Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1820s’ Category

Feast of James Montgomery (April 30)   1 comment

Above:  Statue of James Montgomery

Image Source = Mick Knapton

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JAMES MONTGOMERY (NOVEMBER 4, 1771-APRIL 30, 1854)

Anglican and Moravian Hymn Writer

James Montgomery was one of the greatest English hymn writers, by quality of those texts as well as the quantity of them–more than 400.  The Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923) included 52 of his hymns–certainly an impressive count.

James Montgomery, born on November 4, 1771, at Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, was one of several sons of John Montgomery, the only Moravian minister in Scotland.  Our saint, who started writing poetry at the age of 10 years, studied at Bracehill, a Moravian settlement in Ireland, where his family had settled in 1776.  A few years later the parents left their sons behind, in the care of the Moravian Church, and became missionaries to Barbados, where they died.  Young James continued his education at Fulneck Seminary, Fulneck, England.  He was, however, a bad student, so school officials apprenticed him to a baker.  Montgomery ran away from the baker and fled to Mirfield in 1787.  There he got a job in retail, but became bored with that position.  So it came to pass that he left that job and relocated to Wath, near Rotherham, and went to work in another store.  That position did not satisfy Montgomery either, so he left for London.  In that city he searched in vain for someone to publish his poetry.  In 1792, however, he did find a job he liked–assistant to one Jospeh Gales, an auctioneer, a bookseller, and the publisher of the Sheffield Register.

Montgomery was, by the standards of Tory politics, a revolutionary; so was Gales.  Our saint approved of the storming of the Bastille, favored the abolition of slavery and of the slave trade, and was concerned about the plight of child laborers.  He was a radical who did not shrink from challenging conventions and institutions.  In the wake of the French Revolution the administration of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger clamped down on dissent (even that of the peaceful variety) and suspended the writ of habeas corpus.  There was, therefore, no freedom of speech or of the press for a time–all in the name of national security, a poor excuse for suppressing civil liberties.  Gales fled the country rather than go to prison for having published certain articles and editorials.  Montgomery assumed leadership of the newspaper, which he renamed the Sheffield Iris.  For 31 years, until 1825, he edited the publication.  Twice he went to prison for political reasons.  The first term was due to a text in praise of the storming of the Bastille.  The second period of incarceration followed the printing of details of a riot at Sheffield.

Montgomery, who helped to found the Eclectic Review in 1825 and contributed to it frequently for years, lectured on poetry at Sheffield and at the Royal Institution, London.  Our saint, who left the Moravian Church for The Church of England, returned to the Unitas Fratrum in 1812.  As an Anglican, Montgomery promoted the congregational singing of hymns, as opposed to the traditional metrical Psalms.  (Congregational hymn singing displaced metrical Psalms in Anglicanism in the 1800s.)  Our saint also encouraged foreign missions and worked with the British Bible Society.  Some of his hymns were parts of these evangelistic efforts.

Some of Montgomery’s notable hymns were:

  1. “We Bid Thee Welcome in the Name of Jesus” (for the ordination and installation of a minister),
  2. “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,”
  3. “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Gates of Brass,”
  4. “Angels, from the Realms of Glory,” and
  5. “O Bless the Lord, My Soul.”

Major works of our saint, awarded (by a Whig government) a royal pension of 200 pounds–that is, 17,400 pounds, adjusted for inflation to 2016 currency, measured according to the retail price index–per annum in 1833, included:

  1. Prison Amusements (1796),
  2. The Ocean (1805),
  3. The Wanderer of Switzerland (1806),
  4. The West Indies (1810),
  5. The World Before the Flood (1812),
  6. Greenland, and Other Poems (1819),
  7. Songs of Zion (1822),
  8. The Christian Psalmist (1825),
  9. The Pelican Island (1827),
  10. Collected Poems (1841), and
  11. Original Hymns (1853).

Montgomery died in his sleep at his home on The Mount, Sheffield, on April 30, 1854.  He was 84 years old.  A large public funeral followed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FLORA MACDONALD, CANADIAN STATESWOMAN AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF NANCY BYRD TURNER, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS, 1974 AND 1975

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

James Montgomery and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (April 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Grave of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale

Image Source = Midnightdreary

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SARAH JOSEPHA BUELL HALE (OCTOBER 24, 1788-APRIL 30, 1879)

Poet, Author, Editor, and Prophetic Witness

The Episcopal Church, in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), lists Sarah Josepha Buell Hale as “Editor and Prophetic Witness” and sets April 30 as her feast day.  This commemoration dates to 2009, when the denominational General Convention voted to recognize her and other “new” saints listed in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints, the expansion of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, still (as of 2017), the official calendar of saints for The Episcopal Church.

Sarah Josepha Buell, a native of New Hampshire, entered the world on October 24, 1788.  She came from a somewhat socially and politically revolutionary family.  Her parents, Captain Gordon Buell and Martha Buell, advocated for the equal education of males and females at a time when young women usually received educations designed to prepare them to become mothers and homemakers, not to pursue careers.  Sarah married attorney David Hale in 1813.  They remained married until 1822, when he died a few days before the birth of their fifth child.  Our saint wore black for the rest of her life and supported her family and herself as a writer and journalist.

Hale published more than 50 volumes, from poetry to novels to cookbooks to works on women’s history.  Her first volume of poetry was The Genius of Oblivion (1823).  Northwood:  A Tale of New England (1827) was the first American novel by a woman and one of the earliest American novels to address chattel slavery.  Poems for Our Little Children (1830) gave the world “Mary had a little lamb.”  The premise of Woman’s Record, or Sketches from the Creation to the Present Day (1853; revised in 1869 and 1876), her most popular book, was the moral superiority of women over men and the equating of the progress of women and that of Christianity.

Hale who grew up reading books such as the Bible and The Pilgrim’s Progress, was ahead of her time in some ways and of her time in others.  True to her age, our saint bought into the twin fallacies of separate spheres and republican motherhood, whereby men and women moved in different social circles and women functioned properly as the moral guardians of the republic, raising young Americans, joining patriotic organizations, and lobbying male office holders yet did not vote or hold public offices.  Hale used her positions as the Editor of the popular Ladies’ Magazine (from 1828 to 1837) and its successor, Godey’s Lady’s Book (from 1837 to 1877) to promote her middle class notions of morality, etiquette, attire, et cetera.  On the other hand, she used those positions to promote the equal education of males and females, to help found Vassar College (in 1861), to argue for the property rights for women as well as for access to health care, to support women who chose careers, and to oppose slavery.  During the Civil War Hale supported the Union cause.  Before and after that conflict she promoted national unity.

Hale contributed to her nation in other ways.  She promoted the preservation of the historic sites at Bunker Hill and Mount Vernon.  And, starting in 1846, our saint advocated for the nationalization of the Thanksgiving holiday, observed in some states (mainly in New England) on different dates at the time.  President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Decree (1863) was the culmination of her efforts in that regard.

Hale died on April 30, 1879.  She was 90 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Gracious God, we bless your Name for the union and witness of Sarah Hale,

whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement.

Make us grateful for your many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families,

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 30:17-19, 22

Psalm 96

Philippians 1:27-2:2

Matthew 5:1-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 353

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Feast of George Washington Doane and William Croswell Doane (April 27)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE (MAY 27, 1799-APRIL 27, 1859)

Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey

father of

WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE (MARCH 2, 1832-MAY 17, 1913)

Episcopal Bishop of Albany

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Above:  George Washington Doane 

Image in the Public Domain

George Washington Doane was a bishop.  He entered the world on May 27, 1799, at Trenton, New Jersey.  Bishop John Henry Hobart of New York ordained him deacon then priest in 1823.  Father Doane founded St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York.  He also taught at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, from 1824 to 1828, and served Christ Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts from 1828 to 1832, as Assistant Rector then Rector.  In 1832 Doane became Bishop of New Jersey, a position he held for the remainder of his life.  Much of his episcopal legacy rests on the founding of parochial schools.  Also, Doane was a High Churchman at a time when chanting, bowing to altars, and lighting candles could lead to major theological altercations.

Doane’s son, William Croswell Doane, became the Bishop of Albany, in the state of New York.

Bishop George Washington Doane wrote the hymns, “Thou Art the Way” and “Softly Now the Light of Day.

He died on April 27, 1859.

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Above:  William Croswell Doane

Image in the Public Domain

William Croswell Doane was also a bishop.  He entered the world on March 2, 1832, in Boston, Massachusetts.  His father, George Washington Doane, ordained Doane, Jr., to the diaconate in 1853 and the priesthood three years later.  In the 1850s and 1860s Doane, Jr., served churches in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut; Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a parishioner in Hartford, Connecticut.  Doane Jr., like his father, was a High Churchman when that was controversial.  These ritualistic tendencies prompted evangelical (low church) opposition to his 1868 election as Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Albany, in the state of New York.  Bishop Doane of Albany oversaw the construction of the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany.  (J. P. Morgan contributed to the financing of the cathedral.)  Cathedrals were not commonplace in Episcopal dioceses at the time, unlike today.

William Croswell Doane died in office on May 17,  1913.

His main legacy for church members today is the hymn, “Ancient of Days.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church, including your servants

George Washington Doane and William Croswell Doane.

May the memory of their lives be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3;14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of St. Conrad of Parzham (April 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Conrad of Parzham

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CONRAD OF PARZHAM (DECEMBER 22, 1818-APRIL 21, 1894)

Capuchin Friar

Born Johann Birndorfer

Johann Birdorfer was a holy man.  He, born in Parzham, Bavaria, on December 22, 1818, came from a farming family.  As a young man he devoted himself to solitary prayer and to peacemaking.  He also frequented churches and shrines in his native region.  Our saint became a Capuchin tertiary at the age of 31 years and a novice (as Conrad) two years later.  For more than forty years Friar Conrad, a porter at the Shrine of Our Lady at Alotting, Bavaria, distributed alms, assisted pilgrims, counseled people spiritually, and taught the faith to children.  He performed these duties until three days before he died.  During those final days, as St. Conrad lay on his death-bed, children to whom he had taught the rosary recited it outside his window.  He died on April 21, 1894.

Pope Pius XI declared St. Conrad a Venerable in 1928, a Blessed in 1930, and a full saint in 1934.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN GUALBERT, FOUNDER OF THE VALLOMBROSAN BENEDICTINES

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES RENATUS VERBEEK, MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PETER RICKSECKER, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER; STUDENT OF JOHANN CHRISTIAN BECHLER, MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER; FATHER OF JULIUS THEODORE BECHLER, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion

of your servant Saint Conrad of Parzham, may serve you with singleness of heart,

and attain to the riches of the age to come;  through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 22

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Feast of Blessed Maria Anna Blondin (April 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Maria Anne Blondin

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA ANNE BLONDIN (APRIL 18, 1809-JANUARY 2, 1890)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne

Born Esther Blondin

Alternative feast day = January 2

Blessed Maria Anne Blondin was a saint whom the Roman Catholic Church marginalized then recognized as holy.

Esther Blondin, born at Terrebonne, Quebec, on April 18, 1809, came from an illiterate farming family.  Our saint, a daughter of Jean-Baptiste Blondin and Maria Rose Limoges Blondin, worked as the domestic servant of a village merchant when she was young.  The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame educated young Esther, who became a novice in the order yet had to abandon that plan, due to bad health.

Blondin became concerned about how best to reduce rates of illiteracy in her area.  In 1833 she began to teach at a parochial school in Vaudreuil.  Eventually our saint rose to lead that institution.  Blondin concluded that, in her geographical area, illiteracy was commonplace because only men could teach girls most effectively.  Therefore two parochial schools per parish were ideal.  However, some parishes were too poor to have even one parochial school, and many who could one did not have one.  Our saint founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne in 1850 for the purpose of teaching impoverished girls.

Blondin, unlike founders of many other religious orders, did not preside over her order for long.  She struggled with meddling by the chaplain, Father Louis Adolphe Marechal.  He lied about her, accusing our saint of financial mismanagement.  Marechal had Blondin demoted to Directress of the St. Genevieve Convent then recalled to the mother house in 1858.  At the mother house our saint endured many indignities.  She had to perform menial tasks.  Also, the sisters could not address her as “Mother,” for Marechal had imposed that rule.  Blondin endured all this for the good of the order and those it served.  She died of natural causes at Lachine, Quebec, on January 2, 1890.  She was 80 years old.

Eventually the Roman Catholic Church rehabilitated Blondin’s reputation.  Pope John Paul II declared her a Venerable in 1991 then a Blessed ten years later.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

So says an inaccurate chant.  According to ancient Jewish mythology, God spoke the universe into existence.  As bad as killing someone is, assassinating one’s character can be at least as bad.  One might think of people falsely accused of a crime–perhaps even convicted in a court of law–but certainly convicted in the court of public opinion.  As bad as this has always been, it is worse in a digital age, due to the accessibility of news stories (even partial and discredited ones) via websites.  In this digital age, old and inaccurate stories haunt people more than in previous times.  The timeless commandment against not bearing false witness becomes more urgent than ever.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 11, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NATHAN SODERBLOM, SWEDISH ECUMENIST AND ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Maria Anne Blondin,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

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Feast of Venerable Cornelia Connelly (April 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Venerable Cornelia Connelly

Image in the Public Domain

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VENERABLE CORNELIA PEACOCK CONNELLY (JANUARY 15, 1809-APRIL 18, 1879)

Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus

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I belong all to God.

–Venerable Cornelia Connelly

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The spiritual pilgrimage of the Venerable Cornelia Connelly entailed learning to distinguish between the wishes of her husband and the call of God on her life.  Cornelia Peacock, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 15, 1809, grew up a Presbyterian.  In 1831 she married Pierce Connelly (1804-1883), an Episcopal priest.  In 1835 the Connellys converted to Roman Catholicism, for Pierce had become convinced that Holy Mother Church was the true church.  By 1839 husband and wife were teaching in rural church-operated schools in Louisiana.  Soon hardships visited the family.  Their fourth child, Mary Magdalene, died at the age of seven weeks in 1840.  Shortly thereafter, John Henry, their two-year-old son, died on February 2 (the Feast of the Presentation), of injuries he had suffered after a dog had pushed him into a vat of boiling cane juice.  Later in 1840, when Cornelia was pregnant with Adeline, her fifth child, Pierce announced that he had decided to study for the priesthood.  This started the process of breaking up the family, for he would have to take a vow of celibacy to become a Roman Catholic priest.

Cornelia eventually accepted her husband’s decree as being consistent with the will of God.  Certainly God worked through Pierce’s decree for the good of many, including Cornelia.  (She was better off without him.)  In 1843 Pierce was in Rome, studying under the guidance of Pope Gregory XVI.  Cornelia and the children joined him in the Eternal City and resided at the Sacred Heart Convent on Trinita de Monte.  Pierce visited once a week; the marriage was functionally over.  Soon the couple separated formally.  In 1845 Pierce became a priest and Cornelia took a vow of celibacy.  She built a new life in England, where Roman Catholicism, recently emancipated, was reviving and rebuilding.  In 1846 she began to work in the field of education of girls and assumed leadership of a new convent school at Derby.  The following year she founded and became the superior of the new Society of the Holy Child Jesus.  Our saint told the nuns:

As you step through the muddy streets, love God with your feet; and when your hands toil, love Him with your hands; and when you teach the little children, love Him in His little ones.

Pierce had a vindictive aspect to his character.  In 1848, when he arrived in England, Cornelia told him to leave.  He took three of their children out of the new order’s school without Cornelia’s permission, posed as the co-founder of the Society, and sued (in an Anglican court) for his conjugal rights.  (He was supposed to be a celibate priest, according to his vows.)  Eventually the court sided with Cornelia.  Then Pierce resigned from the Roman Catholic priesthood, turned against Holy Mother Church, took all but one child (a painter, who remained loyal to his mother) to the United States, and turned them against our saint.  Pierce spent the rest of his life defaming Cornelia’s character and writing and publishing anti-Roman Catholic tirades.

Cornelia, who suffered emotionally due to the alienation from most of her family and the published attacks of her character, served as the superior of the Society for more than three decades.  She oversaw the founding of schools in England, France, and the United States, and promoted the education of young women.  Physical suffering (in the form of eczema) marred her final few years.  Our saint died, aged 70 years, at St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, on April 18, 1879.

Pope John Paul II declared Cornelia a Venerable in 1992.

The passage of time has rendered its verdict in favor of Cornelia, as opposed to Pierce.  She, as a nun, was married to Jesus, certainly a better husband.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 10, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SCHEFFLER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN HINES, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Venerable Cornelia Connelly,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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Feast of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres (April 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Church of the Holy Communion, New York, New York

Image Source = New York Public Library

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HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 6, 1711-OCTOBER 7, 1787)

Patriarch of American Lutheranism

His feast day transferred from October 7

great-grandfather of

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 16, 1796-APRIL 8, 1877)

Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgical Pioneer

colleague of

ANNE AYRES (JANUARY 3, 1816-1896)

Foundress of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion

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One church, one book.

–Henry Melchior Muhlenberg

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October 7 is the feast day of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and The Lutheran Church–Canada.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (The Episcopal Church, 2016) lists William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayres on April 8.  However, since one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences, I have merged the commemorations.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg became the Patriarch of American Lutheranism.  He, born at Einbeck, Saxony, on September 6, 1711, attended the University of Gottingen.  Then our saint taught in the orphanage at Halle for 15 months.  He wanted to become a missionary to India, but became a pastor in Grosshennersdorf, Saxony, instead.  In September 1741 Muhlenberg visited Halle.  Soon thereafter he was en route to America, sent there by pastor August Herman Francke, who had also sent other missionaries to the New World.

Lutheranism was in a sorry state in America.  There was little organization above the parish level, liturgies varied widely, there were no firm standards for become an ordained minister, and adjacent Lutheran churches frequently had little to do with each other.  In 1741 Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon Lutheran layman and Moravian bishop, was visiting America.  While in Pennsylvania, he functioned as a Lutheran pastor at Philadelphia, creating a controversy in the church there.

Muhlenberg had a difficult set of tasks to complete.  His motto was Ecclesia Plantanda, or

The Church Must Be Planted.

Our saint arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1742.  Then he spent a week with the Jerusalem Lutheran Church at Ebenzezer, Georgia.  Muhlenberg arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 1742.  Within a month he had ousted Zinzendorf from the pulpit.  On December 27, 1742, Muhlenberg became the pastor of several congregations.  He went on, within a year, to found a school per congregation and to found new churches.

During the following decades Muhlenberg planted and organized the church.  He founded new congregations, fostered unity among them, and established standards for ordination.  On August 26, 1748, at St. Michael’s Church, Philadelphia, ministers from 10 of the 70 Lutheran congregations in North America formed “The United Preachers of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of German Nationality in These American Colonies, Especially Pennsylvania,” the first synod.  In 1781, with the adoption of a constitution, the synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in North America.  The ministerium gave rise to other synods, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in the State of New-York and Adjacent States and Countries (1786), led by John Christopher Kunze, Muhlenberg’s son-in-law.  The original synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States in 1792.

Muhlenberg did much to build up the Ministerium in North America/of Pennsylvania.  He traveled from the northeast to Georgia.  In 1751 and 1752 he spent much time in New York City, where the dispute over what the proper language for worship should be had created divisions.  Our saint, who prioritized the Gospel of Jesus Christ over languages, preached in English, Dutch, and German every Sunday for months.  Over the years he struggled with Lutheran disunity; many Lutheran ministers did not relate to Halle, as he did.  Our saint also prepared a hymnal late in life.

On the personal side, Muhlenberg married Anna Mary Weiser, daughter of Indian agent Conrad Weiser, in April 1745.  Three of their sons became Lutheran ministers.  Although our saint ranged from Loyalism to neutrality during the American Revolutionary period, two of his sons (both of them ministers) chose to fight under the command of George Washington.  Peter (in full, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, 1746-1807) went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with Frederick (in full, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, 1750-1801), the first Speaker of the House.

Our saint died at Trappe, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1787.  He was 76 years old.

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Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, had a son named Henry William Muhlenberg, who became a wine merchant in Philadelphia.  Henry William married Mary Sheefe.  The couple welcomed William Augustus Muhlenberg into the world on September 16, 1796.  He became a figure to rival his great-grandfather in terms of ecclesiastical importance.

William Augustus Muhlenberg, raised in a Lutheran home, became an influential Episcopal priest.  He studied at the University of Pennsylvania from 1812 to 1815, graduating as the English-language salutation.  His affinity for the English language, especially in worship, led him to join The Episcopal Church.  Such conversions were common at a time when German was the preferred language of worship in many Lutheran congregations, the leaders of which referred those who preferred to worship in English to Episcopal churches.  Muhlenberg became a priest, serving first as the assistant at Christ Church, Philadelphia, from 1817 to 1822.  (The rector of the parish was William White, also the Bishop and Pennsylvania and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.)  Then, for a few years, Muhlenberg was the Rector of St. James’s Church, Lancaster.  There he opened the first public school in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia.  Meanwhile, our saint had published a case for singing hymns instead of the traditional metrical Psalms.  Thus he served on the committee for the Prayer Book Collection (1826), an early Episcopal hymnal.

In 1826 Muhlenberg relocated to New York.  He became the Rector of St. George’s Church, Flushing, Long Island.  There he founded the Flushing Institute (later St. Paul’s College), which made him nationally famous for his advocacy of progressive educational methods.  At St. George’s Church Muhlenberg was a pioneer in liturgical renewal.  His church had vested choirs, candles and flowers on the altar, and greenery at Christmas.  If that were not enough, the church sang Christmas carols.  This was groundbreaking in a culture in which much of the dominant Protestant ethos did not support celebrating Christmas.

Muhlenberg received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Columbia College, New York, New York, in 1834.

In 1845 Muhlenberg founded the Church of the Holy Communion in the City of New York.  The architect of the edifice (dedicated in 1846) was Richard Upjohn (1802-1878).  Muhlenberg’s sister, the wealthy widow Mary A. Rogers, financed the construction of the building and much of the parish’s budget for years.  This patronage enabled the church to minister to members of all social classes; that was a priority for the priest and his sister.  One of the novelties at the Church of the Holy Communion was free pews–no pew rentals.  Our saint was also a pioneer in the Sunday School movement; the parish schools reflected this fact.  The church also offered unemployment benefits, operated an employment agency, provided medical services, and offered English-language classes.  Furthermore, the liturgical life of the parish was more advanced than at other churches.  Communion services were weekly, Morning and Evening Prayer were daily, Holy Week was a priority, and the choirs there were the first vested choirs in the city.  Beyond that, the use of colors, flowers, and music to increase the beauty of worship was influential.

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The parish dispensary became the genesis of St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City.  Muhlenberg served as the Superintendent and Chaplain there from 1858 to 1877.  He and Anne Ayres, a member of his congregation, founded the institution.

Ayres, born in London, England, on January 3, 1816, arrived in New York City in 1836.  For a few years she tutored children of the wealthy, but Muhlenberg’s influence prompted her to change the direction of her life.  In 1845 she and Muhlenberg founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, dedicated to providing social services.  For many years members of the Sisterhood performed most of the nursing duties at St. Luke’s Hospital.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion was the first Anglican order for women founded in North America.

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Muhlenberg was an ecumenist.  In 1853 he presented a proposal before the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.  Our saint, convinced that the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer (1789) were too rigid, proposed Articles of Union with Protestant bodies in a confederation, complete with Apostolic Succession.  The requirements were:

  1. The Apostles’ Creed;
  2. Ordination not repugnant to the Word of God;
  3. Common hymns, prayers, and Biblical readings; and
  4. A council on common affairs.

This proposal, the natural successor to The Evangelical Catholic (1851-1853), Muhlenberg’s monthly journal, went down in failure.  It did, however, influence the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886, 1888):

  1. The Old and New Testaments as scripture,
  2. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds,
  3. The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and
  4. Apostolic Succession.

In 1868 Muhlenberg served on a committee to discuss revising The Book of Common Prayer (1789).  Revision had to wait, however; the next edition debuted in 1892.

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Muhlenberg, who wrote hymns, chose to remain unmarried, so that he could have more time for ministry.  His theology was something science did not threaten; he did not oppose Evolution.  His priorities in ministry reflected his proto-Social Gospel ethos.  Among his final projects (with Anne Ayres) was St. Johnland, an intentional community for members of the working class on Long Island, away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.  There were family homes, group homes, businesses, a library, a church, et cetera.  Muhlenberg helped to finance St. Johnland.

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Muhlenberg died in New York City on April 8, 1877.  He was 80 years old.

Anne Ayres died in New York City on February 9, 1896.  She was 80 years old.

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The Ministeriums of Pennnsylvania and New York survived into the 1960s, when they, as part of The United Lutheran Church in America, merged into the Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg’s dream of a common liturgy for North American Lutherans has never become a reality.  The closest it came to reality was the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), which, by the way, borrowed heavily from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), in development at the same time.

The Church of the Holy Communion closed in 1975 and merged with Calvary Episcopal Church and St. George’s Episcopal Church.  Since then the edifice has housed a series of establishments, including two night clubs (one of them notorious), an upscale store, and a gymnasium.

The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion ceased to exist in 1940.

St. Luke’s Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital merged in 1979.

St. Johnland survives as a nursing center.

Flowers and altar candles remain familiar sites in Episcopal hymnals.

The Episcopal Church has made the transition from metrical Psalms to hymns.

The Episcopal Church has entered into full communion agreements with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in America.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres did much to glorify God, build up the church, and benefit many people.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, POPE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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