Archive for the ‘Benjamin Franklin’ Tag

Feast of Benjamin Lay (January 22)   3 comments

Above:  Portrait of Benjamin Lay (1750), by William Williams

Image in the Public Domain



American Quaker and Abolitionist

Benjamin Lay comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via historical accounts.

The association of Quakers with the movement to abolish race-based chattel slavery in North America has deep historical roots.  Yet the historical record reveals that this association did not exist from day one.  This may seem odd, given the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light.  The historical record also indicates that Lay did much to popularize opposition to race-based chattel slavery among members of the Religious Society of Friends.

Lay was a man far ahead of his time.

Benjamin Lay, born in Copland, England, on January 26, 1682, was a radical.  The family belonged to the working class.  Young Benjamin worked as a shepherd and a glove-maker.  He converted to the Religious Society of Friends, perhaps the most radical version of Protestantism.  When 21 years old, our saint became a sailor.  No later than 1718, he married Sarah Smith.  The Lays moved to Barbados, where our saint worked as a merchant.  The majority of settlers supported race-based chattel slavery, from which they benefited financially.  Lay, already a radical, opposed human trafficking, though.  This position made him unpopular in Barbados.

This position also made him unpopular in Pennsylvania, where he and Sarah settled in 1731.  The Lays arrived in Philadelphia before eventually moving to Abington.  Some Quaker fellowships, alarmed the Lays’ position on slavery, made the couple unwelcome.

Lay was unusual.  He was, objectively, odd, relative to the majority of his neighbors.  The may, about four feet tall, had a hunchback.  His arms and legs were the same length as each other.  “Little Benjamin,” as our saint referred to himself, lived in a cave with his wife.  After Sarah died, he lived in that cave as a hermit.  Our saint, who respected animals, was a vegetarian.  He drank only water and milk.  The Lays tended goats and fruit trees, spun flax, made their own clothes, and were as close to self-sufficient as possible.  They refused to wear any garment that entailed either slavery or the killing of an animal.  The couple was also bookish; they kept about 200 books in their cave.

Lay also wrote and published on topics that concerned him.  These topics concerned the prison system, slavery, the death penalty, and the leaders of the colony.  Lay mostly wrote pamphlets, but he did write a book.  Benjamin Franklin, a frequent visitor to the cave, published All Slave-Keepers That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates (1737).  Franklin had acquired two slaves, Peter and Jemima, in time.  Yet Lay persuaded that Founding Father to free Peter and Jemima in his will.

Lay, 77 years old, died in Abington, Pennsylvania, on February 8, 1759.  He remained an inspiration for abolitionist Quakers for a long time after his decease.










Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil

and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Benjamin Lay] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37


Feast of Samuel Johnson, Timothy Cutler, Daniel Browne, and James Wetmore (August 17)   2 comments

Founders of Yale University

Above:  Founders of Yale University

Image in the Public Domain



Congregationalist Minister, Anglican Priest, Philosopher, President of King’s College, “Father of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut,” and “Father of American Library Classification”


TIMOTHY CUTLER (MAY 31, 1684-AUGUST 17, 1765)

Congregationalist Minister, Rector of Yale College, and Anglican Priest


DANIEL BROWNE (APRIL 26, 1698-APRIL 13, 1723)

Educator, Congregationalist Minister, and Anglican Priest


JAMES WETMORE (SR.) (DECEMBER 31, 1695-MAY 15, 1760)

Congregationalist Minister and Anglican Priest




The Episcopal Church celebrates the lives of Samuel Johnson, Timothy Cutler, and Thomas Bradbury Chandler on August 17.  That is a logical grouping of saints, for they worked toward the goal of the establishment of the Anglican episcopate in North America.  Furthermore, Johnson and Cutler were friends, and Johnson taught and mentored Chandler.  However, I, for other logical reasons, have assigned a Chandler the feast day of May 17 and grouped him with two Episcopal bishops in his family tree.  Furthermore, here at the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I have expanded the grouping of Johnson and Cutler to include Daniel Browne and James Wetmore (Sr.), thereby commemorating the Congregationalist ministers from New England who became Anglican priests in March 1723.


SAMUEL JOHNSON (1696-1772) I


The name “Samuel Johnson” is commonplace.  A perusal of entries in old encyclopedias reveals the existence of several prominent Samuel Johnsons over time and on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  One might think first of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the great English poet, lexicographer, and essayist who noted in 1775 that

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,

thereby condemning false patriotism.  One might also think also of the Reverend Samuel Johnson (1822-1882), an American Transcendentalist, minister, and hymnodist who found the American Unitarian Association (1825-1961) too theologically rigid.  (He would fit in well in the Unitarian Universalist Association today.)  Or one might recall other noteworthy Samuel Johnsons, such as Dr. Samuel William Johnson (1830-1909), a prominent American chemist.  The Samuel Johnson I add to the Ecumenical Calendar today is the American clergyman and educational pioneer, however.

Samuel Johnson

Image in the Public Domain

Samuel Johnson, born on October 14, 1696, was a native of Guilford, Connecticut.  His parents were Samuel Johnson (1670-1726), a fuller and a Congregationalist deacon, and Mary Sage Johnson (1672-1726).  The couple had twelve children, at least five of whom lived to adulthood.  Our saint was the third of their children.  William Johnson (1630-1702), also a Congregationalist deacon, was our saint’s grandfather.  The grandfather taught the grandson how to read English and Hebrew and guided him in committing the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and other portions of scripture to memory.  All this happened through Johnson’s sixth year of life.  The elder Samuel Johnson sought properly challenging educational opportunities for his bookish son.  Some of them proved more helpful than others.  Finally, at age 14, our saint, having mastered both Latin and Greek and having proved to be too much for some teachers, began his studies at the relatively new Collegiate School at Saybrook (founded in 1701), which became Yale College then Yale University.  He graduated four years (in 1714) later with his A.M. degree, having commenced work as a teacher at the grammar school in Guilford in 1713.

Johnson was quite a scholarly young man.  He did, for example, complete the Revised Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1716), unpublished.  Then he became a Yale tutor during a time of schism in the college.  From 1716 to 1718 Johnson was the only faculty member and administrator at New Haven, Connecticut, teaching fifteen students and laboring with the assistance of a minister.  Our saint was also cataloging the 800 books colonial agent Jeremiah Dummer (1681-1739) had donated to the college library in 1714.  This process continued until 1719.  These volumes included works by Enlightenment figures such as Rene Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (1632-1704), and Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727).  Such material was, according to the dominant Puritan orthodoxy of the college, forbidden, corrupting, and faith-destroying.  The process of cataloging the books expanded Johnson’s mind, and he, without permission, introduced the forbidden knowledge into the curriculum at New Haven.


DANIEL BROWNE (1698-1723) I


In 1618 Daniel Browne became the second tutor at New Haven, joining Johnson on the faculty.  He, born at New Haven on April 26, 1698, had been a classmate of Johnson, graduating at the age of 16 1/2 in 1715.  Next Browne had worked as the assistant to Samuel Hopkins, the Rector of the Hopkins Grammar School, New Haven, for a year, then as Hopkins’s successor for two years.  Browne worked as a tutor at New Haven for four years.

The Yale schism ended in 1719, with Johnson become the sacrificial victim.  Did he resign or did his superiors fire him?  It was a distinction without a difference.  Timothy Cutler became the new college rector, with Browne as the only other faculty member.  Johnson, ordained a Congregationalist minister in 1720, remained in the immediate vicinity, serving at West Haven.  Cutler, his friend, permitted him to design the college curriculum.

A vital aspect of the context of the Yale-related content in this post is that the intention of Yale’s founders in 1701 was to establish an educational institution which would be a conservative alternative–a bastion of Puritan orthodoxy–in contrast to Harvard College, which many New England Puritans considered to be too liberal.  Yet Yale began to liberalize before the end of its second decade of existence.


TIMOTHY CUTLER (1684-1765) I


Timothy Cutler

Image in the Public Domain

Timothy Cutler, born at Charlestown, Massachusetts, on May 31, 1684, was a son of John Cutler (1650-1708) and Martha Wiswall Cutler (b. 1645).  The family had Jacobite sympathies.  Our saint, baptized in 1684,  graduated from Harvard College in 1701, at the age of 17 years.  Four years later he joined the Congregational Church at Charlestown.  Shortly thereafter the Congregational Church at Dartmouth, Massachusetts, invited him to become their minister, but he declined, citing parish dynamics.  In 1709, however, he accepted an offer to become the minister at Stratford, Connecticut; he was especially interested in combating the Anglican presence in the community.  The following year Cutler married Elizabeth Andrew (1690-1771), daughter of the Reverend Samuel Andrew, the Acting Rector of the Collegiate School at Saybrook.  Our saint and his wife had seven children from 1711 to 1724; five of them lived to adulthood.

Circa 1720 seven respected Congregationalist ministers formed a group to study the early church.  They were:

  1. Timothy Cutler;
  2. Samuel Johnson;
  3. Daniel Browne;
  4. Jared Eliot (1685-1763), minister at Killingworth and one of Johnson’s former teachers;
  5. John Hart (1682-1732), minister at East Guilford;
  6. Samuel Whittesley (1686-1752), minister at Wallingsford; and
  7. James Wetmore (Sr.) (1695-1760).


JAMES WETMORE (SR.) (1695-1760) I


James Wetmore (Sr.), born on December 31, 1695, was a son of the Reverend Izrahiah Wetmore (Sr.) (1656-1743) and Rachel Stow Wetmore (1666-1722), of Middletown, Connecticut.  Our saint, the third of nine children, at least seven of which lived to adulthood, came from a civic-minded family.  His father was not only a minister but a magistrate and a deputy of the General Court.  Wetmore, a classmate of Johnson at Yale, graduated from the college with his A.B. degree in 1714 and his A.M. degree three years later.  This saint became a Congregationalist minister in 1718 and served at North Haven, Connecticut, for four years.  Also in 1718 he married Anne Dwight (1697-1771).  They had six children from 1727 to 1737.




On September 13, 1722, the seven ministers presented the conclusion of their study of the early church in writing to the Trustees of Yale College.  Some of these clergymen were certain of the invalidity of their orders and others merely harbored doubts due to the lack of “visible communion with an Episcopal Church.”  This, the “Great Apostasy” at Yale College, founded as a bulwark of Puritan orthodoxy in contrast to the relatively liberal Harvard College, proved controversial in New England.  Three of the ministers recanted under pressure, but Johnson, Cutler, Browne, and Wetmore (Sr.) lost their positions.  By the end of the year they departed for England, where in March 1723, they became priests of the The Church of England.


DANIEL BROWNE (1698-1723) II


Browne, a bachelor, died of smallpox in London on April 13, 1723.  He was 24 years old.  In 1765, the Reverend Ezra Stiles (1722-1795), the President of Yale College from 1778 to 1795, wrote of Browne:

He was a gentleman of the most superior sense and learning of the four.




Wetmore (Sr.), Cutler, and Johnson remained in England for much of the year.  Johnson and Cutler received honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  The three men returned to North America under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG).

Cutler went to Boston, Massachusetts, where, at the end of 1723, he held the first service at Christ Church, or Old North Church, of Midnight Ride of Paul Revere fame.  He served as the rector of the parish for the reset of his life.  He also founded other congregations, advocated for the advocacy of the Anglican episcopate in North America, criticized revivalism, founded an Anglican library in Boston, and resisted the Puritan theocracy in New England.  In April 1756 Cutler suffered a stroke.  The assistant priest assumed many of his duties.  Our saint died at Boston on August 17, 1765, aged 81 years.


JAMES WETMORE (SR.) (1695-1760) II


Wetmore became the Rector of Grace Church, Rye, New York, in 1726.  He served there for the rest of his life, dying on May 15, 1760.

A son, James Wetmore (Jr.), seems to have been a Loyalist, for he, born at Rye in 1727, died in Kings County, New Brunswick, in 1798.

Grace Church, Rye, became Christ’s Church, Rye, in 1795.




Johnson returned to Connecticut.  He founded Christ Church, Stratford, the first parish in the colony.  By 1752 he had founded 24 more congregations, becoming the “Father of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut.”  He was an ardent controversialist, engaging in written conflict with Puritans via pamphlets, starting in 1733.  Johnson, like Cutler, resisted the Puritan theocracy in New England, argued against revivalism and the (First) Great Awakening, and lobbied for the establishment of the Anglican episcopate in North America.  The last matter was controversial, for many Congregationalists and Presbyterians considered it contrary to scripture and politically perilous, and many Southern Anglicans enjoyed their relative independence.

Johnson married twice and became a widower as many times.  His first wife was Charity Nicoll (1692-1758), a widow.  Thus our saint became a stepfather on September 26, 1725.  He raised William Nicoll (1715-1780) and Benjamin Nicoll (1718-1760) as if they were his own sons.  Charity and our saint had two sons, William Samuel Johnson (1727-1819) and William Johnson (1730-1760).  The younger son died of smallpox in England.  William Samuel Johnson opposed the Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend Duty Act (1767) actively and served as the colonial agent for Connecticut from 1767 to 1771.  He became convinced that the U.S. War for Independence was both unnecessary and unwise yet made his peace with the result of the conflict.  He served in the Confederation Congress from 1785 to 1787, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1787), presided over the drafting of the document, signed the Constitution, served as President of Columbia College, New York, from 1787 to 1800, and was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut from 1789 to 1791.  His wife (from 1749) was Elizabeth Ann Beach (1729-1796), daughter of William Beach (1694-1751), a businessman of Stratford, and his wife, Sarah Hull Beach (1701-1763).  Charity died on June 1, 1758.

Johnson’s second wife (from 1761) was Sarah Hull Beach (1701-1763), who died of smallpox on February 9, 1763.

Johnson continued to be an educator.  He opened a school at Stratford in 1723.  For decades he also operated a home-based seminary for students at Yale, educating and training 63 priests.  He also developed a system of classifying library books, hence his title, “Father of American Library Classification.”  In the early 1700s our saint redefined the curriculum at Yale College again, for it had reverted to an earlier state after the “Great Apostasy” of 1722.  In 1729-1731 Joseph Berkeley (1685-1753), later the Bishop of Cloyne, visited New England.  Johnson met him then and convinced him to donate land, money, and books to Yale College.  Our saint also became enamored of Berkeley’s philosophy, immaterialism.  The two men corresponded for decades.  Johnson, who received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford University in 1743, wrote and revised his textbook of moral philosophy several times.  The basis of his philosophy was the pursuit of happiness rooted in realism with regard to how things are.

Johnson, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the leaders Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York, and others spent years discussing details of founding a “new model” college.  There would be no religious test for admission.  Instruction would be in English, not Latin.  The study of theology would be optional, but the study of moral philosophy would be mandatory.  There would be a focus on professional preparation, and the curriculum would include the new discipline of English literature.  The result of these conversations was King’s College, later Columbia College then Columbia University, New York.  Some Presbyterians in the colonial government of New York tried to prevent the chartering of the college, labeling it an insidious Anglican plot.  The royal charter came through in 1754, however.  Johnson served as a professor and the first president, retiring in 1763, after the death of his second wife.

Johnson’s retirement (1732-1772) was active.  He returned to the office of Rector of Christ Church, Stratford, and performed his duties faithfully.  He also reopened his home-based seminary for students at Yale College.  Our saint also taught his grandsons William and Charles to read English and Latin, as his grandfather had instructed him.  Johnson wrote the first American grammars of the English and Hebrew languages and dedicated them to his grandsons.

Johnson’s accomplishments caught the attention of his English contemporary, Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the essayist, poet, and lexicographer, who was a friend of William Samuel Johnson (1727-1819).

Samuel Johnson, the American, died on January 6, 1772, the Feast of the Epiphany.  He was 75 years old.




I realize, O reader, that I have asked you to follow some proverbial bouncing balls, but that is simply the nature of the material.  The legacies of Johnson, Cutler, and Wetmore are obvious.  That of Browne, however, is incomplete, due to circumstances beyond his control.  If he had lived he would have done much for the glory of God and the expansion of The Church of England.







God of history, science, art, philosophy, and majesty, we thank you for the faithful quests of

Samuel Johnson, Timothy Cutler, Daniel Browne, and James Wetmore (Sr.),

whose intellectual inquisitiveness and fidelity to you led them to pursue Anglican Holy Orders.

May we never fear new knowledge.

May we seek the truths of you wherever we can find them

then pursue paths consistent with them,

for your glory and benefit of your people;

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

–Kenneth Randolph Taylor, May 3, 2016 Common Era


Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24:1-8

Psalm 32:8-12

1 Peter 2:1-10

Matthew 16:13-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 531


Feast of John Worthington, John Antes, Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Christian Ignatius LaTrobe, Peter, LaTrobe, Johann Christopher Pyrlaeus, and Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg (November 3)   7 comments

November 3 Saints

Above:  Relations and Influences–A Useful and Partial Guide

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



British Moravian Minister and Composer


JOHN ANTES (MARCH 24, 1740-DECEMBER 17, 1811)

U.S. Moravian Instrument Maker, Composer, and Missionary

Brother-in-Law of


British Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer

Father of


British Moravian Composer

Father of


British Moravian Bishop and Composer



Moravian Missionary and Musician



Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer


This post is an outgrowth of a research project I call Liturgy in the Moravian Church in America, the Prologue to and Part I of which I have posted at BLOGA THEOLOGICA.  Having read them (especially Part I) will improve the comprehension of this material.  Reading and note-taking for Part II (scheduled to cover 1735-1848) are in progress.  In fact, work on this project overlaps with that effort.

Recently I wrote names out of a wonderful book, The Music of the Moravian Church in America (2008), Nola Reed Knouse, Editor.  More recently I started taking notes on one man–John Worthington, whom I had penciled in for consideration for a slot on November 3 on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  His biography led me to another person, which led me a third, et cetera.  The process ended with seven saints sharing one post.  I could have made it at least eight or nine, but a reader absorbs enough details without the author going further into the material in this post.  But, just in case you wonder, O reader, I plan note-taking sessions on Christian Gregor and Frederick William Foster, numbers eight and nine, respectively.  At the heart of the web of relationships and influences on which I focus in this post is a family tree.  This fact ought to remind one of the importance of family in nourishing and continuing the faith.  There are also three people outside the family tree yet crucial to the story I am telling.  This reality ought to remind one of the importance of other human relationships in influencing people, hopefully for the positive.

Perhaps the best way to commence the historical narrative is with Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg (1704-1892).  Some sources among the Moravian books I consulted gave his first name as Augustus, some as August, and others as both, depending on the page.  He is, for my purposes, Augustus, which sounds properly Germanic.  Spangenberg was, of course, German, from the state of Saxony, to be precise.  (Germany was a cultural, not a political, designation prior to 1871.)  He, the son of a Lutheran minister, studied theology at the University of Jena starting in 1721.  He taught at Halle in 1732-1733 then became a Moravian at Herrnhut, on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) near Berhtelsdorf, Saxony.  Spangenberg became a trusted aide to the Count.

Spangenberg was a foundational figure in the Renewed Unitas Fratrum (1727-).  He traveled the world on church business, even leading a group to settle in Georgia in 1735.  The Georgia mission (1735-1779) was never successful.  Disputes internal and external (with the Lutherans at Ebenezer) contributed greatly to the Savannah Moravians’ troubles, but the domestic politics of the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-1748) made matters worse.  Georgia was a military colony on one of the borders between the British and Spanish Empires.  The Georgia Moravians, being pacifists, refused to take up arms against anyone–especially the Spanish enemies.  (Governments tend to dislike people who refuse to fight the enemy.)  Most of the Moravians in Georgia left for Pennsylvania in 1740.  There, the following year, they founded the settlement of Nazareth.  The second Moravian mission in Georgia, by the way, was to Native people.  It started in 1800 and ended with Indian Removal in the 1830s.

Spangenberg traveled widely on Moravian Church business after 1735.  In the late 1730s alone his itinerary included Pennsylvania and St. Thomas.  And, in 1742, he founded the first Moravian settlement in England.  Spangenberg, back in America, became the bishop for North America in 1744.  He left for Herrnhut in 1762 to sit on the Church’s governing council and help to stabilize the denomination in the wake of the death of Count Zinzendorf (1760).  Spangenberg retired in 1791 and died the following year.

Spangenberg, known for his compassion, left a written and musical legacy:

  1. His writings included The Life of Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (three volumes, 1772-1774; English translation, 1838) and the Exposition of Christian Doctrine (1782, English translation, 1784, by Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Sr.).
  2. In 1744 the bishop founded the collegium musicum at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  This, according to my specialized sources, was his greatest musical legacy.  A collegium musicum is a small musical ensemble which fills a variety of functions.  It educates its participants, fills time which they might spend otherwise in dubious pursuits, provides wholesome entertainment, and serves a function in worship.  These roles were like circles in a Venn Diagram for, as a Moravian ethic says, all of life is liturgical.  The original collegium musicum formed at Herrnhut in 1731.  The early composition of the Bethlehem collegium musicum changed over time.  It started with horn players, added trumpeters the following year, and came to include a harpist and a violinist in 1752.  There were fourteen members in 1748.  The original leader was Johann Christopher Pyrlaeus (1713-1785), to whose story I will turn in this post.
  3. Some early organ music of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum (1727-) was elaborate.  Spangenberg considered this to be in bad taste and about virtuosity, not worship.  He encouraged excellent musicianship focused on glorifying God, not the performer.  As the bishop told a young church organist, Christian Ignatius LaTrobe (1758-1836), son of Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Sr., “Keep it simple.”
  4. Spangenberg composed hymn texts.  Among them were “When Simplicity We Cherish” (1740), “What Can We Offer Thee, O Lord” (1734), “High on His Everlasting Throne” (1737), and “The Church of Christ, Which He Hallowed Here” (1745).

Johann Christopher Pyrlaeus (1713-1785) studied music as a young person.  Then he studied theology at the University of Leipzig while Johann Sebastian Bach was there in town.  At Leipzig Pyrlaeus encountered Moravians and converted to the Unitas Fratrum.  That connection brought him to America–Pennsylvania, to be precise.

Pyrleaus had an eventful time in America.  In 1742, while Count Zinzendorf was serving as a Lutheran pastor in Philadelphia, Pyrlaeus worked as the Count’s assistant.  On one memorable Sunday in 1742, in fact, a drunken crown even drove Pyrleaus from the pulpit.  From 1743 to 1751 he served as a missionary to Native peoples, becoming the first Moravian musician to do so in the future United States.  Pyrleaus, a capable vocalist, organist, and instrumentalist, also translated many hymns into Mohican.  He also, at the request of Bishop Spangenberg, organized the first Moravian Indian-language school in the future United States.  And, as I have established, Pyrlaeus (from 1744 to 1751, when he returned to Europe) led the collegium musicum at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  He also provided early music lessons to John Antes (1740-1811).

John Antes was a son of Johann Heinrich (Anglicized as John Henry) Antes, the Baron von Blume (1701-1755), who had emigrated from Germany.  The Baron, originally of the Reformed Church, came to prefer the Moravian Church in Pennsylvania, so he converted in 1746.  Bishop Spangenberg baptized the American-born John Antes, who went on to make instruments, such as harpsichords and violins.  In 1759, in fact, he made one of the earliest violins in America.  Antes operated his own instrument-making business at Bethlehem from 1762 to 1764 then relocated to Europe for a few years.  He settled at Herrnhut in 1764 and moved to Neuweid the following year.  His European ventures proved unsuccessful, but he found a vocation as a missionary to Egypt (1769-1781) and an avocation as a composer.  Antes, toward the end of his tenure in Egypt (where he also made watches in Cairo), mailed a copy of his Three Trios to Benjamin Franklin, then an American diplomat in Paris.  Antes, the earliest American composer of chamber music, nearly died of torture at the hands of Ottoman imperial officials.  The part-time composer returned to Europe, where he spent the rest of his days, in 1782.  He was at Herrnhut (again) in 1782-1783.  Then, from 1783 to 1785 Antes served as the business manager of the congregation at Neuweid.  He filled the same role at Fulneck, England, from 1785 to 1808.  He died at Bristol, England, three years later.

Some of his music has survived.  Antes wrote the Three Trios, of course, but also more than thirty sacred vocal works.  The Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (1969) contains six of his hymn tunes.  Unfortunately, a set of his quartets is lost to history, to be best of human knowledge.  Hopefully they will join the ranks of music considered lost until someone identified a copy in a library or a collection somewhere.

Antes had a sister, Anna Margaretta (Anglicized as Anna Margaret) Antes (1728-1794), who married Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Sr. (1725-1786), father of the aforementioned Christian Ignatius LaTrobe (1758-1836).  Benjamin, Sr., a bishop in South Africa, served as a mission secretary and as a Provincial Elder from 1768 to 1786.  He also wrote and translated hymns.  He wrote, for example, “Jesus’ Name, Jesus’ Name” (1789).  Antes also translated a German text by his contemporary, Christian Gregor (1723-1801), a foundational figure in Moravian Church music, rendering a 1772 text in English as “The Lord Bless and Keep Thee in His Favor.”

Benjamin, Sr., and Anna Margaret had six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  Two of these were Benjamin Henry LaTrobe, Jr. (1764-1820) and Christian Ignatius LaTrobe (1758-1836).  Benjamin, Jr., an engineer and architect, moved to the United States, where he worked on the first waterworks system in Philadelphia, designed interiors (such as the Old Senate and House Chambers) of the rebuilt (post-War of 1812) U.S. Capitol building, and designed the Basilica of the Assumption at Baltimore.

Below:  Basilica of the Assumption, Baltimore, Maryland, Between 1980 and 2006

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-16726



Above:  Interior, Basilica of the Assumption, Baltimore, Maryland, Between 1980 and 2006

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-14279

Benjamin, Jr., the father of the U.S. architectural profession, died of yellow fever in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1820.

I will turn to Christian Ignatius LaTrobe shortly.

John Worthington (1725-1790) came under the positive influence of Benjamin, Sr.  Worthington, as a boy, sang in a choir at Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican) in his native Dublin, Ireland, until his voice changed.  Then he turned to gambling and to singing in coffeehouses (not that coffeehouses, where alcohol was absent and people met to discuss topics such as politics and philosophy, seem like disreputable institutions to me) before Benjamin, Sr., himself a musician of great renown, hired him as a music teacher.  Worthington converted to the Unitas Fratrum and became a minister, serving at Fulneck, England, in the 1750s, at Ockbrook, England, from 1769 to 1777, and finally at Dublin, Ireland, where he died.  He composed music, which Christian Ignatius LaTrobe observed, had a reputation for “simplicity and elegance.”

Christian Ignatius LaTrobe (1758-1836), educated in Germany from 1771 to 1778, taught at the Moravian school at Niesky from 1779 to 1784.  LaTrobe worked from London for many years, administering Moravian missions.  He retired in 1834, moved to Fairfield (near Manchester), and died two years later.  That was his life in broad strokes.

LaTrobe’s other great contribution was musical.  He, who knew luminaries such as Franz Joseph Haydn, was, at the time, the only Moravian Church composer with a reputation outside the Unitas Fratrum.  LaTrobe composed music for both the Moravian Church and the Church of England.  Works for the latter were more complex than those for the former.  As Bishop Spangenberg, in Europe from 1762 to 1792, had advised the young LaTrobe, who was once a church organist, “keep it simple.”  LaTrobe composed and arranged works for SATB choir, organ, strings, bassoon, oboe, and piano forte.  There were also “secular” (a term with less meaning in the Moravian Church than in other denominations), such as three piano sonatas, which he dedicated to his friend, Haydn.

LaTrobe’s volumes for the Moravian Church included:

  1. Hymn Tunes Sung in the Church of the United Brethren, Collected by Chrn. Igns. LaTrobe (1775);
  2. Hymn Tunes Sung in the Church of the United Brethren (1790); Moravian hymnals of the time had words only and church musicians used the tune books);
  3. Selection of Sacred Music (six volumes, 1806-1826), as Editor;
  4. Anthems for One, Two, or More Voices Performed in the Church of the United Brethren, Collected and the Instrumental Parts Adapted for the Organ or Piano Forte, Composed by Various Authors (1811);
  5. Hymn-Tunes Sung in the Church of the United Brethren, Collected by Chrn. Igns. LaTrobe; A New Edition Revised & Corrected with an Appendix (1826); and
  6. Original Anthems for One, Two, or More Voices Adopted for Private Devotion or Public Worship Composed and the Accompaniments Arranged for the Piano Forte or Organ (1828).

There were also nine organ preludes in an appendix to L. B. Seeley’s Devotional Harmony (1806).

LaTrobe also translated hymns into English.  Among them was a Christian Gregor (1723-1801) text, which LaTrobe rendered as “In This Sepulchral Eden.”

Among the children of Christian Ignatius LaTrobe and Hannah Benigna Syms LaTrobe (1758-1824) was Peter LaTrobe (1795-1863).  The Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923) contains one, “Sweeter Sounds.” lists two others, “Fairfield” and “Invitation.”  The London-born bishop, who died at Berthelsdorf, Saxony, near Herrnhut, the worldwide Moravian headquarters, married twice.  His first wife (1825-1839) was Mary Louisa Foster (1793-1839).  The second wife (1842-1863) was Jeanetta Margaret Brett, who survived him.  Peter’s first father-in-law was therefore Frederick William Foster (1760-1835), a British Moravian bishop (from 1814) and editor of the hymnal of 1801, its supplement of 1808 (and thus the composite 1809 edition) and the revised hymnal of 1826.  Peter updated his father’s 1826 volume, publishing Hymn-Tunes Sung in the Church of the United Brethren First Collected by Chr. Ign. LaTrobe; An Enlarged Edition, Arranged in Parts for the Use of Choirs (1854).

These saints, consistent with their Moravian ethos, contributed much via music, whether overtly Christian (as in anthems, hymns, and works of instruments in church) or merely beautiful and composed well.  As Philippians 4:8 (Revised Standard Version–Second Edition, 1971) says:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.








Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by their fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726