N.F.S. Grundtvig : An Introduction to His Life and Work

A. M. Allchin, Foreword by Nicholas Lossky

This volume introduces N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) to the English-speaking world. He was a prominent clergyman and poet in the Danish golden age of Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard. Within his small country, Grundtvigs sermons and hymns fostered a spiritual and national awakening from which modern Denmark arose. His hymns are still sung today, retaining an influence despite his near-anonymity. The book begins with an overview of Grundtvigs long and varied life, concentrating on the critical moments of his spiritual development that led him to a theology of inner unity and greater confidence. The second part of the book looks at the presentation of the Christian faith in Grundtvigs writings. At its centre is Grundtvigs belief in a cheerful, simple, active life on Earth, and the application of Christian tenets to everyday life, social and political as well as personal. His sermons and hymns, while necessarily Western in form, were constantly coloured by insights from the joyous liturgy of the Christian East. Unexpectedly, his work has strong ecumenical implications, especially in the place he gives women, and Mary in particular, in the Christian scheme of things. Finally, Allchin restores the essence of Grundtvigs sermons and hymns organized for the Christian year. The early-19th century was a time of independence and nationalism. By echoing Danish legends, proverbs and myths, Grundtvig coloured his faith to touch the heart, the will and the imagination of his countrymen.