1877–1970

Introduction

Born: No­vem­ber 8, 1877, Mo­berg, Den­mark.

Died: June 22, 1970, Min­ne­a­po­lis, Min­ne­so­ta.

Buried: Sun­set Me­mo­ri­al Park, Min­ne­a­po­lis, Min­ne­so­ta.

portrait

Biography

Jens was the hus­band of Else Ka­tri­na Raun.

He em­i­grat­ed to Am­er­i­ca in 1901 and went to the small, close-knit Da­nish-Am­er­i­can com­mun­i­ty in Min­ne­a­po­lis, Min­ne­so­ta, to join his bro­ther, who was 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 (1904–08), Jens was or­dained in the Da­nish Ev­an­ge­li­cal Lu­ther­an Church in Am­er­i­ca.

He served pas­tor­ates in Mar­i­nette, Wis­con­sin; St. Pe­ter’s Lu­ther­an Church, Dwight, Il­li­nois (1912–26); and St. Pe­der’s Lu­ther­an Church, Min­ne­a­po­lis. Unt­il re­tir­ing in 1946, Aab­erg con­tin­ued as pas­tor of St. Pe­der’s.

Over the years he held var­i­ous of­fic­es through­out the Da­nish Ev­an­ge­li­cal Lu­ther­an Church, and for years af­ter re­tir­ing served a ser­ies of con­gre­ga­tions as an in­ter­im pas­tor.

Aaberg trans­lat­ed num­er­ous hymns and songs from Da­nish to Eng­lish, and served on com­mit­tees that com­piled sev­er­al Lu­ther­an hym­nals. In 1947, he was hon­ored with the Knight Cross of Den­mark from King Fred­er­ick for ser­vice to Da­nish-Am­er­i­cans.

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. 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 it. 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, liv­ing con­gre­ga­tions, the Da­nish-Am­er­i­can church must start us­ing 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.

So he be­gan cre­at­ing and pub­lish­ing trans­la­tions. A trans­la­tion com­mit­tee was formed by of Aa­berg and three oth­er like-mind­ed pas­tors. They met some op­po­si­tion and un­hap­pi­ness: Some felt trans­lat­ing hymns to Eng­lish would hast­en the day when 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.

Publications

Sources

Lyrics

Translations

Help Needed

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