The Fathers' Faith, the Children's Song: Missouri Lutheranism Encounters American Evangelicalism in its Hymnals, Hymn Writers, and Hymns, 1889-1912
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Jon D. Vieker, "The Fathers' Faith, the Children's Song: Missouri Lutheranism Encounters American Evangelicalism in Its Hymnals, Hymn Writers, and Hymns, 1889-1912." Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2014. 581 pp.
This dissertation offers an accounting of the hymnological sea change in the Missouri Synod as it transitioned from German into English toward the end of the nineteenth century. It explores how this immigrant, Lutheran church body brought a large portion of its German hymnody into English, while at the same time appropriating a substantial number of English-language hymns from the surrounding ecclesial culture of American Evangelicalism.
The dissertation is divided into three sections. The first section explores the formation histories and backgrounds of three principal hymnals during this period: the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (1889, 1892); the Sunday-School Hymnal (1901); and the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (1912), the first, official, English-language hymnal of the Missouri Synod. It explores the role of August Crull and William Dallmann as they edited these hymnals and encountered the American Sunday School movement and the hymnody of American Evangelicalism.
The second section explores the background of representative German- and English-language hymn writers, as well as a number of hymn translators. Toward that end, it provides a chronological narrative of German hymnody from the Reformation, through German Pietism, and into the nineteenth-century. A second parallel study of English hymnody—from Watts and the Wesleys and into the flowering of Victorian hymnody—is also provided. An excursus into the background of Revivalism and the Gospel Song as well as Missouri Synod attitudes toward these movements concludes this section.
The third section provides a review and assessment of representative hymn texts according to a standard definition of Evangelicalism suggested by David W. Bebbington—the so-called “Bebbington Quadrilateral" (Bible, cross, conversion, and activism). These four loci and a variety of sub-themes are employed to explore the respective thematic emphases of the German-and English-language hymn corpuses. The ranked hymn lists of Stephen A. Marini are also employed to assist in identifying the most prominent hymns and themes of American Evangelicalism.
In just one generation, the hymnody of the Missouri Synod changed from an entirely German-language hymn corpus to a hymn corpus dominated by English-language hymnody. While the German-language core was renewed with great vitality in English translation, a theologically rich and eclectic collection of English-language hymns was incorporated alongside that would serve this branch of American Lutheranism well into the twentieth century and beyond.
Vieker, Jon, "The Fathers' Faith, the Children's Song: Missouri Lutheranism Encounters American Evangelicalism in its Hymnals, Hymn Writers, and Hymns, 1889-1912" (2014). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 49.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.