J. C. Aaberg

Minister in the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


November 8, 1877
AD 1970
Related topics
Criticism, interpretation, etc., Hymns, Danish, Translations,


Picture of J. C. Aaberg
Image Source: hymntime.com/tch

Aaberg em­i­grat­ed to Amer­i­ca in 1901 and went to the small, close-knit Dan­ish-Amer­i­can com­mun­ity in Min­ne­a­po­lis, Min­ne­so­ta, to join his bro­ther, who was then stu­dy­ing for the min­is­try at Aug­sburg Coll­ege and Sem­in­a­ry. Af­ter at­tend­ing St. Ans­gar’s Coll­ege, and Grand View Coll­ege and Sem­in­ary in Des Moines, Io­wa (1904-1908), he was or­dained in the Dan­ish Evan­gel­i­cal Lu­ther­an Church in Amer­i­ca. He pas­tored in Mar­in­ette, Wis­con­sin; St. Peter’s Lu­ther­an Church, Dwight, Il­li­nois (1912-1926); and St. Pe­der’s Lu­ther­an Church, Min­ne­a­po­lis. Un­til re­tir­ing in 1946, Aa­berg con­tin­ued to serve as pas­tor of St. Pe­der’s. Over the years he held var­i­ous of­fic­es through­out the Dan­ish Evan­gel­ic­al Lu­ther­an Church in Amer­i­ca, and for years af­ter his re­tire­ment served a ser­ies of con­gre­ga­tions around the coun­try as an in­ter­im pas­tor. In 1947 he was hon­ored with the Knight Cross of Den­mark from King Fred­er­ick for ser­vice to Dan­ish-Amer­i­cans.

Aaberg trans­lat­ed some 80 hymns and songs from Dan­ish to Eng­lish, and served on com­mit­tees which com­piled sev­er­al Lu­ther­an hymn­als. He be­gan trans­lat­ing hymns in ear­nest af­ter an in­ci­dent that oc­curred while he was in Mar­in­ette. A Lu­ther­an bi­shop from Den­mark at­tend­ed church there one Sun­day on a trip to Amer­i­ca. In hon­or of his vi­sit, the Mar­in­ette con­gre­ga­tion held a spe­cial fes­tiv­al wor­ship ser­vice. Af­ter the ser­vice, Aa­berg asked the bi­shop what he thought of the ser­vice this lit­tle con­gre­ga­tion had just held. The bi­shop re­plied, "It was so won­der­ful. It re­mind­ed me of the way church ser­vices were in Den­mark 50 years ago." That com­ment, meant as a com­pliment, stirred Aa­berg. He con­clude­d that to be vi­tal and liv­ing Christ­ian con­gre­ga­tions, the Dan­ish-Amer­i­can Lu­ther­an Church must be­gin to use the lan­guage of Amer­i­ca, Eng­lish. Stay­ing strict­ly with Dan­ish, he be­lieved, the church would be­come an ev­er more iso­lat­ed back­wa­ter of nos­tal­gia for the past. He began the work of cre­at­ing and pub­lish­ing trans­la­tions. A hymn trans­la­tion com­mit­tee was formed, con­sis­ting of Aa­berg and three other like-mind­ed pas­tors. They met some op­po­si­tion and un­hap­pi­ness to­ward their trans­lat­ing work. Some with­in the church felt that by trans­lat­ing these hymns to Eng­lish, the trans­lat­ors were has­ten­ing the day when the Dan­ish Lu­ther­an tra­di­tions would be lost. But the work went for­ward, through the years be­tween the World Wars, un­til most of the trea­sured hymns had been trans­lat­ed to Eng­lish.

-- hymntime.com/tch

Works By J. C. Aaberg

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