Feast of Martin Dober, Johann Leonhard Dober, and Anna Dober (October 12)   4 comments

Dober

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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THIRD ENTRY IN A SERIES OF FOUR POSTS

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MARTIN DOBER (NOVEMBER 23, 1703-DECEMBER 9, 1748)

Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer

brother of

JOHANN LEONHARD DOBER (1706-1766)

Moravian Missionary and Bishop

husband of

ANNA SCHINDLER DOBER (APRIL 9, 1713-DECEMBER 12, 1739)

Moravian Missionary and Hymn Writer

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Two brothers emigrated to Herrnhut in 1725.  Martin and Johann Leonhard (whose name some sources Anglicize as Leonard) Dober were potters from Monchsroth, Swabia.  They were far more than skilled potters; the Renewed Moravian Church provided them opportunities to manifest other abilities in the service of God.

Martin Dober (1703-1748) spent much time at Herrnhut.  For at least part of his time there he led morning worship at 5:00 then went to work in his pottery shop.  Martin became a trusted assistant of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) and a teacher at Herrnhut.  Dober became a bishop in 1744, led the Moravian communities in Britain and Ireland in 1744 and 1745, and ended his days at Herrnhaag.  He also wrote hymns, such as “Jesus, Saviour, I Implore Thee.”  The Index of Authors and Translators in the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923) described him as:

highly gifted in original languages and in the cure of souls.

–Page 674

Johann Leonhard Dober (1706-1766), or Leonard Dober, as some sources refer to him, was a giant in the early decades of the Renewed Moravian Church.  From 1732 to 1734 he served as a missionary in the West Indies.  David Nitschmann (1696-1772) traveled with him to St. Thomas and spent sixteen weeks helping him get started.  Dober labored faithfully in the West Indies, but without much success.  In late 1734 he left for Herrnhut to answer the summons to succeed the late Martin Linner as Chief Elder of the denomination.  Dober had, years earlier, assisted Linner, then the leader of the Single Brothers’ Choir at Herrnhut.  (A choir was a communal group.)

Dober’s successor at St. Thomas was Friedrich Martin (1704-1750), who succeeded, leaving 1,600 baptized people at the time of his death.  He, a bishop from 1748, survived legal obstacles, such as imprisonment for refusing to swear an oath in court and to pay the accompanying fine.  His widow, Maria Barbara Leinbach (1722-1810), married David Nitschmann (1696-1772) in 1754.

Anna Schindler (1713-1739), a native of Kunewald, Moravia, helped Anna Nitschmann (1715-1760) found the Single Sisters’ Choir at Herrnhut in 1730, having lived at the settlement since 1725.  Anna Schindler married Johann Leonhard Dober on July 13, 1737.  He had been the Chief Elder of the Renewed Moravian Church for two years.  In 1738 he and his wife started evangelizing in Amsterdam.  She died at Marienborn, Saxony, on December 12, 1739, a few months short of her twenty-seventh birthday.

Anna wrote at least eighteen hymns, including “Lamb of God, Who Thee Receive” (1735) and “O What Depth of Love and Boundless Grace” (1737).  The translation of the latter hymn from the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969) follows:

O what a depth of love and boundless grace

The gospel light to sinful man displays,

When Christ Himself to us doth manifest,

And we in Him find comfort, peace, and rest!

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When in the soul this blessed truth resounds,

That Christ’s death, for sinners life abounds,

O how doth this fresh the fainting heart,

And bid all anxious doubts and fears depart.

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For sinners without merit of their own

Which could the burden of great guilt atone,

Who no escape from penalty can see,

For such the Lamb of God died on the tree.

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From Him there goes forth virtue, that we may

With confidence to God the Father pray.

And then we shall ourselves to all proclaim

The heirs of God through faith in Jesus’ Name.

Johann Leonhard Dober resigned as Chief Elder at the Synod of 1741.  The job of leading the Moravian Church was too much for one person, he said.  There were also concerns that the Chief Eldership might turn into a Moravian version of the Papacy.  The decision that Jesus Christ would become the Chief Elder of the Moravian Church occurred on September 16, 1741.  The formal announcement of this fact on November 13 of that year has become a commemorated event, the Festival of Christ the Chief Elder.  The General Conference, a three-member committee, became the decision-making body.  Dober did not belong to it.

Dober, a bishop since 1747, traveled widely on church business.  For example, in 1749, when the Church was cleaning up the mess of the “Sifting Time” (1743-1750), centered at Herrnhaag, Dober and Bishop David Nitschmann (1696-1772) visited European Moravian communities as part of the effort.  During his labors Dober also wrote at least twelve hymns, none of which North American Moravian hymnals since 1923 have contained.

Dober died at Herrnhut in 1766.

Here ends the third installment of this series of posts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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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

Martin Dober, Johann Leonhard Dober, and Anna Schindler Dober,

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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