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  • Dawnlight Breaks:The Hymn Texts and Translations of F. Samuel Janzow by David W. Rogner
  • Robin Gehl
Dawnlight Breaks:The Hymn Texts and Translations of F. Samuel Janzow. By David W. Rogner. Minneapolis: University Lutheran Press, 2014. 195pp.

An ordained Lutheran minister with a Ph.D. in literary studies, F. Samuel Janzow (1913–2001) served as pastor-poet throughout an extensive career. He shepherded parishes as well as taught English for more than a quarter century at Concordia University Chicago, then known as Concordia College, River Forest. David W. Rogner, Distinguished Professor of English at the same university, offers an insightful appraisal of Janzow’s contributions to Lutheran hymnody, including his English translations of all thirty-seven hymn texts by [End Page 444] Martin Luther, as well as texts by other German hymn writers. The book also incorporates Janzow’s Psalm paraphrases and original hymn texts. The book is the fifth in a series of monographs published under the auspices of the Center for Church Music, Concordia University Chicago, highlighting persons, movements, and events which have helped shape the course of church music among Lutherans in North America.

Janzow drew from his pastoral and academic experiences when he concentrated on hymn writing later in his career. The son of a Lutheran pastor, Janzow grew up in Minnesota and attended Concordia, Saint Paul, for high school and junior college, and then graduated from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, in 1936. He first served as pastor in pre-World War II London, at Luther-Tyndale Church. The senior pastor, a native German, returned to visit Germany just before Hitler invaded Poland and was not allowed to return. Young Janzow had to guide the congregation through the London blitz and the entirety of the war. Returning to the United States in 1947, he completed a master’s degree in English at the University of Minnesota, served a parish in Trimont, Minnesota, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, completing a dissertation on the British author Thomas DeQuincey.

Rogner aims to preserve Janzow’s texts, both original and translated, and encourages their continued use by clergy, church musicians, and anyone interested in hymnody and devotional texts. Rogner offers an excellent analysis of stylistic features of Janzow’s texts and explains the challenges of hymn text translation and creation. In particular, the German language rarely translates word for word. Rogner also shares insight on the hymn selection process for hymnals, observing that some texts simply read better than sing. Rogner includes a helpful annotated listing of all of Janzow’s translations and suggests hymn tune options for his original texts. Rogner remarks that Janzow emphasized both “Scriptural faithfulness and poetic excellence” in his hymn writing in which the “poet and pastor worked together to craft beautiful expressions of the grace of God” (17). [End Page 445]

Robin Gehl
Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minnesota


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