Feast of Christian Gregor (November 6)   8 comments

Herrnhut 1765

Above:  Herrnhut, 1765

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH GREGOR (JANUARY 1, 1723-NOVEMBER 6, 1801)

Father of Moravian Music

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Given the fact that I maintain eight weblogs, I let some sit fallow for defined periods of time while I juggle projects.  Among those projects is Liturgy in the Moravian Church in America, a series at BLOGA THEOLOGICA.  That series brings names and contexts to my attention, thereby expanding the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS and the breadth of material at GATHERED PRAYERS.  The name of Christian Gregor came to my attention during the process of working on a post in the Moravian liturgy series at BLOGA THEOLOGICA.

Christian Gregor (1723-1801), the “Father of Moravian Music,” was a giant in the Renewed Unitas Fratrum (1727-).  He, the son of a Silesian peasant farmer, joined the Unitas Fratrum at age seventeen.  In 1742 he arrived at Herrnhut, where he spent most of the rest of his life.  From 1742 to 1748 our saint served as organist at the Moravian headquarters in Saxony.  In 1748 Gregor transferred to the planned community of Herrnhaag (1738-1753), where he worked as the music director. He performed the same function at Zeist, The Netherlands, from 1749 to 1753.  Then our saint returned to Herrnhut, where he remained except for visits elsewhere, such as his travels in Pennsylvania and North Carolina in 1770-1772.  Gregor, back at Herrnhut, served as the treasurer of the Moravian Church’s Board of Direction, starting in 1753.  Our saint, ordained deacon in 1756 and presbyter in 1767, joined that Board in 1764 and became a bishop in 1789.

Gregor was a talented linguist.  He stabilized Moravian hymnody, toning down maudlin tendencies regarding expressions of grief regarding the crucifixion and wounds of Jesus.  His greatest contributions in the field of worship were the Gesangbuch (1778) and the Choralbuch (1784), both of which established standards for the entire Moravian world.  The Gesangbuch, a hymnal, contained no music, according to Moravian custom of the time.  This volume, which remained in use for about a century, contained 1,750 texts, 308 of which Gregor had written or recast.  His Choralbuch, which contained no words, was a volume for organists.

Gregor, a prolific composer of more than 300 musical works apart from hymns, has remained influential in Moravian hymnody.  A few of those hymns and other works for church services include the following:

  1. With Thy Presence, Our Lord and Saviour;”
  2. Make My Calling and Election;”
  3. Sing with Awe in Strains Melodious;” and
  4. Thou, Whose Human Life Did For Us Happiness Obtain.”

Another text is “In This Sepulchral Eden” (with an English translation by Christian Ignatius LaTrobe):

In this sepulchral Eden the tree of life I’ve found,

Here is my treasure hidden, I tread on hallowed ground;

Ye sick, ye faint and weary, howe’er your ailments vary,

Come hither, and make sure of a most perfect cure.

+++++

Here lies in death’s embraces,

My Bridegroom, Lord and God;

With awe my soul retraces

The dark and dolorous road

+++++

That leads to this last station;

Here in sweet meditation

I’ll dwell by day and night,

Till faith is changed to sight.

Here is a translation of another Gregor text:

Sing hallelujah, Christ doth live,

And peace on earth restore;

Come, ransomed souls, and glory give,

Sing, worship and adore:

With grateful hearts to Him we pay

Our thanks in humble wise;

Who aught unto our charge can lay?

‘Tis God that justifies.

+++++

Who can condemn, since Christ was dead,

And ever lives to God?

Now our whole debt is fully paid,

He saves us by His blood:

The ransomed hosts in earth and heaven

Through countless choirs proclaim,

“He hath redeemed us; praise be given

To God and to the Lamb.”

+++++

In all we do, constrained by love,

We’ll joy to Him afford,

And to God’s will obedient prove

Through Jesus Christ our Lord:

Sing hallelujah, and adore

On earth the Lamb once slain,

Till we in heaven shall evermore

Exalt His Name.

And here is another translated Gregor text:

Countless hosts before God’s throne,

Where the Lamb abideth,

And as God and Man, His own

To life’s fountain guideth,

Now possess perfect bless,

Which for us is wanting,

And for which we’re panting.

+++++

O how excellent and fair,

Goodly beyond measure,

Is the lot which we shall share;

And how rich the treasure!

When we see, bodily,

Our beloved Saviour,

And He is, for ever.

+++++

May this ever blessed hope

Fill our hearts with gladness,

And ‘mid weakness bear us up,

Till from sin and sadness

We shall be wholly free,

And above for ever,

Praise our gracious Saviour.

Gregor introduced concerted anthems and arias into Moravian Church music.  Among his contributions in this regard was a 1783 setting of the following text:

Hosanna!  Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!

The arrangement in two voice parts fills two pages in the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923).

Blessed is He Gregor

Above:  Gregor’s 1783 Setting of the Hosanna

Scan Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Our saint attended a meeting of the Board of Direction at Herrnhut on in early November 1801.  Afterward he suffered a fatal stroke.  Gregor, his work completed, died on November 6.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL EXILED SAINTS

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Christian Gregor)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: