Posted by: rcottrill | August 2, 2010

Today in 1941 – Anna Hoppe Died

With only an eighth grade education, Anna Bernardine Dorothy Hoppe left school to face the working world. She got a job as a secretary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but that was not to be where she made her most lasting mark. Anna had been writing poetry since childhood, and by her mid-twenties her verses had taken on a marked devotional flavour. Today, several of her poems have been published in hymnals of the Lutheran church, set to traditional melodies.

The author said of her work, “Many of my hymns have been written on my way to and from church, and to and from work. I utilize my lunch hours for typing the hymns.” Anna also did some translation of German hymns. For example, she gave us this seventeenth century hymn by Paul Gerhardt.

O world, see here suspended
His loving arms extended,
Thy Saviour on the cross!
The Prince of life is willing,
All righteousness fulfilling,
To suffer anguish, scorn and loss.

Graphic Manger SceneThe lovely carol, Precious Child, So Sweetly Sleeping is one of Anna Hoppe’s own songs. I tried to find a more familiar tune that could be used with it, but could discover none that exactly fit. Though the stanzas are one beat short in the fifth line, the hymn might be sung, with a slight adjustment, to Regent Square, the tune commonly used for Angels from the Realms of Glory. (You can see the entire hymn and hear the original tune on the Cyber Hymnal.)

Precious Child, so sweetly sleeping
In a virgin’s fond embrace;
Heav’nly hosts their watch are keeping
O’er Thy humble dwelling place;
Blest Messiah, newborn King,
Let my heart its tribute bring.

Promised Saviour, I adore Thee,
Son of David, Son of God!
What can mortals bring before Thee?
All is Thine on earthly sod.
Take my heart and let it be
Filled with love, dear Child, to Thee.

(2) More from Isaac Watts – Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne
In our day, the word “awful” has been given a negative connotation. It has come to mean revolting, or disgusting (as in, “Wasn’t that an awful dress Christine was wearing!). But its original meaning was awe-inspiring, and that is what Dr. Watts meant when he published his great hymn (the original version in 1706). It is based on Psalm 100.

To avoid misunderstanding, the first line is sometimes sung today as, “Before Jehovah’s awesome throne.” That is the version sung in Westminster Abbey below, in a service at the beginning of the Gulf War.

Before Jehovah’s awful throne,
Ye nations, bow with sacred joy;
Know that the Lord is God alone;
He can create, and He destroy.

His sovereign power, without our aid,
Made us of clay, and formed us men;
And when like wandering sheep we strayed,
He brought us to His fold again.

We’ll crowd Thy gates with thankful songs,
High as the heav’ns our voices raise;
And earth, with her ten thousand tongues,
Shall fill Thy courts with sounding praise.

Wide as the world is Thy command,
Vast as eternity Thy love;
Firm as a rock Thy truth must stand,
When rolling years shall cease to move.


  1. First of all, I believe Anna Hoppe is a shirt-tail relation to my brother-in-law! 🙂

    Secondly, The tune Consolation (often sung to Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain) can be sung to the Precious Child text.

    As for her translation of the Gerhard text, I love that one with the tune O Welt Ich Muss Dich Lassen.

    • Thanks for the suggestions. Listened to both fine tunes–ones I was not familiar with.

      As to shirt-tail relations, I have a few of those too, including Olympian and missionary Eric Liddell, and Scottish poet Robert Burns.

  2. Anna Hoppe was god-mother to my father, James Edward Engel. Upon organizing my office I found a 1928 edition of Songs of the Church Year with a lovely inscription from her to my dad. What a find. What I do not know is how his parents were acquaintances with her. Perhaps it will remain a mystery. Of course they all resided in Milwaukee.

    Her poems are very sincere and at first blush Biblically sound. I will enjoy reading through them.

    • Thanks very much for sharing that. It’s wonderful to find these family connections. Would the inscription in the book be something you’d feel free to scan and share? Maybe Dick Adams at the the Cyber Hymnal would be interested in putting the picture on his Anna Hoppe page, here. God bless.


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