Archive for the ‘Thomas Hansen Kingo’ Tag

Feast of Nikolai Grundtvig (September 8)   3 comments

Above:  Portrait of Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1862), by Constantin Hansen

Image in the Public Domain

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NIKOLAI FREDERIK SEVERIN GRUNDTVIG (SEPTEMBER 8, 1783-SEPTEMBER 2, 1872)

Danish Lutheran Minister, Bishop, Historian, Philosopher, Poet, Educator, and Hymn Writer

“The Father of the Public School in Scandinavia”

Nikolai Grundtvig comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and The Episcopal Church.  His Lutheran feast day (since 1978) is September 2.  His Episcopal feast day (since 2009) is September 8, shared, appropriately, with Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), his contemporary.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, or the Danish State Church

The Enlightenment had much to recommend it–freedom of the press, liberty of conscience, constitutional government, et cetera.  The founding of my country, the United States of America, owed much to the Enlightenment.  However, the Enlightenment had limits to its virtues.  It overestimated the powers of human reason, for example.  The intellectual movement also rejected the “supernatural,” a category I consider spurious (although I accept that many of the contents of that category are real, just as natural as birds and sunsets).  Rationalism dominated Danish Lutheranism during much of Grundtvig’s lifetime.  The influence of Rationalism reduced pastors to moral instructors, truncated and rewrote the liturgy, and rejected human sinfulness.  Rationalism was what Archdeacon Claus Harms (1778-1855) of Kiel condemned in 1877 as the

papacy of reason

–strong language, coming from a Lutheran.

A competing strand of Lutheranism was Pietism, usually dated to 1675 and either credited to or blamed on, depending on one’s opinion of it, Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705), author of Pia Desideria (Heartfelt Desire).  Pietism began as a reaction against dry, abstract orthodoxy divorced from daily life.  On the positive side, Pietism encouraged personal prayers and devotions, the study of the Bible, and much charitable work.  On the other hand, Pietism devalued grace (via a fixation on works) and the sacraments, was subjective to the point of undermining orthodoxy, frowned upon “worldly amusements” to the point of sourness, and redefined the Church as the assembly of the regenerated and reborn, not as the community of those bound together by word and sacraments.

There were also orthodox Lutherans, of course.

Young Nikolai Grundtvig

Nikolai Grundtvig, born in Udby, near Vordinborg, Denmark, on September 8, 1783, eventually offended all the above parties.  He, the youngest of five children, came from a long line of ministers.  His father sent the nine-year-old Nikolai to Jylland, to study under the Reverend L. Feld.  Two years later our saint passed his examen actium.  By the time Grundtvig graduated from the University of Copenhagen with a degree in theology in 1803, he had no faith left.

For a few years Grundtvig wandered in the spiritual wilderness.  For three years he worked as a tutor to a wealthy family in Langeland.  He, a fine poet, studied Icelandic epics and the Eddas.  In 1807 our saint wrote his first theological treatise, about religion and liturgy.  From 1808 to 1811 our saint taught history in Copenhagen.  During this time he returned to a state of faith.

Grundtvig was orthodox.  In his trial sermon, delivered in 1810, our saint asked,

Why has the Word of God disappeared from His house?

This condemnation of the dominant Rationalism delayed Grundtvig’s ordination for a year.  From 1811 to 1813 our saint served as assistant minister at Udby, under his ailing father, who died in 1813.  At Udby Grundtvig wrote Kort Begred af Verdens Kronike i Sammerhaeng (Short Concept of the World Chronicle, 1812), his first work of history from a Christian perspective.

The Wilderness Years

For much of 1813-1839 Grundtvig was unemployable as a minister.  He did not work as a pastor from 1813 to 1821 and from 1826 to 1839.  Literary work occupied much of our saint’s time.  He published a collection of poems in 1814, a volume of sermons in 1816, and an edition of Beowulf in 1820.  Grundtvig’s rejection of Romanticism foreshadowed that of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).

Grundtvig worked again as a pastor in 1821-1826.  King Frederick VI appointed our saint the pastor at Presto in 1821.  The following year Grundtvig became the assistant pastor of Our Savior’s Church, Kristianshavn.  He resigned that post amid a libel lawsuit five years later.  In 1825, in Kirkens Gienmaele (The Church’s Reply), Grundtvig had accused the theologian H. N. Clausen of treating Christianity as a merely philosophical idea.  Our saint argued that Christianity is actually a historical revelation handed down from generation to generation via Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.  Authorities censored Grundtvig’s writings.

Grundtvig was out of the pulpit again.  He traveled to England several times in 1829-1831 to study old Anglo-Saxon documents.  In so doing he pioneered a field of research.  Sang-Värk til den Danske Kirke (Songs for the Danish Church), his hymnal published in 1837, was popular.  Grundtvig, a lecturer at Borsch’s College in 1838, returned to parish work, at Vartov, Copenhagen, in 1839.  There he remained for the rest of his life.

Grundtvigianism

During the 1820s Grundtvig developed Grundtvigianism, the movement that reshaped Danish Lutheranism and, to a lesser degree, influenced Norwegian Lutheranism.  Grundtvig rooted his orthodoxy in the liturgy and the sacraments.  He emphasized

the living word,

the locus of which he identified as the Apostles’ Creed, used in baptisms.  Only “the living word,” Grundtvig argued, could fulfill the need for

the great natural law of the spiritual life,

that is,

the necessity of the spoken word for the awakening of life and the transmission of the spirit.

Grundtvig rejected the position of orthodox Danish Lutherans at the time that the Bible was the sole source and standard of faith.  According to our saint, the Bible was

the dead word.

It was vital, but the word of God, broadly speaking, was the message of God, not the contents of a book.   As Luther wrote,

Printed words are dead, spoken words are living.  On the printed page they are not so forcible as when uttered by the sound of man through his mouth.

In context Grundtvig was not far afield from Martin Luther and John Calvin.  Luther, who understood Sola Scriptura narrowly, to mean that nothing outside the Bible is necessary for salvation, emphasized the power of the spoken word in the liturgy.  Grundtvig, therefore, stood in line with Luther.  Furthermore, Reformed theology has long recognized the created order as a second “book,” alongside the Bible, in which to encounter God.  Another portion of Reformation theology has been the distinction between the “word of God” (the Bible) and the “Word of God” (Jesus), a reference that reaches back to the Gospel of John.  As far as I have been able to discern, Grundtvig’s primary innovation was identifying the locus of the spoken word of God in the Apostles’ Creed.

Grundtvigianism was, according to its orthodox and Pietistic critics, heretical and lax.  The Grundtvigian openness to the possibility of postmortem conversion did more than arch eyebrows.  It allegedly encouraged, for lack of a more precise term, “loose living.”  Furthermore, Grundtvig’s Christian humanism and love of Danish culture led him to value many “worldly amusements,” thereby alarming and offending Pietists.  He, for example, enjoyed the theater and encouraged folk dancing.  Danish Pietists, or “Sad Danes,” avoided such alleged sins, which Grundtvigians, or “Happy Danes” accepted.

Many of Grundtvig’s critics within Lutheranism would have accused Luther of heresy, for Grundtvig channeled Luther well.

The Public Citizen

Grundtvig became “the Father of the Public School in Scandinavia” via his folk school movement.  He opened the first folk school in Rödding, Denmark, in 1844.  The movement spread across Denmark and to Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  In residential high schools young people came together across social class lines and educated each other.

Grundtvig, from 1839 to 1872, was pastor in Vartov, Copenhagen, and, courtesy of King Frederick VII, a bishop from 1861 to 1872, was a major figure in Denmark.  In 1848, for example, Denmark was turning into a constitutional monarchy.  Our saint was a member of the constitutional assembly.

The Great Hymn Writer

Grundtvig was the greatest Scandinavian hymn writer of the nineteenth century.  He wrote more than 1000 hymns, mostly from 1837 to 1860.  (I have added a few of these texts, in English, of course, to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.)  Grundtvig’s peers in the elite club of greatest Scandinavian hymn writers included Hans Adolf Brorson (1694-1764) and Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703).  Grundtvig composed hymns for the entire church year, but his favorite theme was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Death and Legacy

Grundtvig died in Copenhagen on September 2, 1872, six days prior to what would have been his eighty-ninth birthday.  He had preached his last sermon on September 1.

Grundtvig’s influence extended beyond Scandinavia.  When Danish immigration to Canada and the United States of America began in earnest in the late 1800s, the immigrants were not of one mind regarding religion.  Many of them, indifferent to religion in Denmark, remained indifferent to it in the New World.  Grundtvigians and Pietists also immigrated.  The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (DELCA), initially a “big tent,” became a smaller tent via the Pietistic schism of 1894.  No such schism disrupted the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, however.

Evaluating Grundtvigianism

I find much to admire and little to question in Grundtvigianism.

Grundtvig’s encouragement of a positive form of Christianity that embraces the positive elements of society and culture, thereby eschewing serial contrariness and rejecting sourness in religion, in the name of God, was wonderful.  Pietistic and Puritanical hostility to “worldly amusements” has never been a spiritually or physically healthy attitude.  Much of what these Christians weaned on dill pickles have condemned–from tea, with its antioxidants, to chess, with its therapeutic uses, especially for patients suffering from cognitive decline–science has proven to be beneficial.  Art, especially those forms of it involving acting, has enriched the lives of many people.  And has there every been anything wrong with folk dancing?

Grundtvig’s liturgical and sacramental focus, in the context of Christian community, was laudable.  He stood well within Christian tradition in that and other matters.  His liturgical and sacramental focus has long had the ring of truth with me, even before I knew he had lived.  I grew up a United Methodist in rural southern Georgia, U.S.A.  We usually took Holy Communion every three months.  I wanted it more often, however, for I felt closest God in that sacrament.  That reality contributed greatly to my decision to convert to The Episcopal Church, which I did at St. Anne’s Church, Tifton, Georgia, on December 22, 1991.

My only reservation regarding Grundtvigianism relates to the unusually high status of the Apostles’ Creed.  That is a fine creed, but the identification of it as the locus of “the living word” is too narrow and specific.  The “word of God,” in my thought, is the message of God.  I can encounter in the Bible, in nature, in fine literature, in fine music, in the spoken words of another person, in the silence, in prayer, in contemplation, in the sacraments, in the liturgy, et cetera.  The canon is fixed at 73 books, per the Council of Trent, but the word of God is available from many sources.

My disagreement with Grundtvig is quite minor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF COLBERT S. CARTWRIGHT, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUGLIELMO MASSAIA, ITALIAN CARDINAL, MISSIONARY, AND CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SCRIMGER, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, ECUMENIST, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty God, you built your Church upon a rock:

Help us remember with your hymn writer Nikolai Grundtvig,

that though steeples may fall and buildings made by hands may crumble,

Jesus made our bodies his temple through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Help us to recognize Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life,

that we may join our voices to the eternal alleluia;

through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-2, 5-8

Psalm 86:1-12

Romans 5:1-5

Matthew 8:5-10

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 567

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Feast of Birgitte Katerine Boye (October 17)   1 comment

Copenhagen 1807

Above:  A Map of Copenhagen, 1807

Image in the Public Domain

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BIRGITTE KATERINE JOHANSEN HERTZ BOYE (MARCH 7, 1742-OCTOBER 17, 1824)

Danish Lutheran Poet, Playwright, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer

Birgitte Katerine Johansen, born in Gentofte, Denmark, on March 7, 1742, was the eldest of seven children of Jens Johansen, who was in the royal service, and Dorotea Henriksdatter.  In 1763 our saint married Herman Hertz (1734-1775), the newly appointed forester of the Vordingborg district.  The couple had four children in five years.  Birgitte still found time to study German, French, and English, mastering the written forms of those languages and enjoying literature in them.  She also began to compose and translate hymns.

Our saint contributed 124 original hymns and 24 translations to what became A Hymnal, or a Collection of Old and New Hymns, for the Honor of God and the Edification of His Church (1778), or Guldberg’s Hymnal, a project of Bishop Ludwig Harboe and Ove Guldberg, secretary to Crown Prince Frederik, later King Frederik VI (reigned 1808-1839).  The purpose of Guldberg’s Hymnal was to replace The Ordained New Church Hymnbook (1699), or Kingo’s Hymnbook.  The hymnal of 1778, like Erik Pontoppidan‘s Den nye Psalmebog (1740) and Bishop Balle’s Evangelisk-Kristelig Salmebog (1797), failed to replace Kingo’s Hymnbook.  Guldberg’s Hymnbook did, however, introduce many fine hymns to Danish Lutherans.

Our saint began to submit original and translated texts to Guldberg’s Hymnbook in 1773.  During the preparation of that hymnal the Crown eliminated Herman Hertz’s forestry position, harming the family’s finances.  Birgitte wrote to Bishop Harboe, who spoke to Guldberg, who interceded with Crown Prince Frederik, who paid for the education of the Hertzes’ sons for a few years.  And, after Herman Hertz died in 1775, the Crown Prince supported the family financially for three years, until Birgitte married Hans Boye (1745-1815), a customs inspector and judicial advisor in Copenhagen.

Birgitte was also a poet and a playwright.  She composed nationalistic poems, and performances of many of her plays occurred at royal events.  Her translations of Psalms 1-89 debuted in three volumes from 1781 to 1785.  To many English-speaking Christians, however, her hymns have proven most famous among her works.  The Service Book and Hymnal (1958) includes the following translation (by Fred C. M. Hanson, 1888-1965) of an Easter hymn:

Our Lord is risen from the dead,

And rays of glory crown his head,

New hope has come to mortals.

O sing, our King now is risen!

Come and listen

To the story,

Christ the Lord is risen in glory!

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He rose in power to smite his foes,

He lives to free us from our woes

And open heaven’s portals.

O sing, our King now is risen!

Come and listen

To the story,

Christ the Lord is risen in glory!

The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) offers the following Christmas text, in an English translation by Carl Doving (1867-1937) from 1911:

Rejoice, rejoice, this happy morn,

A Savior unto us is born,

The Christ, the Lord of Glory.

His lowly birth in Bethlehem

The angels from on high proclaim

And sing redemption’s story.

My soul, extol God’s great favor,

Bless Him ever

For salvation,

Give Him praise and adoration.

Our saint died at Copenhagen, Denmark, on October 17, 1824.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 13, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SYLVESTER II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WILLIAMS, WELSH ANGLICAN PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Birgitte Katerine Boye 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 Thomas Hansen Kingo (October 14)   2 comments

Danish Flag

Above:  The Flag of Denmark

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS HANSEN KINGO (DECEMBER 15, 1634-OCTOBER 14, 1703)

Danish Lutheran Bishop, Hymn Writer, and “Poet of Eastertide”

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Thomas Kingo is the psalmist

Of the Danish temple choir.

This his people will remember

Long as song their hearts inspire.

–Nikolai Grundtvig’s epitaph for Bishop Thomas Hansen Kingo

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Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703) was the first great Danish hymn writer and the “singer of orthodoxy.”  Martin Schwarz Lauten wrote of our saint’s hymns:

In grant fashion, he can describe nature’s beauty and grieve over the corruption of all things.  A healthy joie de vivre and words about daily devotional performance stand side-by-side with penitential Christianity’s confession of sin, a condemnation of human nature, and with revivalistic proclamation–all written out of the personal experiences of a sensitive and vulnerable artistic mind.

I have added translations of some of those hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Denmark 1951

Above: Denmark, 1951

Image Source = Hammond’s Complete World Atlas, 1951

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703) entered the world at Slangerup, near Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 15, 1634.  He was the son and grandson of Scottish emigrants who worked as weavers.  Our saint attended the Latin school at Slangerup, where the instruction was poor and the discipline was harsh, so he transferred to the Latin school at Fredriksborg.  The rector of that institution recognized and nurtured Kingo’s budding poetic talent.  Our saint, unlike most of his peers, who studied German literature, chose to study Danish literature instead.

Kingo’s vocation was the ordained ministry.  He completed his theological studies at the University of Copenhagen in 1658.  For the next three years he worked as a private tutor.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, the state church, ordained him in 1661.  Kingo served at a parish near Verby from 1661 to 1668, became pastor at Slangerup in 1668, and left that post in 1677 to begin duties as the Bishop of Funen (Fyn).

Kingo married three times.  In 1669 he married his first wife, Cecille “Sille” Lambertsdatter Balchenborg (circa 1630-1670), a widow with children.  Wife number two was Johanne Lauersdatter Lund (1618-1694), another widow with children.  (He had quite a blended family!)  The third wife was Birgitte Christophersdatter Balslev (1665-1744), a noblewoman who survived him and remarried after becoming a widow.

Bishop Kingo was a literary nationalist.  He wrote both sacred and secular poetry, but his reputation rests on the former.  Many of his hymns had Easter themes, hence his label “Poet of Eastertide.”  He published Spiritual Songs (First Part, 1673; Second Part, 1681).  Kingo dedicated the first volume to King Christian V (reigned 1670-1699) and the second to Queen Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel, King Christian V’s consort.  Our saint wrote in the introduction of the First Part that Danish Christians should cease to depend so heavily on translated foreign hymns.  In the introduction of the Second Part Kingo praised the German-born Queen Charlotte Amalie for learning the Danish language so well.  Our saint’s literary nationalism found expression in beautiful language.  His hymns, according to the 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica,

mark the zenith of Danish baroque poetry.

In these hymns, Nikolai Grundtvig (1783-1872), another great Danish hymn writer, wrote, Kingo

effected a combination of sublimity and simplicity, a union of splendor and fervent devotion, a powerful and musical play of words and imagery that reminds one of Shakespeare.

Edward A. Hansen, in his article about Danish hymnody in Marilyn Kay Stulken‘s Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (1981), wrote that the dominant characteristic of Danish Lutheran church life in the late 1500s and early 1600s was

a rather staid and unimaginative orthodoxy.

However, Hansen wrote,

The poems and hymns and Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703) stand out against the literary barrenness of this period as an exceptional phenomenon.

Kingo, an orthodox Lutheran, not a Pietistic or Rationalistic one, became a nobleman in 1679 and a Doctor of Theology in 1682.  In 1683 King Christian V appointed Kingo to prepare a hymnal to replace Den danske Psalmebog, the hymnbook the Danish Church had used since 1569.  According to royal decree, copies of this hymnal were in all churches and schools.  The hymnbook which Pastor Hans Thomisson (1532-1573) had prepared had proved to be an enduring legacy.  Time did pass, however, and the state church changed its hymnal eventually.  Our saint had to obey a few rules:

  1. To follow the church year,
  2. To remove undesirable hymns,
  3. To revise outdated rhymes and expressions in traditional hymns while not overhauling those hymns,
  4. To include some of his hymns, and
  5. To make no changes in the meanings of Martin Luther‘s hymns.

Kingo finished part one of his proposed hymnal in 1689.  He had written 136 of the 267 hymns (covering Advent to Easter), about 51% of the content.  The volume proved controversial, for some thought that he had eliminated too many traditional hymns (a complaint many who have prepared hymnals have heard, often legitimately).  The Church rejected this book and started over with another hymnal in 1690.  Three years later a second proposed hymnal, which contained no hymns by Kingo, debuted and met rejection also.  Finally the Church turned to Kingo again.  The Ordained New Church Hymnbook, or Kingo’s Hymnbook, debuted in 1699 and became the replacement for the 1569 hymnal.  Kingo had written 87 of the 297 texts, about 29% of the content.  Some congregations used Kingo’s Hymnbook as late as 1850.  (Scandinavian Lutheran hymnals tend to remain in use for a long time.)

One controversial aspect of Kingo’s hymns (in his several publications of sacred texts) was the music to which he set them.  He, consistent with a tradition, set hymns to folk tunes–in his case, Danish folk tunes.  This met with objections from many people.  (Whether a particular folk tune is suitable for worship is a legitimate question, I propose, but many folk tunes have proven appropriate for use in hymnals.)  Kingo also composed tunes for other texts he wrote.

Kingo died at Odense, Denmark, on October 14, 1703.  His hymns survive him, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 13, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SYLVESTER II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WILLIAMS, WELSH ANGLICAN PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

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

thank you for those (especially Thomas Hansen Kingo)

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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