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Vajda To Be Honored at Concordia Seminary Epiphany Celebration

Rev. Jaroslav J. Vajda, retired Lutheran pastor and renowned hymn writer, will be honored at Concordia Seminary’s Epiphany Celebration on Jan. 14, 2007. Vajda will be awarded the honorary doctor of letters degree in recognition of his many years of exceptional service to the Lutheran church. His hymns will be the focus of this year’s Epiphany Celebration.

“Few hymn writers are able to draw into a few stanzas such a rich constellation of biblical words and concepts as Dr. Vajda,” commented Dr. James Brauer, dean of the chapel at Concordia Seminary. “Yet, his seemingly ordinary words touch and move the singer toward trusting in Jesus and serving God. His texts are a great gift to the church.”

With over 200 hymn texts to his credit, Vajda is considered one of the world’s best contemporary hymn writers. He first came to prominence as a hymn writer when his text “Now the Silence” appeared in Worship Supplement (1969). Since then, his hymns have appeared in over 30 hymnals in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Having translated texts, particularly Slovak, and written his own original and unique hymns, Vajda is a major contributor to the contemporary hymnody of the Lutheran church.

Vajda received the bachelor of arts (1941) and bachelor of divinity (1944) degrees from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He served as pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Cranesville, Pa. (1945-1949); pastor at Our Blessed Savior Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Ind. (1949-1953); pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, Bracken-ridge, Pa. (1953-1963); assistant pastor at St. Lucas Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Mo. (1963-1976); editor of This Day magazine (1963-1971); and book editor and developer for Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo. (1971-1986). He also was editor of The Lutheran Beacon, published by the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches; member of the Commission on Worship of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, which prepared Worship Supplement (1969); and member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, which prepared Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

Additionally, Vajda was listed in Who’s Who in the Midwest in 1968 and in Who’s Who in Religion in 1978; was made a Fellow of The Hymn Society of America in 1988; was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in 1988; and received several other honors. He has published numerous translations of Slovak poetic and prose literature, and devotional materials. Vajda and his wife, Louise, have four children, Susan (Mrs. Henry) Raedeke, Jr.; Jeremy; Timothy; and Deborah (Mrs. Jeffrey) Johnson.

For more information, contact Communications, Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105; (314) 505-7374; communications@csl.edu.