Project Canterbury


Norwegian and English
Past and Present Relations





A paper read before the Scandinavian
Episcopal Church Association
and printed by request



Department of Missions and Church Extension
of the Episcopal Church
281 Fourth Avenue
New York City


Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

"IF the isolation of the English Church is to be broken down and communion to be established between her and any other national church abroad, there is no quarter to which she might more hopefully look than to the Scandinavian Churches." In these words an English Church review nearly thirty years ago summed up the conclusion which is shared by practically all students of the relation of the Anglican Communion to the rest of Christendom. (Church Quarterly Review, April, 1891, article entitled, "The Loss of the Succession in Denmark," also in Norway, valuable on the Danish-Norwegian Reformation). As far back as 1888 the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Episcopate declared it "much to be desired that a basis of union should be found with a people so distinguished by great devotional earnestness and uprightness of character." "The Churches of England and Scandinavia, if any, are faites pour se connaitre et s'aimer," is the verdict of a distinguished Anglican theologian, (Canon A. J. Mason in his English edition of the Danish Bishop Fredrik Nielsen's History of the Papacy in the Nineteenth Century).

The chief literary monument of this movement for better understanding and closer relations is the splendid volume on the National Church of Sweden by the late Bishop John Wordsworth of Salisbury, the importance of which may be [1/2] gathered from the fact that it has been translated into Swedish, with a highly laudatory introduction by Archbishop Nathan Söderblom of Upsala. Among the reviews of this work by Scandinavian scholars may be mentioned especially an extended and sympathetic discussion by Prof. O. Kolsrud of the Church History Department of the University of Christiana (Norwegian Church monthly, For Kirke og Kultur). With no lack of appreciation of the value of the Anglo-Swedish studies and approaches, it may be remarked that the comparative, in America well-nigh complete neglect by Anglican students and writers of the history of the Danish and Norwegian Churches and of the relation of the Church of Sweden to these Churches and to the Lutheran bodies in general, tends to put the subject in a distorted perspective. All who pray and labor for the reunion of Christendom rejoice in the definite steps taken by the last Lambeth Conference toward intercommunion with the Church of Sweden. It must not be forgotten by Anglican advocates of this particular approach toward unity, that, as Swedish Churchmen have repeatedly affirmed, no extension of the relationships of their Church to the Anglican or any other Communion can alter or affect its relation of equality and fellowship with the Scandinavian sister Churches. To quote one representative expression, written with particular reference to the Lambeth proposals: "It is impossible for us to regard orders conferred in non-episcopal churches as essentially different from our own, or the administration of sacraments in such churches as invalid on this ground. Nor could it occur to us not to recognize the true episcopal position of the Finlandian, Danish and Norwegian diocesans because their tactual succession has been broken." (Dr. Y. Brilioth, Church Quarterly Review, April, 1920.) This relationship of the Swedish Church to the Danish and Norwegian Churches is, then, one reason, of present practical import, why Anglican Churchmen should know something of the latter.

[3] Another reason for a wider knowledge of the Norwegian and Danish Churches as well as of the Swedish Church on the part of our clergy and laity alike is the presence in our country of a multitude of fellow Americans of all of the Scandinavian nationalities. In 1910 there were 979,099 persons in the United States of Norwegian birth or parentage as compared with a corresponding figure for the Swedes of 1,364,215. The Lutheran bodies which include most of those of both nationalities having Church affiliation, had in 1914 in the case of the Swedes (Augustana Synod) 265,052 baptized members; in the case of the Norwegian synods 538,383. (See Neighbors, Chap. V., by Dr. Hammarsköld). The number of Scandinavians, chiefly Swedes, in non-Lutheran Communions is estimated at less than 140,000. We hear a great deal, wise or otherwise, about "Americanization." One reason for not dwelling on this phase is that as Prof. A. E. Jenks, head of the Americanization Training Work of the University of Minnesota, once put it, speaking of the Scandinavian immigrants as a whole, "They need no Americanization." In efforts to make America safe for democracy, we can count on the unfailing support of fellow-citizens who retain the traditions of freedom of their ancient mothers. The scholarly Frenchman and Roman Catholic, Abbe Felix Klein but expressed the consensus of authoritative opinion when he declared, "Norway is emphatically the most democratic nation in all Europe." (Catholic-World, October, 1915). Not limiting his judgment to any continent, a noted American publicist left as his last contribution, the conviction, a result of world-wide experience, "The proper place for a Statue of Liberty with all the world to choose from, would be one of these bleak promontories on the west coast of Norway, jutting out into the sea toward England and America." (Price Collier, "Norway and the Norwegians from an American Point of View." Scribner's Magazine, October and November, 1914.)

[4] To Mr. Collier's affirmation about Norway that "no other country can compare in interest to the American," one might venture to couple a statement with respect to the Norwegian Church, that no other church can compare in interest to the Anglican, be he American or Briton. Here is one reason for this--we quote the English clergyman and life-long student and lover of things Norse, who has given us the only history in English of any considerable portion of Norwegian Church history (Dr. T. B. Willson, "History of the State and Church in Norway from the 10th to the 16th Century"): "The Church of Norway was the only daughter of that in England to be found in Europe. Her missionaries, it is true, labored in many parts of the continent, but in no country, except Norway, could it be said that they helped to found and nurture a Church where none existed before." (Italics ours).

But St. Ansgarius, "Apostle of Scandinavia," didn't come from England. Now far be it from our intention to detract in any measure from the glory justly due this noble herald of the Cross. But in fairness to the proportion of historic fact, it may be said that the prominence given his name in the American Episcopal Church tends to give those not familiar with the real history an exaggerated impression of the place of this saint in the conversion of the North. Thus most of the large Swedish parishes of our Church (as in Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, Providence) bear his name, also one of the chapels in the Cathedral in New York City. In this latter instance, as in his inclusion in the proposed calendar of "black letter" saints in the first report of the Prayer Book Commission, (1916) the intention presumably was to regard him as the representative of all Scandinavians. The Frankish missionary, St. Ansgar or Ansgarius did found the Church in Denmark, which after many vicissitudes, became permanent in that land. Also, to quote Dr. Hammarsköld, "Christianity was introduced into Sweden by St. Ansgarius, a monk of Corbey, and afterwards Archbishop of Hamburg. But the work of that [4/5] pioneer missionary in great part died with him." (Past and Present Relations between the Anglican Communion and the Church of Sweden, p. 3). Neither St. Ansgarius nor his successors of the See of Hamburg (later Bremen) had anything, directly or indirectly, to do with the introduction of Christianity into Norway and the founding of the Norwegian Church. He is unknown alike to history and legend.

Bishop Wordsworth, speaking of Sweden, remarks that "The Bremen mission had not become extinct, but it made little progress. Sweden needed other help, and it came to it, in a somewhat unexpected way, from England," and then goes on to say, "In order to understand the forward movement for the conversion of Sweden we must make acquaintance with two remarkable men, Olaf Tryggvason and Olaf Haraldson, Kings of Norway from whom the main impulse to the conversion came."

The first attempt to introduce Christianity in Norway was made by King Haakon the Good (935-961), son of Harald Fairhair, first king of the united nation. Haakon was fostered by King Athelstane of England, and, says the saga, "was a good Christian when he came to Norway." But the opposition by chiefs and people was too strong for him.

Greater success was met with by the first Olaf mentioned by Bishop Wordsworth, the son of Tryggve. After an adventurous youth as a Viking, he was converted in England. He was confirmed by Bishop Aelfhea (St. Alphege). On his homeward way he secured the acceptance of his new faith by the Norse earl and people of the Orkneys. Olaf's heroic figure lived long in song and story in the British Isles. His legend is one of the sources of the famous mediaeval tale of Havelock the Dane. Among the many missionaries that Olaf brought with him from England, the most prominent was the bishop of the king's guard, known in the Norse saga as Sigurd. In the words of an early source, "he was the foremost helper of the king to our soul's salvation, wherefore he has become [5/6] the apostle of all Norsemen." He is Longfellow's "Bishop Sigurd of Salten Fjord." Olaf reigned 995-1000.

In 1008, the first Christian king of Sweden Olof Skötkonung was baptized by St. Sigfried, as he is known in Swedish history, who is none other than Olaf Tryggvason's Bishop Sigurd. (Note the same change of name as in the Sigurd of the Völsunga Saga and the Sigfried of the Nibelungenlied). To quote Dr. Hammarsköld, "the real evangelization of Sweden is mainly due to Anglo-Saxon missionaries," and, (though in a less exclusive sense than is true of Norway) "the English Church is the real mother of the Church of Sweden." (Past and Present Relations, p. 8) St. Sigfried, who, rather than St. Ansgarius, may be regarded as the founder of the Swedish Church, has received recognition in the American Episcopal Church dedications, as far as we know, only in the Diocese of Minnesota (St. Paul and Cokato). The Church of England chaplaincy in Stockholm is the Church of St. Peter and St. Sigfried. Bishop Wordsworth's son born on St. Andrew's Day was christened Andrew Sigfried. A point for us to note here is that, as this author points out, "we cannot doubt that it was with Tryggvason's good will and very probably at his instigation that his Sigurd extended his labors to Sweden."

The Christianizing work of Olaf Tryggvason was continued and consummated by the second Olaf mentioned by Bishop Wordsworth, Olaf Haraldson (1016-1030), the Olaf of Norway, King and Martyr of the revised list in the 1919 report of the Prayer Book Commission. The date assigned him, July 29, is the day of his death in battle at Stiklestad, when in the language of the Norwegian national hymn he "painted, on the land, the cross with his blood." Like the older Olaf he was a Viking in his youth and likewise, as an old homily book puts it, "In England he took to believe in God." We cannot enter here into the details of his work of organizing the Church of his kingdom after the Anglo-Saxon model. [6/7] Like Tryggvason, St. Olaf brought missionaries from England. Adam of Bremen, the historian of St. Ansgarius' see, tells us that St. Olaf "had with him many bishops and priests from England, by whose admonition and doctrine he prepared his own heart to God, and to whose rule he also committed the people subject to him." The most prominent of these English missionaries was Bishop Grimkel, nephew of St. Sigfried. He was St. Olaf's chief aid in organizing the Church, and after the latter's death, took the lead in proclaiming his sainthood. Of St. Olaf, Carlyle, whose views on heroes are classic, wrote: "I have seldom met with better stuff to make a Saint of, or a true World-Hero in all good senses." (Early Kings of Norway). The legend and cult of St. Olaf spread far and wide, not only in Norway and its colonies, but in the rest of Scandinavia and throughout Europe. From Constantinople to Cornwall, churches were erected in his honor. His shrine in the Cathedral of Trondhjem (then called Nidaros), the greatest of Scandinavian churches, attracted pilgrims from near and far. The researches of scholars, Norwegian and others, have shown that St. Olaf was the first genuinely Pan-Scandinavian saint, and, with the exception of the much later St. Birgitta of Sweden, he was the only saint of Scandinavian origin to gain continent-wide prestige and veneration. His cult was especially popular in Sweden, where its survivals in folk-lore and custom seem to have been more enduring and wide-spread than even in his own Norway. The recent researches of a Danish historical scholar (Dr. Ellen Jörgensen) have revealed the fact that in medieval Denmark over a score of churches and other religious institutions were dedicated to St. Olaf, together with another almost startling fact, that not one bore the name of St. Ansgarius, the "apostle" of that country. The oldest extant liturgical office in St. Olaf's honor is found in a manuscript which belonged to the English Bishop Leofric. The only complete copy of the ecclesiastical legend of the [7/8] patron of Norway is in a manuscript now in Oxford; it formerly belonged to Fountains Abbey. Of the many churches in England bearing this saint's name, several of them being in London, the best known perhaps is St. Olave, Southwark, near the Thames. Near it is Tooley Street of "three tailors" and "we, the people of England" fame. Its name is a corruption of St. Olaf; as Carlyle muses, "Saint Olave Street, Saint Oley Street, Stooley Street, Tooley Street; such are the metamorphoses of human fame in the world."

Special mention should be made here of two works which are invaluable to students of the topic and period we are considering. One is the masterly monograph by Dr. Absalon Taranger, professor of law in the University of Christiania, entitled "The Influence of the Anglo-Saxon on the Norwegian Church," unfortunately not translated into English. It takes up particularly and in detail the work of St. Olaf and his English helpers as shown in the constitution, liturgy, calendar and language of the Norwegian Church. It is of present interest that this scholar, the foremost living authority on Norwegian church law, is a member of the executive committee of the World Conference Commission of the Church of Norway, and one of the delegates at the recent preliminary meeting in Geneva.

The other work referred to, dealing with the centuries after the Norman Conquest, is also a masterpiece of scholarly research, by an American student of comparative literature, Dr. Henry Goddard Leach, now secretary of the American-Scandinavian Foundation. It was originally a Harvard dissertation, announced for publication by the University Press under the title, "Literary Relations between England and Scandinavia, 1066-1399." The portion dealing more particularly with our present theme was printed in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1909, entitled, "Relations of the Norwegian with the English Church, 1066-1399." Dr. Leach is an Episcopal Churchman, as was his [8/9] Harvard master, the late Prof. W. H. Schofield, president of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

For the period covered by Dr. Leach's study, he finds, to give his own words, that "the relations of the clergy of Sweden and Denmark to England are slight indeed, and do not complicate the Anglo-Norwegian connection. These countries leaned upon Germany and at times upon France." Norway was placed under the metropolitan jurisdiction of Bremen, but the Norwegians stood in ill favor with the successors of St. Ansgarius for their continued dependence on England. For example, Harald Haardraade, half-brother of St. Olaf, persisted in the face of the injunction of the archbishop in having bishops consecrated in England. Among the English churchmen who came over in this reign was Asgaut, nephew of St. Olaf's Grimkel, who became the first bishop of Oslo (the present Christiania). The first bishop of Stavanger was an Englishman by name of Reinald. The Cathedral of that city was dedicated to the English St. Swithin. The seat of this diocese was removed to Christianssand in the seventeenth century. We are told that it is proposed to restore Stavanger as an episcopal residence. Another prominent English ecclesiastic was Bishop Martin of Bergen, chaplain of the renowned King Sverre, a ruler notable for two reasons, he had been ordained a priest and he was an early and indomitable champion of "the divine right of kings." St. Thomas a' Becket was one of the most popular of all saints among the Norwegians, many of whom made pilgrimages to his shrine at Canterbury. About him was composed one of the famous pieces of Old Norse literature, "Thomas Archbishop's Saga." What is believed to be the earliest portrayal of his martyrdom is on a reliquary from the Hedal church in Valdres, an interior valley of Norway (pictured in Dr. Willson's History). The foremost figure in the Norwegian Church in the middle ages, Archbishop Eystein (1161-1188), was a friend and admirer of St. Thomas. He spent three years in England and is the [9/10] author of the complete legend of St. Olaf spoken of above (Passio et miracula Beati Olavi, edited by F. Metcalfe). It was Eystein who began the building of the Trondhjem Cathedral. He brought architects and artisans from England. Of Norwegian ecclesiastical architecture in general a German authority gives this summary: "The Gothic style of Norway differs entirely from that of the other Scandinavian countries, being chiefly influenced by England, while Denmark and Sweden derive their architectural methods from Germany." (F. von Reber, History of Mediaeval Art.)

In 1102, all of Scandinavia was separated from the over-lordship of Bremen, and Lund, in southern Sweden (until the seventeenth century a part of the Danish kingdom), was raised to metropolitan dignity. Swedes and Norwegians both demurred at this arrangement. In 1152 Cardinal Nicholas Breakspeare was sent as papal legate to Norway, later also to Sweden. He established Trondhjem as an archepiscopal see, directly under Rome. Largely on account of his success in the North, he was soon made Pope under the name of Adrian IV, the only Englishman who has ever occupied the papal chair. The Norse saga says that "no foreigner ever came to Norway whom all regarded so highly. He promised to be always the best friend of the Norwegians. Men who came to Rome say that he never had so important engagements with others that he did not always meet with Norwegians first, when they wished to speak with him."

Under the jurisdiction of Trondhjem were placed not only the dioceses of Norway proper, but also of Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, the Orkneys and Shetland, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man. The historical background of these relations is an interesting phase of our present consideration. From Iceland, which had been colonized by Norwegian chiefs and their followers who refused to submit to the rule of Harald Fairhair, sailed Erik the Red, the discoverer and settler of Greenland, 985. That the Norwegians are no "newcomers" [10/11] on this continent, the following historical facts will indicate. We give a summary by Prof. R. B. Anderson of Madison, Wisconsin. "The first white man whose eyes beheld any part of the American continent was the Norseman Bjarne Herjulfson in the year 986. The first white man, who, to our certain knowledge, planted his feet on the soil of the American continent, was Leif Erikson, the son of Erik the Red, in the year 1000. The first white man and the first Christian who was buried beneath American sod was Leif 's brother Thorvald, in the year 1002. The first white woman who came to Vinland was Thorfinn Karlsefne's talented and enterprising wife, Gudrid. In the year 1008 she gave birth to a son in Vinland. The boy was called Snorre, and he was the first person of European descent to see the light of day in the New World. From the accounts of these voyages and settlements we get our first knowledge and description of the aborigines of America. In 1112 Erik Upse settled as bishop in Greenland, and 1121 this same bishop went on a missionary journey from Greenland to Vinland. This is the first visit of a Christian minister to the American continent." We may add as a propos to our theme, that it is pleasant to recall that Bishop Erik's faith had been received by his fathers, not much more than a century before, from England.

While the Scandinavian invaders and settlers in England were probably for the greater part Danish, that is, from Denmark, ("Danes" was used by English chroniclers indiscriminately for all Scandinavians), in Ireland and Scotland they were almost entirely Norwegians. This is admitted by Danish historians. Dublin, Waterford, Wexford and several other towns on the Irish coast were founded by them in the ninth century. (The "ford" here as elsewhere in the British Isles in the names of seacoast places is the Norse "fjord.") They were called by the native Irish the Gall, meaning foreigners, by the later Anglo-Norman conquerors, the Ostmen, that is men from the East. When the Norsemen in Ireland became [11/12] Christianized, they did not unite with the Irish church, but placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the Archbishops of Canterbury, by whom their bishops were consecrated from the time of the Norman conquest of England; William the Conqueror's Archbishop Lanfranc was the first primate of the English Church to exercise authority in Erin. The Norse part of Ireland was then ecclesiastically under England a century before the political conquest under Henry II. The Norse church in Dublin formed the first diocese in Ireland. It is well known that the old Celtic church did not have diocesan episcopacy. This Norwegian state and see came to play an important part in the two historic processes which went on together (such is the irony of history): the Romanizing of the Church and the Anglicizing of the government of Ireland. The two Cathedrals of Dublin from the Middle Ages are memorials of this unique situation. Christ Church was Norse, St. Patrick's Irish. Both have been Anglican since the Reformation. Christ Church was named after Canterbury Cathedral, as was also the Cathedral of Trondhjem. This name was given to mediaeval churches only in England, Norway and the Norwegian colonies.

Shetland, whither settlers came from Norway perhaps as early as the year 700, and the Orkneys, which were completely colonized by Norwegians in the ninth and tenth centuries, were made into an earldom under the Norwegian Crown by Harald Fairhair in 875. Later were added the adjacent districts of Caithness (Norse Katanes) and Sutherland (i. e., the land south of Orkney). This earldom remained a dependency of Norway until 1468. The history of its forfeiture is a curious story. A Norse dialect, "Norn" was spoken in Shetland as late as the end of the eighteenth century. (Readers of Sir Walter Scott will recall the scene and plot of "The Pirate"). The diocese of Orkney, as has already been mentioned, was subject to the Archbishop of Trondhjem. Its old Norse Cathedral St. [12/13] Magnus', Kirkwall, enjoys the distinction of being the only pre-Reformation Scottish cathedral which exists whole and entire to the present day. In 1472 the Bishop of Orkney was made a suffragan of St. Andrew's.

The Hebrides, so completely occupied by a Norwegian population that they were called in Gaelic the Innsi Gall (foreigner's isles), were virtually independent under their own Norse chiefs until 1093, when King Magnus Barelegs (so called from his adopting kilts) subjected them to the Crown of Norway. Though the islands were ceded to the Scottish Crown in 1266, the Scots continued to pay tribute to Norway till 1468. The Hebrides and the Isle of Man, forming one diocese, remained under the Norwegian metropolitan till in 1458, Man was transferred to the jurisdiction of York, in 1472 the Hebrides to St. Andrews. Of the Norwegian occupation of the Isle of Man, we cannot speak at length here; suffice it to bring to mind that striking and splendid survival of the old Norse time, the seat of Man homerule to this day, the Tynwald Court, its very name a memorial of the thing or popular assembly (Compare the modern Norwegian Storthing or Great Court). Though the Hebrides are now a part of Scotland, ecclesiastically as well as politically, the English diocese in the Isle of Man is still Sodor and Man. The first word of this title is a memorial of the old relation; it is the Old Norse Sudreyar, the southern isles, in contrast to the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland.

"The dark ages" of Norway's history are roughly the four hundred years from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, the period of political and cultural subjection to Denmark and German economic and commercial domination. The mid-night hour struck in the sixteenth century when by one and the same royal mandate the ancient offices and rights of the Church were abolished and the last vestige of national self-government was destroyed. The old Church stood for the freedom of Norway. Thus a living Norwegian [13/14] historian (Prof. O. A. Johnsen of the University of Christiania) can hail "the Catholic clergy, the last upholder of our fatherland's ancient independence." The king put "superintendents" in the several episcopal sees, in Norway as in Denmark. Their successors have been given the title of Bishop, and, as we have pointed out, are recognized by the Swedish episcopate as its equals in dignity and authority. The lowest scum of the clergy was sent to Norway by the authorities in Denmark. In the words of a noted Norwegian-American scholar, (Prof. H. H. Boyesen) , "ex-soldiers, ex-sailors, bankrupt traders, all sorts of vagabonds, who were in some way disqualified for making a living, were thought to be good enough to preach the word of God in Norway." To bring out the relation between the decadence of Norwegian civilization and our theme, we cannot do better than to quote from a leading Norwegian journalist of today (Mons M. Mjelde, editor of Verdens Gang, Christiania) . "As long as we kept our connection with the western countries and received our intellectual impulses from them, Norway was powerful and flourishing. It is true we received the Reformation from Germany, but if the German Hanseates had not destroyed us economically and thereby made us unable for a long time to continue our relations with Britain, we should probably have received the Reformation from England and perhaps participated in the religious as well as the political freedom by which it was followed there. In the circumstances, the Reformation from Germany by royal Danish decree was followed by an even deeper national degradation, Norway losing almost all her institutions as a separate kingdom. Anglicism and Gallicism gave us back, little by little, all that we had lost. Economically, intellectually and politically they restored Norway. They gave our merchants new wealth, our authors new ideas, our nation new political freedom. The sound instinct of the Norwegian people has never forgotten--nor will it ever forget--the great intellectual Gulfstream from the West." ("Norway and Germanism," Contemporary Review, November, 1915). [14/15] "Anglicism," this Norwegian says, (let us trust that he could say the same of Anglicanism) "is never boisterous and intruding. It does not suppress, it elevates and liberates."

A notable example of the influence of English impulses on Norwegian and general Scandinavian intellectual and spiritual life is seen in the foundation of modern Norwegian and Danish literature by the Norwegian Ludvig Holberg, who studied at Oxford (See S. C. Hammer, Ludvig Holberg, The Founder of Norwegian Literature and an Oxford Student, Oxford 1920). In the early part of the nineteenth century, the English impulses, which had begun with Holberg, were revived by Norway's greatest lyrical poet, great too as a patriot and lover of mankind, Henrik Wergeland, whom the incumbent (IIlit Gröndahl) of the recently established lectureship in Norwegian at University College, London, made the subject of his opening address.

The similarity in temperament and character between the Norwegian and English (in some respects also the Scottish) peoples has often been noted. A Swedish-American author characterizes the Norwegians as "the Englishmen of the North" (History of the Scandinavians in the United States by O. N. Nelson, Minneapolis, Minn.). A Norwegian poet in the eighteenth century (J. H. Wessel) gave as an outstanding trait of his countrymen, with exaggeration permitted by poetic license, but undoubtedly with basis in fact, that they believed that real human folk were born only in their own native land and in England. The Anglophile tendency, or as a critic might call it in plain English, prejudice, is a conspicuous feature of much Norwegian historical writing. According to Prof. Taranger, "He is a Norwegian," in the mouth of a foreign critic means "he is a fanatic for things English." On the chapter of Church history which has especially concerned us here, a Danish historian (A. D. Jörgensen) observed, [15/16] "It seems an article of faith with Scandinavian writers that it must be reckoned as a kind of ecclesiastical nobility to have stood in connection with England and it is a much humbler state to have received Christianity from Germany; the Norwegians in particular find in this a great pre-eminence for their ancestors in contrast to the Danes." A prominent clergyman of the capital of Norway, in an article which just comes to hand, dealing with important phases of the present Anglo-Norwegian religious connections, tells us that "as the sympathy between the British and the Norwegian nations and the kinship between British and Norwegian ideals and modes of thought are on the whole unmistakable and during the last generation increasing, so neither can it be denied that since the world war or as a result of it, this sympathy and this kinship appear more clearly than ever." (Mikael Hertzberg, Church Quarterly Review, July, 1920).

This renewed and intensified feeling of friendship between Norway and Britain goes hand in hand with another dominant feature of modern Norwegian life, the nationalistic cultural renaissance. Like other movements of a like character, the latter revival has perhaps its fantastic, some would say fanatical elements. But it is the expression of a fundamentally sound emphasis on the value of the nation's literary, artistic and religious selfhood. In view of Norway's historical experience which we have indicated, it is not surprising that there should be a looking back to the age of Norway's glory in the past, the Middle Ages, its Old Norse language and art forms and, too, religious life. If, as has been said, to be Catholic is to think in terms of nineteen centuries of Christian history, not four, then the Norse renaissance may be called a Catholic revival. Uppermost is the idea of the continuity of the nation and of the National Church. It is still the Church of St. Olaf. The resentment an Anglican feels when told that Henry VIII founded the Church of England is nothing compared to the reaction of a Norwegian if anyone ventured to tell him that [16/17] the "Church Ordinance" of Christian III in 1537 made a new Church in Norway or unmade the old one. Among the outward expressions of this mediaeval revival is the recent church legislation by which the episcopal sees are given back their Old Norse pre-Reformation names. Thus the diocese of Christiania is again Oslo, Trondhjem is Nidaros, Bergen is Björgvin, etc. The word for diocese, the Danish stift, has been changed to bispedomme (bishopric).

On a phase of the question of visible Christian unity considered vital by many minds, the following words of Pastor Hertzberg are to be noted. "It is connection with the holy universal Church tradition which above all is our concern--the firm holy bond which leads us right back to the Apostles' days and unites us, so to speak, personally with them. It is thus a spiritual connection with our Lord's own Apostles, symbolized outwardly by the Apostolic Succession, as we possess spiritual connection with the Lord Himself through the outward symbols of the Lord's Supper. If the first be called formalism, take care lest the second does not come under the same criticism!" (The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence would be classed by Anglicans of all schools as "High Church.") Pastor Hertzberg concludes: "In order to give this direct apostolic connection its recognizable expression--clear and significant for all--we desire in our Evangelical Church to take possession of the successio apostolica as the Anglican and Swedish Churches are so fortunate as to possess it. May this come to pass among us!" This is not the isolated opinion of one man. The late Bishop Otto Jensen, whose name is familiar to every student of contemporary Church life in Norway, said to the author of the above words: "You have uttered aloud what we all think and desire in our hearts, but have not the courage to say."

On a prominent square near the centre of Norway's capital stands the Anglican Church of St. Edmund and St. Olave, sometimes referred to by inhabitants of the city as "Queen [17/18] Maud's Church," in remembrance of that royal lady's position as an English princess (sister of King George) reared in the Anglican Church. St. Edmund's also reminds the Norwegian people that their own national Church, like their beloved queen, is, as one of their own great historians (Rudolf Keyser) has said in a now classic utterance, "wholly (in Norwegian idiom, hel og holden) a daughter of the English Church." Haakon and Olaf, the names assumed for himself and his heir, by the popularly elected and universally revered king of this most democratic of nations, bring to the Norseman 's mind the great kings of old time, mighty chieftains of valiant freemen; then as he turns again the pages of Snorri's Heimskringla, together with the Book of Books, the pearl of great price in the humblest cottager's household treasure, and reads in the saga about Haakon and Athelstane, the Olafs and Sigurd and Grimkel, his thought turns, with affection and gratitude, across the North Sea to Albion's Isle, to the land and the Church whence the messengers of the White Christ brought the Gospel of the Cross to the home of the Vikings. The Norwegian Church might well use the very words of the American Book of Common Prayer in expressing her age-long friendship for the Church of England, to which she, like "the Protestant Episcopal Church in these States, is indebted, under God, for her first foundation and a long continuance of nursing care and protection."


Copies of this leaflet may be obtained from the Secretary for Foreign-born Americans, Church Missions House, 281 Fourth Avenue, New York, N. Y., by asking for No. 1524. Price, ten cents.

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