Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Excerpts "The Augustana Synod : a brief review of its history, 1860-1910" [Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1910]

"The Augustana Synod : a brief review of its history, 1860-1910"[Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1910]

https://archive.org/details/augustanasynodbr00augu Swedish Lutheran pioneer missionaries / [C.J. Petri] -- A brief history of the Augustana Synod / [C.J. Sodgren] -- Church polity of the Augustana Synod / [Martin J. Englund] -- The missionary enterprises of the Augustana Synod / [Peter Peterson] -- The educational institutions of the Augustana Synod / [I.M. Anderson] -- The charitable institutions of the Augustana Synod / [M. Wahlstrom] -- The publishing interests of the Augustana Synod / [F.A. Johnsson] -- The language question / [Julius Lincoln] -- The union of the Augustatna Synod with the General Council / [C.A. Blomgren] -- The significance of the Augustana Synod to the Swedish Lutherans in America / [G.A. Brandelle] -- Statistics of the educational institutions

I.M. Anderson, “Educational …”

That musical organizations have flourished at Swedish institutions goes without saying. A separate chapter in the history of our educa- tional institutions should be devoted to the invaluable services of Dr. 0. Olsson, who, inspired by the rendering of Handel's oratorio, "The Messiah", to which he listened in London in 1879, conceived the idea of introducing our college youth to this glorious form of music. Upon returning to Eock Island he carried out this idea in the best and most practical manner by causing college students actually to render "The Messiah". The effects of this movement have been benef-


icent and far-reaching beyond all expectations. Not only at Augus- tana College has the interest in oratorio music thus engendered con- tinued to manifest itself by annual concerts, but it has been taken up by other institutions of our Synod, notably at Bethany College, where the rendering of oratorio music has attained to a surpassing degree of perfection.

If, then, the Augustana Synod really has characteristics which are deemed of such great value that it would be an inestimable loss should they perish from the earth, then, we repeat, it pays to maintain those institutions which are the most effective instruments for perpetuating these characteristics, whatever be the cost. And we believe that the Augustana Synod has such characteristics. We believe that the repre- sentatives from every civilized, Christian country who have come to make America their home are each in possession of some distinctive excellence either not possessed at all by immigrants from other lands or in not so marked a degree. The best of each should therefore be scrupulously guarded as a sacred treasure, should be protected from extinction when the other elements of foreign nationality are lost, and should be contributed to the common fund of American culture, re- ligion, and citizenship, so that the civilization about to be evolved in America may become, under the providence of God, in its complexity and cosmopolitan character better than anything heretofore produced in history.

The people of the Augustana Synod owe it as a debt to their


children to hand over to them the good which they have themselves brought from overseas or have inherited from their Swedish- American fathers; they owe it to the Synod, under the influence of which rich spiritual blessings have come to themselves, to perpetuate that Synod; and they owe it to the American nation, as above indi- cated, under whose beneficent government and liberal institutions they have enjo} r ed and still enjoy inestimable privileges, to contribute to the character of American civilization all that which is best in Swedish Lutheran faith and church practice, which we firmly believe is represented by the Augustana Synod and its institutions of learning.


The oldest of the educational institutions of the Augustana Synod was founded, as above set forth, in 1860 under the name of Augustana Seminary and was first located in Chicago, Illinois. Prof. Lars Paul Esbjorn was made the first president. Twenty-one students were in attendance during its first year. It is interesting to note that from the very outset, though there was but one regular professor, instruc- tion was given in all the following subjects : Sacred History, Hebrew, Greek New Testament, Pastoral Theology, Homiletics, Symbolics, Church History, Dogmatics, English Grammar, Swedish Grammar, Norwegian Grammar, German, Logic, Latin, Khetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, History, and Geography. Five candidates for the ministry, who had completed a satisfactory theo- logical course at the seminary during its first year, were ordained in 1861.

Lincoln, “Language Question”

The Census of 1900 reports the presence in the United States of 574,625 persons whose native country is Sweden; 86,304 born in the United States of one Swedish parent, the other native; 998,538 born in the United States of Swedish born parents; in all 1,659,467 in- habitants of Swedish ancestry. The religious census of the Swedes in the United States is as follows:

Augustana Synod 163,473

Swedish Covenant, including Congregationalists and Free Church 46,000

Methodists .'. 20,500

Baptists 27,000

Other Swedish denominations (estimated) 6,000

Swedish members of English speaking churches outside of

Synod (estimated) 10,000

Sunday-school children (estimated) 150,000

Children under S'unday-school age (estimated) 35,000

Total 457,973

These figures can be only approximately correct, but will serve for illustration. Accepting- the estimate of 457,973 as the number of Swedes and their descendants in the United States who are affiliated with any church, and subtracting that sum from 1,659,467, the


number found by census enumerators in this country, we find that 1,201,494 Swedes are not taken up in any religious statistics, an astounding figure.

The process of creating a new nation in this country is steadily going on. It has a distinctive name, American. In characteristics it is unlike any other on earth. It consists not of any one people, but of many, gradually being made into one. The official language is English. That is the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which governs us. How English came to be the language of the land, is familiar to every school-boy. It was done through the right of possession. The commands to the Continental army were in English. The coming to our shores of different peoples after the revolution did not alter the situation. Consciously or un- consciously they were made Americans in heart and utterance. What- ever their mother tongue, they understood that the privileges of American citizenship were enhanced by a knowledge of the official language.

The American citizen is a new creation in the history of the world. He has no counterpart. From 1789 to 1908, 27,000,000 foreigners set- tled in America. One glance at them will tell us that they are made over. The American is a composite character. Here the nations of the world are thrown together to give and to take. The result is a combination of the best of what comes here and what is already here, blended under favorable conditions and matured in our atmosphere of freedom. You know how the model of a perfectly formed body is obtained. One man has the correct poise of the head; another, grace- ful body-lines; another, a well developed arm; another, a fine pair of shoulders ; and so the search is carried on, until by measurements and observations a form can be made, and in it is cast the figure of the


ideal physical man. The ideal American will be a combination of the good traits of the best people who settle here. Eventually we shall lose our former identity, but we shall find a new one. After a two years' residence in the United States, the Swedish emigrant cannot return to his native land without betraying some American char- acteristic.

We are also drifting towards a common language. The Swedish, German, Dutch, French, Hebrew, Eussian, etc., channels converge into English. As well try to hold roaring Niagara back with the palm of one's hand, as to prevent this change. One solitary argument is sufficient to substantiate this statement our compulsory education law. In New York State all children under 14 16 years of age must attend school 160 days each year, and there every branch is taught in English and, on top of them all, that language itself.

This phase of our national life presents a problem to the foreign people who have become citizens of the republic and are keeping up their own language. It concerns the Augustana Synod. The fact that the editor of this publication has invited a discussion of the question indicates that we see something coming. It is the problem of to-day to some extent, of a near-at-hand to-morrow to a greater extent. How soon we shall see that to-morrow we cannot say def- initely,, but the infallible signs of its approach are plain. Will the Synod read them ? Let us point out a few : In 1907 the immigra- tion from Sweden was 20,589, in 1908 only 12,809, an immense falling off from former years. A supreme effort is being made to discourage emigration, and it will be more or less successful. The Swedish language is now an optional study in our colleges, where it formerly was obligatory. A demand has been found for a Church paper, published in the English language, The Young Lutheran's Companion. The organization of English Lutheran churches upon Swedish fields. The need of instruction in the English language in our Swedish Sunday-schools. The gradual disappearance of the Swedish summer schools. The occasional English service in Swe- dish churches. The use of the English ritual at baptisms, marriages, and funerals. The difficulty to secure Sunday-school teachers in the cities, who know Swedish well enough to instruct children. The preference of English by our young people as a conversational medium. The prevalence of anglicisms in the sermons of a majority


of our younger pastors. The numerous applications by catechumens for instruction in English. The increasing number of intermar- riages. The apparent difficulty of the younger laymen to express themselves in Swedish at congregational business meetings, and the ease with which they do this in English. Such conditions are actually found in our Synod, in some localities more pronounced than in others. Even though some peculiar circumstances may have been for- gotten in the above recital, we feel that in the main the picture is true. That there are congregations, to which the description does not apply, only proves that the process is slower there than elsewhere. Time will make the change. Such is the situation after fifty years. Has there been an over-zealous anxiety for Swedish and tardiness in taking up English work, and have we lost thereby? We do know of a few instances of impatience with us for the slowness of transition into English work which have resulted in a severance of membership in our Synod, but they are exceptions. In most of such cases there have been other considerations. The history of the Augustana English congregations is both interesting and instructive. They have grown steadily but slowly. In the nature of things this is to be expected. Our English work must not be compared with the Swedish in results for at least a few years to come. The demand for it will not be sudden, it is gradual. There cannot be a phenomenal growth, such as the Swedish churches enjoyed when immigration was at its height. There is perhaps no Swedish church in the Augustana Synod which to-day could adopt the use of English entirely without sustaining a loss of membership and without crippling itself. Yet there are very few congregations, if any, where some English work, in a true and sensible proportion, would not bear good fruit. One danger to be avoided is precipitation. Hesitation and stagnation are equally fatal. General legislation is impossible. It is the unequivocal duty of each pastor to keep a sharp lookout upon the field entrusted to his care. He must grasp the opportunity and strike out at the right moment. The Synod seems to be agreed that the proper solution is the organiza- tion of independent English-speaking congregations under the super- vision of the mother church. One thing is certain, it must be an Augustana Church. An effort by other bodies will not succeed among the Swedes. As a nation we have our own temperamental character- istics, religiously and socially. So have others. They have inherited


them; so have we. What we have is a part of us. We also want an unbroken line of memories. I am not alone in giving expression to the hope that when the transition takes place, it may be in language only, without one other sacrifice than the mother tongue, and God knows that will be hard enough. Our liturgy, familiar to every Swede, our music, our hymns can be adopted. Then old and young will experience a home-like feeling in entering a new Augustana church. This need not be a blow at unity nor a reactionary attempt against present relationship with other Lutheran bodies. A time may come later, when a new liturgy can be compiled, which shall include features from the ones now in use and where all of us may find a reminder of home. To many this may seem puerile reasoning, but there are thousands in our Synod, to whom the language question presents no other solution. Our Book Concern has printed an edition of the Swedish liturgy translated into English. A beginning has been made to give us the Swedish hymns in English. We have literature enough for the beginning. Let us use it. A discouraging feature of literary work in the Augustana Synod is the hypercritical spirit, which manifests itself, and centers its attack mainly upon efforts in English. Augustana English is not bad ; it is as good as any. People understand it and it obeys the rules of grammar. Why there should be such violent criticism by our Swedish-American people of their own kind, is almost inexplicable. Away with it! It has become a bad habit.

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