Archive for the ‘Johann Friedrich Peter’ Tag

Feast of Immanuel Nitschmann, Jacob Van Vleck, William Henry Van Vleck, Carl Anton Van Vleck, Lisette (Lizetta) Maria Van Vleck Meinung, and Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck (July 3)   2 comments

Nitschmann-Van Vlecks

Chart and Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN (APRIL 2, 1736-MARCH 25, 1790)

German-American Moravian Minister and Musician

brother-in-law of

JACOB VAN VLECK (MARCH 24, 1751-JULY 3, 1831)

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

father of 

WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK (NOVEMBER 14, 1790-JANUARY 19, 1853)

U.S. Moravian Bishop

brother of

CARL ANTON VAN VLECK (NOVEMBER 4, 1794-DECEMBER 21, 1845)

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

father of

LISETTE (LIZETTA) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG (APRIL 13, 1830-SEPTEMBER 19, 1914)

U.S. Moravian Composer and Educator

sister of

AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK (OCTOBER 18, 1835-AUGUST 20, 1929)

U.S. Moravian Composer and Educator

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With this post I add six members of one family to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  I had selected four people before I started taking notes.  Along the way I found a fifth Van Vleck and added a Nitschmann.  Reading about Immanuel Nitschmann has led led me to schedule another post–one about some of his other relatives, members of a leading family during the early period of the Renewed Moravian Church–for another month.  One should try to stay focused in each post, after all.

We begin, O reader, with Immanuel Nitschmann, born at Herrnhut, in Saxony, on April 2, 1736.  His parents were Bishop Johann (John) Nitschmann. Sr. (1703-1772), and Juliana Haberland Nitschmann (1712-1751), thus he came from a prominent family in the Moravian Church.  Immanuel, a minister, emigrated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1761.  Fortunately, he had plenty of time to devote to music.  He played the violin and the organ, copied much music (including symphonies and string quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn) for the collegium musicum, led rehearsals of that ensemble, and arranged arias for three violins, viola, and figured bass.  Our saint led the collegium musicum at Bethlehem from 1761 to 1773 and from 1780 to 1790.  Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) led the fifteen-member ensemble from 1773 to 1780.  Nitschmann died at Bethlehem on March 25, 1790.

Nitschmann married twice and had two children.  His first wife was Maria Price (1740-1783).  Wife number two was Maria Van Vleck (later Jones) (1757-1831), sister of our next saint, Jacob Van Vleck (1751-1831).

Jacob came from a Dutch family in New York.  He attended school at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, before studying theology at the Moravian seminary at Barby, Germany.  In 1778 our saint was back in the United States, serving as the assistant pastor in Bethlehem.  Two years later he became the superintendent of the girls’ school there.  From 1800 to 1812 Jacob served as the minister at Nazareth then at Lititz, Pennsylvania.  Then, in 1812, he succeeded Bishop Johannes Herbst (1735-1812) as pastor at Salem, North Carolina.  Three years later Jacob, a newly-minted bishop, returned to Bethlehem.  He died there on July 3, 1831.

Jacob Van Vleck–minister, musician, and educator–contributed to the lives of his communities.  He, a skilled performer of the violin and of keyboard instruments, led the collegium musicum at Bethlehem from 1790 to 1800, succeeding his brother-in-law, Immanuel Nitschmann.  Jacob also taught at Nazareth Hall, the boys’ school at Nazareth, from 1802 to 1809, and derived pleasure from studying the organ and playing for worship services.  He composed few works due to the demands of church duties on his time.  Nevertheless, Jacob’s compositions reveal his great talent.  Jacob’s wife was Anna Elizabeth Staeheli (1764-1829).  They had two sons, William Henry Van Vleck (1790-1853) and Carl Anton Van Vleck (1794-1845), both ministers.

William Henry Van Vleck, born at Bethlehem in 1790, was among the three original ministerial students at the Moravian Theological Seminary at Nazareth when it opened in 1807.  (Peter Wolle was also in that class.)  William Henry, ordained, served at Philadelphia, Nazareth, and New York City.  He, a bishop from 1836, moved to Salem, North Carolina.  He also served for a time a the Provincial Helpers’ Conference.  He, the husband of Anna Elizabeth Kampman (1785-1865), died at Bethlehem in 1853.

Carl Anton Van Vleck, born at Bethlehem in 1794, was a minister, composer, musician, and music educator.  He composed few pieces; his only known piano work was a brief rondo in F major.  Other compositions included “The Hope, the Star, the Voice,” “The Watch-Tower Light,” and “Early Friends.”  Our saint preferred, however, to teach music, so he focused on that activity.  He did at Greenville, Tennessee, on December 21, 1845.

Carl Anton married Christiana Susan Kramsch (1797-1877) and had four children–a son and three daughters.  After he died in 1845 Christiana and her children relocated to Salem, North, Carolina.  Two of the daughters–Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck (1835-1929) and Lisette (Lizetta) Maria Van Vleck (1830-1914)–became composers and music educators.

Rhode Island-born Lisette (Lizetta) was talented.  She sang her first solo at age two, in her father’s church.  Later she studied at the Moravian Young Ladies’ Seminary, Bethlehem.  In 1852, at Salem, our saint began to teach piano at the Salem Female Academy.  Sixteen years later she resigned then married Alexander C. Meinung (1823-1908), also a skilled musician.  The two of them taught music to many young people in Salem for decades.  She died at the newly-merged Winston-Salem on September 19, 1914.

Lisette (Lizetta) was a capable composer.  She wrote short pieces, such as polkas, waltzes, marches, and galops.  Her works included the “Nettie Galop,” the “Military Parade March,” the “Hannah Polka,” “Our Words of Love,” “Annie Schottisch,” the “Annie March,” and the “Laura Polka.”

Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck, born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1835, was also a prominent musician, music educator, and composer in Salem (later Winston-Salem).  “Miss Amy,” as people called her, matriculated at the Salem Female Academy in 1853.  She taught there after graduating.  For half a century our saint served as the organist at Home Moravian Church, Salem.  She also composed many works, such as the “Irma Waltz,” the “Centennial March” (1871, for the centennial of the founding of Home Moravian Church), the “Salem Band Waltz,” “The Unknown Soldier Boy,” “My Dear One’s Waltz,” “The River Waltz,” “Waltz,” “The Sky Lark,” “The Rainy Day,” “Colonel Belo’s March,” and “Lullaby”–all short pieces.  She died at Winston-Salem on August 20, 1929.

Music has long been one of the treasures of the Moravian Church.  The six saints I have added in this post glorified God in their lives.  Most of them did so, among other ways, via music.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

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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

Immanuel Nitschmann, Jacob Van Vleck, William Henry Vleck,

Carl Anton Van Vleck, Lisette (Lizetta) Maria Van Vleck Meinung, and Amelia Adelaide Van Vleck,

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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I corrected certain details on April 19, 2015.  The Nitschmann family tree can be a difficult puzzle to solve, especially given certain contradictory information and the repeated use of some combinations of first and last names.–KRT

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Feast of Jeremias Dencke, Simon Peter, and Johann Friedrich Peter (May 28)   4 comments

136305pv

Above:  Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, February 1969

Photographer = Jack E. Boucher

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS PA,48-BETH,2–4

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JEREMIAS DENCKE (OCTOBER 2, 1725-MAY 28, 1795)

Silesian-American Moravian Composer and Organist

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SIMON PETER (APRIL 2, 1743-MAY 29, 1819)

German-American Composer, Educator, Musician, and Minister

brother of

JOHANN FRIEDRICH PETER (MAY 19, 1746-JULY 13, 1813)

German-American Composer, Educator, Musician, and Minister

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This is a post about three important early American Composers–all of them Moravians and two of them pastors.  Their stories overlap, hence their inclusion in one post.

Our story begins with Jeremias Dencke (1725-1795), born in Langenbielau, Silesia.  He, a recent convert to the Moravian Church in 1748, moved to Herrnhut, the Moravian headquarters in Saxony.  There he served as an organist before emigrating to America in 1761 on the same boat with the father of our other two saints, Simon Peter (1743-1819) and Johann Friedrich Simon (1746-1813).  Five years later, for the occasion of the Provincial Synod at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Dencke composed the first piece of concerted church music in America; it was a work for chorus, strings, and organ.  Other major works from his oeuvre included three sets of sacred songs for soprano, organ, and strings.  Johann Friedrich Peter’s collection preserved these sets of sacred songs.  Dencke, probably the first composer of instrumentally accompanied sacred vocal music anyone composed in America, died at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on May 28, 1795.  He was fifty-nine years old.

The birthplace of the Peter brothers–Simon (1743-1819) and Johann Friedrich (1746-1813)–was Heerendijk, Holland.  They, educated in Europe, followed their father to America in 1770.  Both brothers were composers, musicians, educators, and pastors.

Johann Friedrich Simon (1746-1813) was the more prominent composer in the family.  This was due to where he worked, for Simon Peter (1743-1819) usually labored in churches and communities without fine instrumental ensembles and/or choirs.  When a church had a choir the vocal ensemble was usually small.  Thus his musical compositions were not as numerous as those of his brother, but he made up for the lack of quantity with a high standard of quality.  Among Simon’s works was an anthem, “Look, Ye, How My Servants Shall Be Feasting,” for the fiftieth anniversary of the Moravian arrival in North Carolina.

Both brothers’ American odyssey began in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where they arrived in 1770 to teach at Nazareth Hall, the boys’ school there.  Johann Friedrich left three years later, but Simon remained in Pennsylvania until 1784, when he moved to North Carolina.  He worked as a pastor, a music teacher, and a church administrator.  Among Simon’s pupils was Johann Christian Till (1762-1844), whom he mentored at Nazareth.  Simon proved crucial to arranging for Till, a nail maker and woodworker, to take music lessons during part of his (Till’s) lunch hours.  Till went on to become a schoolmaster, composer, piano builder, and musician.  In 1811 Till succeeded Johann Friedrich Peter as organist at Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Simon died at Salem, North Carolina, on May 29, 1819.

Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) went from being a pupil to a master teacher and a faithful servant of God in U.S. Moravian communities.  He also became the leading Moravian composer in the United States, for he had talent and opportunities to pursue it.  Johann Friedrich’s Moravian upbringing taught him that the proper uses of talents were to glorify God (Christ, specifically) and to edify one’s community, not to enrich oneself.  During his time on Earth Johann Friedrich struggled spiritually with his ego and his musical gifts.  He also thanked Christ for these gifts and the successful navigation of that spiritual struggle.

Johann Friedrich was a well-educated and capable man.  He matriculated at the boarding school at Niesky, Germany, in 1755.  There he studied under Johann Daniel Grimm (1719-1760).  From 1765 to 1769 Johann Friedrich attended the seminary at Barby, Germany.  There he started copying music, which he carried to America.  That collection included works from European composers, may of whom were alive at the time.

Bethlehem-Nazareth, PA

Above:  The Bethlehem-Nazareth Area in Pennyslvania, 1945

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Johann Friedrich lived in America from 1770 to his death forty-three years later.  He spent most of that time in Pennsylvania, usually in Bethlehem.  From 1770 to 1773 he taught at Nazareth Hall, the boy’s school, at Nazareth.  Johann Friedrich spent 1773-1779 in Bethlehem.  There he led the community instrumental ensemble, the collegium musicum, and made it part of regular worship services.  A brief stint (1779-1780) at Lititz followed.  There he kept the church records.

Lititz-Mountjoy, PA

Above:  The Lititz-Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, Area

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

From 1780 to 1790 Johann Friedrich served in various capacities at Salem, North Carolina, and in the vicinity.  He compiled orders of worship, played the organ, preached, baptized, administered communion, supervised and taught at the boy’s school, kept the congregational diary, served the church as secretary, served as the community’s music director, led the collegium musicum, and, for a time, served as the interim pastor.  After he left Salem, others continued his musical legacy in the community.  Johann Friedrich also conducted services in outlying communities, where he administered the sacraments and, as necessary, played the organ and sang.

Below:  Home Moravian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1935

Photographer = Frances Benjamin Johnston

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-csas-02658

02658v

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Graceham, MD

Above:  Graceham, Maryland, 1945

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Johann Friedrich moved a few times before returning to Bethlehem for more service (1793-1802.  He was the interim pastor at Graceham, Maryland, from 1790 to 1791, before returning to Bethlehem briefly (1791).

Hope, NJ

Above:  Hope, New Jersey, 1945

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Then he left to supervise the school at Hope, New Jersey, from 1791 to 1793.  During his third tenure (1793-1802) at Bethlehem Johann Friedrich served as the clerk, secretary, and organist at Central Moravian Church.  He left again in 1802 to become the pastor at Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, but returned to Bethlehem two years later.  There he remained for the rest of his life.  Johann Friedrich retired as organist in 1811.  Johann Christian Till (1762-1844), his brother Simon’s former student, became the new organist.  Our saint died suddenly on July 13, 1813, shortly after playing the organ for a children’s service at Bethlehem.

The great man–a composer and a music teacher–left human and musical legacies.  His pupils served in their communities for decades and influenced countless numbers of people directly and indirectly.  The prolific composer left his works, such as six string quartets (from 1789), the earliest chamber music anyone composed in the United States.  Johann Friedrich also composed church anthems, such as “It is a Precious Thing,” originally a duet for two sopranos.  (The 1954 edition is, however, a duet between a baritone and a soprano, followed by a four-part a cappella chorale.)  Other anthems included “Unto Us a Child is Born” and “Hearken, Stay Close to Him.”

Johann Friedrich understood that his talents came from God.  Thus our saint employed them to glorify God and to edify his communities.  He was piously humble about his many services to God and communities, leaving many unmentioned.  I, however, mention three here:

  1. He organized a service of mourning for the passing of President George Washington.  The service occurred at Bethlehem on February 22, 1800.
  2. Johann Friedrich organized the service of dedication of the new (and current) structure for Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, in 1806.
  3. He played the violin in an early American performance of Haydn’s Creation at Bethlehem in 1811.  David Moritz Michael (1751-1827), a composer of church anthems, conducted.

These three “new” saints–Jeremias Dencke, Simon Peter, and Johann Friedrich Peter–seem like kindred spirits not only to each other but to me.  I thank my late father for introducing me to classical music, especially the ecclesiastical side of it.  Thus my well-honed musical tastes cause me to like these three saints for cultural reasons, among others.  May their musical legacies thrive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

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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

Jeremias Dencke, Simon Peter, and Johann Friedrich Peter,

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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Feast of Johann Daniel Grimm (November 5)   1 comment

Herrnhut 1765

Above:  Herrnhut, 1765

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN DANIEL GRIMM (OCTOBER 5, 1719-APRIL 27 OR AUGUST 20, 1760)

German Moravian Composer

I found two possible dates of the death of Johann Daniel Grimm during my research, so I have included both of them.

Grimm led a full and creative life, one which touches lives today.  In fact, Moravian hymnals still contain some of his hymn tunes and musicians continue to perform his choral and instrumental works.  He wrote cantatas, sonatas, and at least thirteen string trios.

Our saint, a native of Stralsrund, Western Pomerania, along the Baltic Coast of Germany, converted to the Moravian Church in 1747.  He, twenty-eight years old, was already an accomplished musician.  He lived at the Moravian settlements of Herrnhaag and Marienborn, in Saxony, from 1748 to 1750.  Later he settled at Herrnhut then relocated to teach music at Gross Hennersdorf, also in Saxony.  In the 1750s one student at Gross Hennersdorf was Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813), who, in time, became the leading Moravian composer in America.

Grimm was a pioneer in Moravian Church music.  His Choralbuch (1755) was a collection (apparently not a bound one) of about 1000 tunes.  It pioneered the practice of numbering hymn tunes.  Christian Gregor (1723-1801) simplified that system with his bound Choralbuch (1784), which incorporated much material from Grimm’s Choralbuch and set the standard for a long time.

Grimm applied his creativity to the project of glorifying God inside and outside of church buildings.  He also passed his knowledge along to others.  I honor his legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 17, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF JOHN BOWRING, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF JULIA WARD HOWE, ABOLITIONIST

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

thank you for those (especially Johann Daniel Grimm)

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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Feast of Johann Christian Till and Jacob Christian Till (November 19)   1 comment

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Above:  Bell Tower, Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennyslvania, February 1969

Photographer = Jack E. Boucher

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS PA,48-BETH,2–7

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JOHANN CHRISTIAN TILL (MAY 18, 1762-NOVEMBER 19, 1844)

U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Piano Builder

father of

JACOB CHRISTIAN TILL (JULY 15, 1799-APRIL 9, 1882)

U.S. Moravian Piano Builder

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Before I write about the Tills I choose to note that I could have added at least two other people to this post.  Johann Christian Till’s life intersected with those of the Peter brothersSimon (1743-1819) and Johann Friedrich (1746-1813)–talented composers.  The simplest and best plan, I have concluded, is to write about them in a Simon brothers post, which I will link into this entry.  The focus here belongs on the Tills.

The Tills’ story began with the birth of Johann Christian Till at Gnadenthal, near Nazareth, Pennsylvania, on May 18, 1762.  He spent his entire life in the Nazareth-Bethlehem area, yet his musical influence spread as far as Herrnhut, in Saxony.  Till copied choral works for use in church and composed others for the same purpose.  One of his compositions was “Kindhearted and Gracious is the Lord.”  Moravian congregations worldwide performed his music.

Till attended Nazareth Hall, a boys’ school, where he studied under Simon Peter (1743-1819), pastor, composer, and church administrator.  Till supported himself as an adult primarily as a woodworker, with the notable exception of 1793-1808, when he worked as an organist and schoolmaster at Hope, New Jersey.  Then the school closed.  Music remained vital to his life, for he supplemented his income by working as an organist.  He also composed musical settings for Liturgical Hymns (1823).

From 1810 to 1834 Till and his son, Jacob Christian Till (1799-1882), derived most of their income from the family business of building pianos.  When this partnership started Jacob was eleven years old!  The father build the piano cabinet and the son constructed the mechanisms.  They were skilled craftsmen.  Unfortunately, only two of their pianos have survived to 2014.  Both are in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania–one at the Moravian Museum and the other at Moravian College.  Jacob moved to nearby Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1834.  Whether he continued building pianos is uncertain.

For much of the time that Till the elder was building pianos with his son he (the elder) supplemented his income by playing the organ at Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem.  He succeeded Johann Friedrich Peter (1746-1813) in that post in 1811.  Two of Till’s successors in that position were Theodore Francis Wolle (1832-1885) and John Frederick “J. Fred” Wolle (1863-1933), of whom I have written recently.

Johann Christian Till died on November 19, 1844.

Good music has an everlasting aspect to it.  As long as people can, for example, acquire and read musical scores then perform the music properly the composer’s legacy continues.  Unless the composition is a cappella an instrument is, by design, properly part of the performance.  That is where the builders of instruments fulfill their function.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 22:  THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF ASIA

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR AND OPPONENT OF FUNDAMENTALISM

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972

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Lord Jesus Christ, master craftsman of our salvation,

we thank you for those artisans who have glorified you with their skills

and for those who continue to do so.

May we, inspired by their positive examples,

glorify you with all our skills, no matter how mundane we think they are.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 38:24-34

Psalm 86:1-13

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Matthew 13:54-58

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 19:  THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS

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