Feast of Francis Florentine Hagen (July 7)   3 comments

Morning Star

Above:  The Title Page to Morning Star

Image in the Public Domain



U.S. Moravian Minister and Composer

Francis Florentine Hagen belonged to an esteemed tradition–Moravian ministers who were also composers.  He maintained a high standard of quality in music while not embracing tradition for its own sake.  Bad performances of German chorales did nothing to grow the church, he said, much to the chagrin of some.  Thus Hagen accepted some popular forms of American church music–just not the dross, as he defined it.

Hagen, born in Salem, North Carolina, on October 30, 1815, was one of five children of Johann Joachim Hagen (1771-1844), a tailor and missionary, and Susanna Lick Hagen (1787-1853).  Our saint attended the Moravian Theological Seminary, graduating in 1835.  He taught at the boys’ school at Salem until 1837, then at Nazareth Hall, the boys’ school at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, from 1837 to 1841.  Then he returned to Salem.  In 1844 Hagen married Clara Cornelia Reichel (died in 1862).  They had six children.  He married a second time, to Ellen Smyser (died in 1872), in 1864.  They had three children.

Hagen’s ministerial career was as follows:

  1. Ordained a deacon (1844);
  2. Pastor at Bethania, North Carolina (1844-1851);
  3. Pastor at Freidberg, North Carolina (1851-1854);
  4. Ordained a presbyter (1852);
  5. Pastor at York, Pennsylvania (1854 forward);
  6. Member, Provincial Elders Council (1861-1867);
  7. Delegate to the General Synod at Herrnhut (1869);
  8. Pastor at New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, then at Harmony, Iowa (1867-1877);
  9. Retirement due to injury (1877); and
  10. Pastor at Easton, Maryland (1888-1889).

Hagen combined Romanticism and traditional Moravian influences in his music.  He composed anthems, solo songs, an orchestral overture, works for solo piano, and organ pieces.  His compositions included the following:

  1. Remembrance Rondoletto;
  2. A Friend in Need, Is a Friend Indeed;
  3. Her Last Words at Parting;
  4. Mowing the Harvest Hay;
  5. The Grave of My Wife;
  6. Alma Mater;
  7. A Loving Home’s a Happy Home;
  8. Morning Star, a Christmas-Epiphany anthem;
  9. Overture in F Major; and
  10. Scherzo Capriccioso.

He also arranged the works of other composers for the organ.  His Church and Home Organist Companion (two volumes, 1880 and 1881) contained musical arrangements, transcriptions, and original works.

Our saint died at Lititz, Pennsylvania, on July 7, 1907.  His music survives him, fortunately.

Morning Star Music

Scanned from the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923)





Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Francis Florentine Hagen

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior,

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728


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