Feast of Peter Ricksecker, Johann Christian Bechler, and Julius Theodore Bechler (July 13)   Leave a comment

Bechlers

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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PETER RICKSECKER (1791-JULY 13, 1873)

U.S. Moravian Minister, Missionary, Musician, Music Educator, and Composer

student of

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BECHLER (JANUARY 7, 1784-APRIL 18, 1857)

Moravian Minister, Musician, Music Educator, and Composer

father of

JULIUS THEODORE BECHLER (JUNE 26, 1814-MARCH 8, 1875)

U.S. Moravian Minister, Musician, Educator, and Composer

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The multi-saint post is one of my favorite kinds of posts to write, for it highlights the positive influences we human beings are supposed to have on each other.  Today, in such a post, I add three people to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

We begin with Peter Ricksecker (1781-1873), born at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  He attended the Moravian Theological Seminary, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1811.  From 1811 to 1831 our saint taught at Nazareth Hall, the boys’ school at Nazareth.  Next he taught at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for about five years (1821-1826).  Ordination and assignment to a missionary post on the Caribbean island of Tobago followed in 1826.

Trinidad and Tobago 1951

Above:  Tobago, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

He remained in the region, serving at St. Kitts and Jamaica in subsequent years.

Antigua and St. Kitts 1951

Above:  St. Kitts, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

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Jamaica 1951

Above:  Jamaica, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Bad health forced his return to Bethlehem in 1848.  From 1854 to 1857 our saint, with the help of his daughter and son-in-law, the Reverend D. Z. Smith (also excellent musicians), Ricksecker ministered among the Native American population at and near Leavenworth, Kansas.  There, in 1857, our saint founded a music school.  He died at Bethlehem on July 13, 1873.

Ricksecker, a skilled violinist, vocalist, and organist, studied composition at  Nazareth Hall under Johann Christian Bechler (1748-1857), Principal from 1806 to 1812.  Ricksecker composed works for choristers and instrumentalists.  During my research I read references to six band marches and a piano work, the Battle of New Orleans.

Saaremaa Island 1968

Above:  Saaremaa Island, Estonia, 1968

Scanned from the Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)

Johann Christian Bechler (1748-1857), Ricksecker’s teacher of composition, entered the world on Ossel Island, Russia (now Saaremaa Island, Estonia), on July 7, 1784.  He taught organ at the Moravian theological seminary at Barby before emigrating to America, where he remained until 1836.  Bechler served as the Principal of Nazareth Hall from 1806 to 1812 and from 1817 to 1822 and at Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Bechler composed while in America yet not in Europe, at least as far as documentation indicates.  He wrote many anthems (such as Praises, Thanks, and Adoration), Parthia (a suite for woodwinds), and Der Nachtwacher (a set of variations on a chorale tune for violoncello and two violins).

Bechler returned to Europe in 1836; there he remained.  He served at, in order, Sarepta, Russia; Berlin, Prussia; and Zeist, The Netherlands.  Then, in 1849, he retired to Herrnhut, in Saxony, where he died on April 18, 1857.

Among Bechler’s other students was Peter Wolle (1792-1871), whom he instructed in the organ.

Bechler and his wife, Augusta Henrietta Bechler, had a worthy heir, Julius Theodore Bechler (1814-1875).  Julius Theodore, born at New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, on June 26, 1814, studied pianoforte at Nazareth Hall, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, from 1824 to 1829.  He also studied at the Moravian Theological Seminary, Nazareth, before teaching at Nazareth Hall from 1832 to 1838.

Julius Theodore led an illustrious ministerial career.  In 1838 he married Emma Cornelia Smith (1816-1853); they had two children.  He served as pastor at Bethania, North Carolina, from 1838 to 1844 then at Emmaus, Pennsylvania, from 1844 t0 1846.  Then he transferred to Lititz, Pennsylvania, He married for the second time in 1854; wife number two was Theodora Elizabeth Fruehauff (1826-1913), a teacher, musician, artist, and linguist.  They had two children.  From 1855 to 1862 our saint was the Principal of Linden Hall, Lititz (a girls’ school), succeeding the Reverend Eugene Fruehauff.  Then, in 1862, Julius Theodore founded and led the Sunnyside College for Girls.  He died on March 8, 1875.

I give thanks for the faithful lives and legacies of these saints, who glorified God and benefited their communities.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 30, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK OAKELEY, ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT BATHILDAS, QUEEN OF FRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GENESIUS I AND PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS, AND SAINT AMARIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF LESSLIE NEWBIGIN, UNITED REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of your servants

Peter Ricksecker, Johann Christian Bechler, and Julius Theodore Bechler,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724

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