Mikael Franzen

Variations on "Prepare The Way" [HARPSICHORD]

"Prepare the Way"


Frans Mikael Franzen (1772-1847) was a Swedish poet born in Finland. At thirteen he entered the university of Abo, where he attended the lectures of H. G. Porthan (1739-1804), a pioneer in the study of Finnish history and legend. Franzen graduated age 17, and three years later he embarked on a tour of Denmark, Germany, France and England, returning in 1796 (age 24) to accept the office of university librarian at Abo. In 1801 he became professor of history and ethics, and in 1808 (age 36) was elected a member of the Swedish Academy.

When Finland was ceded by Sweden to Russia in 1809 as a consequence of the Finnish War, Franzen emigrated to Sweden, where he was successively appointed parish priest of Kumla in the diocese of Strengnas (1810), minister of the Clara Church in Stockholm (1824) and bishop of Hernosand (1831). In 1797 he was awarded a prize by the Swedish Academy for his poetry. He died at Sabra parsonage in 1847 (age 75).

Our melody for this hymn comes from the The Swedish Psalm Book (1695), the first official psalm book of the Church of Sweden.

Charles P. Price (1920-1999), who adapted Franzen's poem into English ("Prepare the Way"), was born in Pittsburgh in 1920 and educated at Harvard University, Virgina Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He studied piano with Elizabeth and Ferguson Webster and was ordained as a deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Pittsburgh. He served churches in Pennsylvania and New York City before becoming a professor at Virginia Theological Seminary (1956-1963). From 1963 to 1972 he was preacher to the university and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University before returning to Virginia Seminary as professor of systematic theology (1972-1989).