Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Something's lost in translation

I've apparently blogged about this wonderful CD from Concordia before--at least I had the photo in my file. It's the text and music of Luther's Small Catechism narrated by Rev. Dr. Ken Schurb (1986). When we joined UALC in 1976, they weren't using the regular small catechism for adults--and I don't think that my kids got one either when they were confirmed in the early 80s. But now I have a nice hard bound copy. The explanations of the 10 commandments, the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the sacraments are really amazing--and he intended the explanation for fathers to teach their children and other family members. It is by far the clearest summary of Christian faith I've ever read, and I've seen a lot of Christian books--most full of "me, my, mine and myself."

What is interesting is that older translations from German to English read:
    “The Simple Way a Father Should Present it to his Household “
    but the modern English reads
    “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.”
Similar but not the same. Today, a head of the family could be a single mother--widowed, divorced, never married--or grandparent or foster parent, or anyone designated "head" in the census. But I don't think that's the one Luther meant--he meant fathers, not priests, not the church, not the Sunday School teacher, have the God given responsibility to train up the child. In 1529 many people didn't know how to read, and even some of the priests were barely literate.

I've been using this disc on my walks--the question/answer format of the catechism and the wonderful hymns keep it from getting boring. I believe Luther wrote all the hymns on the CD, although I'm not sure about the tunes. "These are the Holy Ten Commands" was written before the catechism in 1524. He even versified the Nicene Creed--not an easy task. "Our Father, Who from Heaven Above" was written in 1539, and the hymn about our Lor'd baptism "To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord" in 1541. We saw the River Jordan on our recent trip to the Holy Land.
    "These truths on Jordan's banks were shown
    By mighty word and wonder.
    The Father's voice from Heav'n came down.
    Which we do well to ponder
    "This man is My beloved Son,
    In whom My heart has pleasure,
    Him you must hear, and Him alone,
    And trust in fullest measure
    The word that He has spoken"

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