interrupting a Jewish worship service, demanding money from investors present, and thereby starting a brawl.  Legal charges of disturbing the peace and desecrating a holy place ensued.  Carpophorus lied in court when he denied that St. Callixtus, a baptized person, was a Christian.  (Christianity was not yet legal in the Roman Empire.)  The prefect sentenced St. Callixtus to scourging then to hard labor in the salt mines of Sardinia.  That was effectively a death sentence.

Marcia, a Christian and the mistress of the Emperor Commodus (reigned 180-192), used her influence to aid her coreligionists.  She asked Pope St. Victor I (reigned 189-198; feast day = July 28) for a list of Christians sent to Sardinia.  He gave her that list, minus St. Callixtus, whose name he omitted on purpose.  Marcia interceded with the governor of Sardinia, who freed all the listed prisoners plus St. Callixtus, who begged his way into freedom.  St. Victor, not convinced that St. Callixtus had ceased to be a scoundrel, sent him to live outside the walls of Rome and gave him an allowance.  Eventually the pontiff concluded that St. Callixtus, who had remained out of trouble for some time, had indeed repented.  St. Victor permitted him to assist St. Zephyrinus, the priest who managed the assignments of priests and deacons in Rome.

St. Zephyrinus became the mentor to St. Callixtus.  St. Victor died in 198; St. Zephyrinus succeeded him as pontiff.  The new pope ordained St. Callixtus to the diaconate and placed him in charge of the Christian cemetery (now the Catacomb of St. Callixtus) on the Appian Way.  St. Callixtus became a powerful figure in the Roman Catholic Church during the papacy of his mentor.  Predictably, he succeeded St. Zephyrinus as the Pope upon the death of the latter in 217.




The election of St. Callixtus displeased St. Hippolytus, a priest, theologian, and author of treatises and Biblical commentaries.  St. Hippolytus, born before 170, practiced a rigorous form of Roman Catholicism.  Pope St. Zephyrinus, he was convinced, held heretical views regarding the Holy Trinity.  (Ironically, in the context of the Council of Nicaea, 325 C.E., St. Hippolytus was heretic avant le lettre regarding the Holy Trinity, for he held to a subordinationist position.)  St. Hippolytus not only spoke out but did something; he became the antipope first to St. Callixtus I (reigned 217-222) then to St. Urban I (reigned 222-230) then to St. Pontian (reigned 230-235) then to St. Anterus (reigned 235-236) and possibly then briefly to St. Fabian (reigned 236-250).  St. Hippolytus led a schismatic group as he condemned St. Callixtus for everything from his past crimes to this eagerness to forgive sinners.  The latter indicated doctrinal laxity, the antipope argued.  St. Hippolytus fumed whenever St. Callixtus forgave an errant and penitent bishop who had committed fornication, for example.  The antipope complained whenever St. Callixtus welcomed former members of schismatic sects back into the fold of Holy Mother Church enthusiastically and without requiring any sign of penance.  Furthermore, St. Hippolytus falsely accused St. Callixtus of being a modalist.

Modalism is a heresy pertaining to the Holy Trinity.  It is, actually, a form of Unitarianism whose proponents argue that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not persons but are really modes of God’s being.  God, in modalist thought, is united and indivisible.  As Praxeas argued circa 210 C.E., God the Father entered the womb of St. Mary of Nazareth, suffered, died, and rose again.  This is false doctrine, as Tertullian (circa 155-225) knew well.  He retorted that Praxeas had

put to flight the Holy Spirit and crucified the Father.

–Quoted in Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought–Revised and Expanded Edition (New York, NY:  Oxford University Press, 1995), page 58

St. Callixtus was no modalist.  In fact, he excommunicated Sabellius, a prominent modalist.  St. Hippolytus replied that the Pope had done that to cover up his own modalism, however.

The life and papacy of St. Callixtus ended in 222, when a pagan mob murdered him.  Members of that mob then threw his corpse down a well in Rome.




The persecution of Christianity in the Roman Empire was not continuous.  Certain emperors engaged in the practice; others did not.  Few persecutions were empire-wide; most were regional and sporadic.  For most of the tenure of Pope St. Pontian (July 21, 230-September 28, 235) imperial persecution was not a problem.  Other issues dominated the reign of the son of Calpurnius.  St. Pontian presided over the synod that ratified the decision of St. Demetrius of Alexandria (126-231) to banish Origen (185-254), to refuse to recognize his priestly ordination, and to excommunicate him.  (Nevertheless, Origen found refuge with sympathetic bishops and persuaded heretics to turn to orthodoxy.)  In March 235 Maximinus I became emperor.  He ended his predecessor’s policy of toleration of Christianity and targeted leaders of the faith first.  Authorities arrested Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus, convicted them, and sent them to die in the salt mines of Sardinia.  St. Pontian, recognizing the need of continuous leadership of the church, became the first pope to resign.  He stepped down on September 28, 235.

The next pope, St. Anterus, of whom we know little, much like his predecessor once removed, St. Urban I (reigned 222-230), took office on November 21, 235.  Contrary to the tradition that he died a martyr, St. Anterus seems to have died of natural causes.  His pontificate was brief, ending on January 3, 236.

Pope St. Fabian (reigned January 10, 236-January 20, 250) had a longer pontificate.  He became one of the first victims of the Decian persecution, one of those empire-wide persecutions of Christianity.

Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus died on Sardinia circa 236–the latter of the hard labor and the former by means of a beating by guards.  The antipope renounced schism, reconciled with the Church, and urged his followers to do the same while in prison in Rome or on Sardinia.  (The available sources disagree on that point.)  In 236 or 237 Pope St. Fabian interred the remains of these two men in Rome.  Holy Mother Church forgave him and recognized him as a saint.  To paraphrase Thomas J. Craughwell, writing in Saints Behaving Badly, the Church was more like St. Callixtus I than St. Hippolytus.




St. Hippolytus, prior to his repentance, thought of the Church as the assembly of saints, not as the hospital for sinners.  He was not the last person to hold that opinion and to start a schismatic movement based on that premise.  For example, just a few decades later, in the wake of the Decian persecution, Donatism (in its narrow definition) arose and persisted for centuries, dividing the Church in northern Africa.  Donatism, in its broad definition, has never ceased.  It has, in fact, led to many ecclesiastical schisms.  My studies of church history have revealed that most ecclesiastical schisms have occurred to the right and most ecclesiastical mergers (unions and reunions) have occurred to the left.  The self-identified pure of theology have long argued not only with those in the institutions from which they departed but also among themselves.  Thus schisms have frequently begat schisms.  (I can recall examples of this generalization easily.  I think for example, of the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1936, of the subsequent split in that body almost immediately, and of the rending asunder the group that broke away from it.)  In that process of bickering and breaking away one casualty has frequently been forgiveness.

I spent the most recent Good Friday in Americus, Georgia, away from home.  While in that town I attended the Noontime service at Calvary Episcopal Church.  The Rector said in the homily that we Christians stand in the need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ.  Nevertheless, many non-Christians perceive us as standing in the place of judgment, much like Pontius Pilate.  That statement was sadly accurate.  I have concluded that the main cause of the perception that we are judgmental is the fact that many of us are indeed judgmental, that many of us seem not to know that we really stand in the need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ.

St. Callixtus I knew where he stood.  St. Hippolytus eventually learned where he stood.  St. Pontian knew where he stood and extended mercy to the antipope.  All three men died as martyrs.


Holy God, in whom judgment and mercy exist in balance,

thank you for the lived example of Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior and Lord.

May we know that we stand not in the place of judgment

but in need of forgiveness, at the foot of the cross of Christ,

and, by grace, nurture the habit of forgiveness of others and ourselves.

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

Isaiah 30:15-26

Psalm 130

Romans 12:1-21

Luke 17:1-4








Feast of Carl Doving (October 2)   2 comments

Decorah, Iowa 1908

Above:  Panoramic View of Decorah, Iowa, Circa 1908

Copyright Claimant = Brunt & Parman

H116196–U.S. Copyright Office

Image Source = Library of Congress


CARL DOVING (MARCH 21, 1867-OCTOBER 2, 1937)

Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator

I collect hymnals from different denominations for several reasons, including the fact that variety in hymnody interests me.  Variety is the spice of life with regard to hymns, for it guards against a generic, vanilla sensibility in church music and texts thereto.  Hymns which Carl Doving (1867-1937), or, as The Service Hymnal:  A Lutheran Homecoming (2001) misspells his last name, “Dovig,” translated are most likely to appear in hymnals of denominations with a Scandinavian or German heritage, for he rendered texts from Scandinavian and German sources into English.  These English-language texts are products of a finely honed mind, the intellect of a skilled linguist, and a deep trust in God.

Doving, a native of Norddalen, Norway, lived in Norway, South Africa, and the United States of America.  In 1883, ag age 16, he moved to the Natal, South Africa.  There Bishop Nils Astrup, a missionary of the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (SNELCA), educated him.  Our saint taught at Astrup’s Schreuder Mission, Untunjambili, for a few years before emigrating to the United States at age 23 in 1890.  He studied at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, for three years, graduating in 1893 then commencing studies at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1896.  Along the way to becoming an ordained minister of the SNELCA then its immediate successor, the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (1917-1946)/The Evangelical Lutheran Church (1946-1960), wrote three books from his experiences in South Africa:

  1. Billeder fra Syd-Afrika (1892),
  2. Blandt Zuluerne i Syd-Afrika (1894), and
  3. Izihabelelo (1896).

The last book was a volume of Zulu hymns;  the first two were apparently about missionary efforts among the Zulus, according to the scant information I found online.

My sources–books, secondary websites, and primary sources I accessed via Internet searches–helped me to establish some dates in Doving’s career, but not as many as I would have preferred.  I do know the following, however:

  1. Doving served a churches in Red Wing and Montevideo, Minnesota.  He was serving at the congregation in Montevideo in 1902.
  2. In 1903 the SNELCA asked Doving to undertake missionary work among the Zulus.  I have found no indication of his reply.
  3. By 1905 Doving was serving as pastor of the First Scandinavian Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, New York, New York.  He remained there through at least 1911, perhaps 1912.
  4. Doving served as a visiting pastor in Freeborn County, Minnesota, in October and November 1912, overlapping with the long-term tenure of Olof Hanson Smeby (1851-1929) there.  By then Smeby and Doving had concluded their service on the committee for The Lutheran Hymnary (1913).
  5. Doving’s final assignment was as city missionary in Chicago.  This work was well underway by 1916.  One of our saint’s duties was visiting people in hospitals.  Many of them were immigrants not fluent in English.  Fortunately, Doving was fluent in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and Greek.


Above:  The Conclusion of the Preface to The Lutheran Hymnary (1913)

Scanned from the 1935 edition of The Lutheran Hymnary by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Doving applied his linguistic abilities to translating German and Scandinavian hymns also.  Some sources I consulted indicated that The Lutheran Hymnary contains 32 of his translations.  I counted hymns and wrote down titles, however, and arrived at a different number–37.

Mason City Globe-Citizen, March 6, 1934, page 16 01

Mason City Globe-Citizen, March 6, 1934, page 16 02

Above:  An Article from the Mason City Globe-Citizen, Mason City, Iowa, March 6, 1934, Page 16

Obtained via

The Lutheran Hymnary and users thereof benefited from our saint’s large hymnological library and extensive knowledge of hymnology.  Doving donated that library to Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in 1934.  Since 1997 the custodian of said library has been Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.  That library contains thousands of hymnals and books about hymns in more than 300 languages and from six continents.  The oldest book in the collection dates to the middle 1600s; the most recent volume comes from the early 1900s.  It is a collection which a recognized expert in the field of hymnology assembled.

Carl Doving (D.D., Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, 1931), died at Chicago, Illinois, on October 2, 1937.  His hymn translations survive, and not only in out-of-print hymnbooks.  My survey of germane, current hymnals reveals the following count of Doving texts, in descending order:

  1. Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (The Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1996)–16;
  2. Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994)–11;
  3. Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1993)–5;
  4. Lutheran Service Book (The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, 2006)–3;
  5. The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (The Evangelical Covenant Church of America, 1996)–2;
  6. The Service Book:  A Lutheran Homecoming (unofficial, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2001)–2;
  7. Celebrating Grace Hymnal (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, 2010)–1;
  8. Chalice Hymnal (Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1995)–1;
  9. Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2006)–1;
  10. Moravian Book of Worship (Moravian Church in America, 1995)–1;
  11. The New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ, 1995)–1;
  12. The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1985)–1;
  13. Trinity Hymnal–Baptist Edition (Reformed Baptist, 1995)–1; and
  14. Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Church in America, 1990)–1.

I checked many other current hymnals in my collection and found no Carl Doving texts in them.

The top two hymnals on the list come from denominations with a dominant Norwegian heritage.  The Evangelical Lutheran Synod formed in opposition to the merger which created the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (1917-1946)/The Evangelical Lutheran Church (1946-1960), which merged into The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987).  The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations is the remnant of The Lutheran Free Church, which merged into The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987) in 1963.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also has a strong Norwegian heritage.

Denominations with strong German roots include the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Moravian Church in America, and the United Church of Christ.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has strong Swedish and Danish roots, as well as Icelandic and Finnish heritages.  Hymnals of Swedish and Danish immigrant denominations had a stronger Scandinavian hymnody than non-ethnic U.S. Lutheran hymnbooks have had, beginning with the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  The Evangelical Covenant Church of America has Swedish immigrant roots.

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has an ethnic Finnish constituency also.

Our saint left a fine legacy, one which continues to benefit people.







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

thank you for those (especially Carl Doving)

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






Posted April 29, 2015 by neatnik2009 in October 2, Saints of 1870-1879, Saints of 1880-1889, Saints of 1890-1899, Saints of 1900-1909, Saints of 1910-1919, Saints of 1920-1929, Saints of 1930-1939

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Feast of Hugh Thomson Kerr, Sr., and Hugh Thomson Kerr, Jr. (June 27)   1 comment


Above:  Interior View, Facing the Altar and Pulpit, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 1963

Image Creator = Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS PA,2-PITBU,22–10



U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Liturgist

father of 

HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR. (JULY 1, 1909-MARCH 27, 1992)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Scholar, and Theologian


With this post I add a father-son combination to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Hugh Thomson Kerr, Sr., was born at Elora, Ontario, Canada, in 1872.  He attended Knox College of the University of Toronto and the Theological School of the Presbyterian Church of Canada before coming to the United States and studying at Western Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Presbytery of Pittsburgh ordained him in 1897.  Hugh Sr. served a church in Hutchinson, Kansas, then at Fullerton Avenue Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois, before becoming pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1913.  He retired from that congregation thirty-three years later.  For the fiftieth anniversary of Shadyside Church Hugh Sr. wrote a hymn, “God of Our Life” (1916).

Hugh Sr. served on the denominational level with distinction.  He, the 1930-1931 Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., helped to shepherd the denomination through the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, the one which ended with the Presbyterian Church of America (renamed “Orthodox Presbyterian Church” after a few years and its own schism in the late 1930s, after the death of its founder, J. Gresham Machen), breaking way in 1936.  (Some of the theologically self-identified “pure” are purer than others.)

Presbyterian Church of America Article

Above:  Part of an Article about the New Presbyterian Church of America (later the Orthodox Presbyterian Church), July 8, 1936

Photograph Dated December 31, 2013

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Hugh Sr. also helped to create The Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932) and The Book of Common Worship (1946).  The latter volume, according to some Presbyterian critics, was too Episcopalian.

BCW 1946

Above:  My Grandmother’s Handwriting Inside the Front of a Copy of The Book of Common Worship (1946)

Photograph Dated December 31, 2013

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Hugh Sr. was an ecclesiastical pioneer.  In the 1920s and 1930s he preached via radio.  And he, an ecumenist, helped to bring about World Communion Sunday, celebrating the first one at Shadyside Church in 1933.

A partial list of Hugh Sr.’s publications’ follows:

  1. Port to Listening Post (1910);
  2. Children’s Story-Sermons (1911);
  3. Children’s Missionary Story Sermons (1915);
  4. The Highway of Life, and Other Sermons (1917);
  5. The Supreme Gospel:  A Study of the Epistle to the Hebrews (1918);
  6. My First Communion (1920); and
  7. Children’s Gospel Story-Sermons (1921).

Hugh Thomson Kerr, Jr., was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1909.  He graduated from Princeton University in 1931 then began his M.A. studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  He graduated in 1934 and became a Presbyterian minister.  Hugh Jr., after studying for his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh (1934-1936), joined the faculty of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.  He returned to Princeton in 1940, joining the faculty of the Theological Seminary.  In 1950 Hugh Jr. became the Benjamin B. Warfield Professor of Systematic Theology, holding that position until he retired twenty-four years later.

Hugh Jr., a scholar, maintained an association with Theology Today from 1944 to 1992, first as Associate Editor (through 1951) then as Editor (starting in 1951).  His published works included many articles and some books, such as:

  1. A Compend of The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin (1939), as editor;
  2. A Compend of Luther’s Theology (1943), as editor;
  3. Positive Protestantism:  An Interpretation of the Gospel (1950);
  4. By John Calvin:  A Reflection Book Introduction to the Writings of John Calvin (1960);
  5. Our Life in God’s Light (1979), collected essays; and
  6. A Year With the Bible, an annual devotional guide.

Hugh Jr., like his father, was an ecumenist.  The son, a supporter of the rights of women, participated in the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Women.  He was also active in the National Council of Churches’ Committee on Church Architecture as well as in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Hugh Jr. died at Princeton, New Jersey in 1992.

Father and son left the church and the world better than they found them.








Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Hugh Thomson Kerr, Sr.; and Hugh Thomson Kerr, Jr.;

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, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60