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Hans Adolf Brorson at Ribe Cathedral. The statue is a copy of August Saabye’s (1823-1916) Brorson statue that stands in front of the Marble Church in Copenhagen.

Hans Adolf Brorson (1694-1764)

Hans Adolf Brorson was born and raised in Randerup, where his father was a priest. Both Hans and his two older brothers became priests. Hans Adolf Brorson was appointed bishop in Ribe in 1741, and he was a gifted preacher and psalm writer. Brorson lived at Taarnborg, one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in town.

Childhood and youth
Ribe’s famous psalm writer, Hans Adolf Brorson, was originally from Randerup, where his father was a parish priest. He was born here in 1694 and grew up with two older brothers. When Hans Adolf was 10 years old, his father died and his mother married Holbek, the family tutor teacher and the new priest in the parish.
The three brothers went to public school, later Latin school in Ribe and then to university in Copenhagen together, all studying theology. Hans Adolf also studied languages, philosophy and history. This turned out to be a bit too much for him, and he didn’t graduate – unlike his two brothers. He went very disappointed back to Jutland and started to work as a private tutor in Løgumkloster, where he tutored his cousins Johan and Katrine. During this period, Hans Adolf got acquainted with a new religious tendency, pietism, which based on piety and a vivid personal belief. Pietism came from Germany and spread all over Denmark during the first half of the 1700s.

From private tutor to bishop
Hans Adolf Brorson worked as a private tutor until 1722, where he got engaged to his cousin Katrine. That same year he returned to Copenhagen to finish his studies. He graduated this time and returned home as theologian. Shortly after, his stepfather died and Hans Adolf Brorson became the new parish priest in Randerup.
He later became priest in Tønder, where he e. g. wrote the first Tønder booklet ”Nogle Jule Psalmer”(Christmas Psalms), and published in 1732.
He further published a number of poems and psalms, the most famous being ”Den yndigste Rose er funden”, played every day in Ribe Cathedral.
His poetry was characterised by pietism and was mainly about finding Jesus via repentance and saviour by thinking about religion while living, because it is too late when you are dead.
Hans Adolf Brorson was appointed bishop in Ribe Cathedral in 1736, where he worked until his death in 1764. A statue of Brorson is situated outside the cathedral.

Brorson’s brooding disposition
Brorson’s life was characterised by a brooding disposition and suffered from severe depressions. He was often so oppressed that he had to stay in bed over long periods of time. He was fragile physically and mentally. Like many of his time, Hans saw that mortality was much bigger than today. He lost both children and other close relatives. His wife Katrine died in birth bed with their 13th child. This was an awful experience for him.
He later re-married Johanne, with whom he had children as well. Despite his dark mind, he knew how to preach. He could speak tears to the eyes and the church was always full during his services. He was said to so popular that people often sat on the floor.

Sources:
L. J. Koch: Salmedigteren Brorson, 1931.

A. D. Jørgensen: Hans Adolf Brorson, 1887.

Torben Bramming: Fire store ripensere, 250 års national identitet i en vanddråbe, 2008.

Links:
Archive for Danish Literature
 

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