Feast of John Swertner and John Mueller (March 11)   2 comments

Moravian Logo

Above:  The Logo of the Moravian Church

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN SWERTNER (SEPTEMBER 12, 1756-MARCH 11, 1813)

Dutch-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymnal Editor

worked with

JOHN MUELLER (A.K.A. JOHN MILLER OR JOHN MULLER) (1756-1790)

German-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor

With this post I add to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days two Moravian ministers in the British Isles.

John Swertner, a native of Haarlem, The Netherlands, debuted on September 12, 1756.  The son of a Moravian minister studied at the Moravian school at Zeist then the seminary at Barby, answered a call to England, where he spent most of the rest of his life.  Swertner, son-in-law of the Calvinistic Methodist-turned-Moravian evangelist John Cennick (1718-1755) and husband of Elizabeth Cennick, worked in various capacities for the Moravian Church at Fulneck, Yorkshire, London, and Fairfield, in England, and Dublin in Ireland.  He, ordained in 1779, edited the British Moravian hymnals of 1789 and 1801.  His partner in editing A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the Protestant Church of the United Brethren (1789) was John Mueller (1756-1790), a.k.a. John Miller or John Muller.

Mueller/Muller/Miller, a native of Hennersdorf, in Germany, also ministered in England.  Information about him proved scarce during the research phase of the development of this post.  I was successful, however, in locating two complete hymn texts by him in the Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923).  The first was a Christmas hymn from 1789:

Christ the Lord, the Lord most glorious,

Now is born; O shout aloud!

Man by Him is made victorious;

Praise your Saviour, hail your God!

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Praise the Lord, for on us shineth

Christ the Sun of righteousness;

He to us in love inclineth,

Cheers our souls with pardoning grace.

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Praise the Lord, Whose saving splendor

Shines into darkest night;

O what praises shall we render

For this never-ceasing light.

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Praise the Lord, God our Salvation,

Praise Him Who retrieved our loss;

Sing, with awe, and love’s sensation,

Hallelujah, God with us.

The other hymn also dated to 1789:

O, that we all could quite fulfill

Our Saviour’s testament and will;

To love each other we desire;

Come, sacred love, our hearts inspire.

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We join together heart and hand,

To walk towards the promised land;

For this appearance may with care

Each member day and night prepare.

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Till we the Lord, our Righteousness

Shall see in glory face to face,

The bond of peace may we maintain,

And one with Him, our Lord, remain.

Swertner’s contributions to hymnody proved influential.  The Collection of 1789, which he and Mueller/Muller/Miller edited, contained 887 hymns, down from 1055, the count in A Collection of Hymns of the Children of God in All Ages, From the Beginning Till Now; Designed Chiefly with the Brethren’s Church (1754), the preceding British Moravian hymnal.  Swertner and Mueller/Muller/Miller altered many older translations of German hymns and provided new translations of other German hymns.  The purpose of these changes was to avoid excessive emotionalism, enthusiasm, overly sentimental devotion, which had characterized previous Moravian hymnody.  A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the Protestant Church of the United Brethren–New and Revised Edition (1801), with its supplement of 1808, was also in use in North America.  (Swertner did not edit the supplement of 1808).

Swertner also wrote and translated hymns.  I have added two of his texts to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Swertner died at Bristol, England, on March 11, 1813.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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

thank you for those (especially John Swertner and John Mueller)

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

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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2 responses to “Feast of John Swertner and John Mueller (March 11)

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  1. Pingback: John Swertner | GATHERED PRAYERS

  2. Pingback: Adjusting to America: Moravians, 1735-1848 | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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