Grundtvig, Nicolai Frederik Severin

Grundtvig, Nicolai Frederik Severin "the prophet of the North," was born September 8, 1783, at Udby, a village in the island of Zealand. He studied theology at Copenhagen, was tutor in a private family in the island of Langeland from 1805 to 1808, teacher of history in a school at Copenhagen from 1808 to 1810, vicar to his father at Udby from 1810 to 1813, and again teacher at Copenhagen from 1813 to 1821. During those years of his youth and early manhood- he lived like a monk, without being monkish. He only slept two hours, and for twenty years never in a bed. Before he was appointed to his pastorate, Grundtvig had already become known in the literary circles of his country. His earliest literary efforts were the Teaching of Asa, the Songs of the Edda, and Religion and Liturgy. From 1809 to 1822 he published a series of poetical and historical works — Nordens Mythologie (1808); Optrin af Kampelivets Undergang i Nord (i.e., Fall of Heathenism in the North, a grand drama, 1809), and the translations of Saxo Grammaticus (1818-22, 6 volumes), Snorre Sturlesou, and Beowulf's Drupa — almost of them referring to the heroic age of Scandinavian history, and all of them pregnant with a peculiarly stirring life. But his theological productions, also his sermons, more especially his Kort Begreb af Verdens Kronzike i Sammenhang, i.e., View of the World's Chronicle (1812), attracted equal attention, as they ran out in a vehement denunciation of the frivolity with-

which the age had eliminated Christianity from its life. Attracted by the genius of Grundtvig, king Frederick VI, without consulting either the bishop or the consistory, appointed him pastor in Praestoe (a small town in Zealand), and in the next year he was called to the chaplaincy at the Church of our Saviour in Copenhagen. There he soon gathered a circle of friends and pupils around his pulpit, and day by day his position in the Danish Church became more and more strongly marked. In 1825 professor H.N. Clauseni (q.v.), a rationalist, published his Katholicismens og Protestantismens Kirkeforfatning, Lare og Ritus (i.e., Church Government, Teaching, and Rites of Catholicism and Protestantism), and Gruindtvig answered with his Kirkens Gjenmale (i.e., Protest of the Church), in which he requested Clausen either to renounce his heresy or to give up his professorship. Within eight days, Grundtvig's Protest was three times reprinted. Clausen instituted a civil suit; Grundtvig was sentenced to pay a fine, and to publish nothing without permission of the royal censor. In 1826 he resigned his office, because he did not wish to serve a Church which seemed to give up the faith and the confession of the fathers. To this period belongs his interesting work, My Literary Testament. From 1826 to 1839 Grundtvig lived in literary retirement at Copenhagen. From 1829 to 1831 he visited England, edited a theological monthly, Theologisk Maanedsskrift; published the Sang-Vark til den dansko Kirke (1837; new editions, 1870-75), a collection of hymns, partly original, partly translated. Meanwhile his influence spread far beyond the capital, and the "Grundtvigians'" and "Grundtvigianism" increased from day to day. He was allowed to preach in the afternoon in the German Frederiks' Church, and the number of his adherents grew more and more. In 1839 he was pastor of the Varton-hospital-Church, and there he remained till his death, which took place September 2, 1872. His party made itself especially felt in 1848, and brought about those liberties in church and school which in some cases were detrimental to religion. See Hansen, Wesen und Bedeutung des Grundtvigianismus (Kiel, 1863); Lutke, Kirchliche Zustande in den Skandinavischen Landern (Elberfeld, 1864); Pry, N.F.S. Grundtvif, Biographisk Skizze (Copenhagen, 1871); Kaftan, Grundtvig, des Prophet des Nordens (Basle, 1876); Lichtenberger, Encyclop. des Sciences- Religienses, s.v., Plitt-Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v. (B.P.)

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