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It is gratifying to know that the spirit of hymnody is not dead, and that still today consecrated men and women are being inspired to “sing new songs unto Jehovah,” In Milwaukee, Wis., lives a young woman who for several years has been attracting wide-spread attention by her Christian lyrics. Her name is Anna Hoppe, and the hymns she writes suggest strongly something of the style and spirit of the Lutheran hymns of a by-gone age.

Born of German parents in Milwaukee in 1889, she began to write verse in early childhood. Most of them were on patriotic themes, such as Washington, Lincoln, The Battle of Gettysburg, and Paul Jones.

“At the age of about eleven,” Miss Hoppe tells us, “I wrote a few lines on Angels.”

It was at the age of twenty-five years, however, that she began in earnest the writing of spiritual poetry. Many of her poems were published in religious periodicals and aroused much interest. In the hymnal of the Augustana Synod, published in 1925, twenty-three of her hymns were included. Since that time a collection of her hymns under the title, “Songs of the Church Year,” has appeared. In 1930 eight of her lyrics were published in the “American Lutheran Hymnal.”

As a prolific writer of hymns, Miss Hoppe probably has no equal in the Lutheran Church today. Her unusual talent seems all the more remarkable when it is known that she is practically self-educated. After she had finished the eighth grade in the Milwaukee public schools, she entered a business office. Since that time she has worked continuously, 458 and has received the benefit of only a few months’ training at evening schools. At present she is employed in the office of the Westinghouse Company.

Her hymns are composed in the midst of the stress and hurry of modern life.

“Many of my hymns,” she writes, “have been written on my way to and from church, and to and from work. I utilize my lunch hours for typing the hymns and keeping up correspondence. I used to do quite a bit of writing on Sunday afternoons, but now we have a Layman’s Hour in our church at that time, and I do not like to miss it. I also attend our Fundamentalist Bible lectures, Jewish mission meetings, and the like. Still I find a minute here and there in which to jot down some verse.”

Although few of Miss Hoppe’s hymns rise to heights of poetic rapture, they are characterized by a warmth of feeling and fervency of spirit that make them true lyrics. They are thoroughly Scriptural in language, although they sometimes become too dogmatic in phraseology. A deep certainty of faith, however, breathes through their lines and saves them from becoming prosaic.

One of her most beautiful hymns is for New Year’s. Its opening stanza reads:

Jesus, O precious Name,

By heaven’s herald spoken,

Jesus, O holy Name,

Of love divine the token.

Jesus, in Thy dear Name

This new year we begin;

Bless Thou its opening door,

Inscribe Thy Name within.

A hymn for Epiphany reflects something of the same spirit of adoration:


Desire of every nation,

Light of the Gentiles, Thou!

In fervent adoration

Before Thy throne we bow;

Our hearts and tongues adore Thee,

Blest Dayspring from the skies.

Like incense sweet before Thee,

Permit our songs to rise.

The final stanza of her Ascension hymn is full of poetic fire:

Ascend, dear Lord!

Thou Lamb for sinners slain,

Thou blest High Priest, ascend!

O King of kings, in righteousness e’er reign,

Thy kingdom hath no end.

Thy ransomed host on earth rejoices,

While angels lift in song their voices.

Ascend, dear Lord!

Her fidelity to Scriptural language may be seen in the following simple verses:

Have ye heard the invitation,

Sinners ruined by the fall?

Famished souls who seek salvation,

Have ye heard the loving call?

Hark! a herald of the Father

Bids you of His supper taste.

Round the sacred table gather;

All is ready; sinners, haste!

O ye chosen, have ye slighted

This sweet call to you proclaimed?

Lo! the King hath now invited

All the halt, the blind, the maimed:

Come, ye poor from out the highways,

Come, a feast awaits you, come!

Leave the hedges and the byways,

Hasten to the Father’s home.


We have heard Thee call, dear Father,

In Thy Word and sacrament;

Round Thy festal board we’ll gather

Till our life’s last day is spent.

Ours the risen Saviour’s merit,

Ours the bounties of Thy love,

Ours Thy peace, till we inherit

Endless life in heaven above.

Miss Hoppe speaks in glowing terms of the spiritual impressions received in childhood from pious parents and a consecrated pastor, the sainted John Bading, who both baptized and confirmed her. Her father died in 1910.

“He was a very pious Lutheran,” she writes, “and so is mother. They often spoke of afternoon prayer meetings they attended in Germany.”

Some of her hymns not already mentioned are, “By nature deaf to things divine,” “Heavenly Sower, Thou hast scattered,” “How blest are they who through the power,” “Lord Jesus Christ, the children’s Friend,” “O dear Redeemer, crucified,” “O precious Saviour, heal and bless,” “O’er Jerusalem Thou weepest,” “Precious Child, so sweetly sleeping,” “Repent, the Kingdom draweth nigh,” “The Sower goeth forth to sow,” “Thou camest down from heaven on high,” “Thou hast indeed made manifest,” “Thou Lord of life and death,” “Thou virgin-born incarnate Word,” “O Lord, my God, Thy holy law,” “Jesus, Thine unbounded love,” “He did not die in vain,” “I open wide the portals of my heart,” “Rise, my soul, to watch and pray,” “O joyful message, sent from heaven,” “O Thou who once in Galilee,” and “Thou goest to Jerusalem.” She is the translator of “O precious thought! some day the mist shall vanish,” a hymn from the Swedish, as well as some eighty gems 461 from German hymnody. Thirty-two of her German translations appeared in “The Selah Song Book,” edited by Adolf T. Hanser in 1922.

Many of Miss Hoppe’s hymns have been written on the pericopes of the Church Year. She has consistently refused to have her hymns copyrighted, believing that no hindrance should be put in the way of any one who desires to use them.

Up to 1930 nearly 400 hymns had appeared from Miss Hoppe’s pen. Her ambition is to write a thousand original Christian lyrics.

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