Archive for the ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’ Tag

Feast of Frederick and William Temple (December 22)   4 comments


Above:  Canterbury Cathedral, 1910

Publisher and Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a24699



Archbishop of Canterbury

father of


Archbishop of Canterbury

His feast transferred from November 6


So let us set ourselves to gain a deepening loyalty to our Anglican tradition of Catholic order, Evangelical immediacy in our approach to God, and liberal acceptance of new truth made known to us; and let us at the same time join with all our fellow Christians who will join with us in bearing witness to the claim of Christ to rule in every department of human life, and to the principles of His Kingdom.

–William Temple, April 17, 1942; quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (Cincinnati, OH:  Forward Movement Publications, 1991), page 130


The standard feast day of William Temple is November 6.  To the best of my knowledge, no ecclesiastical body lists his father, Frederick Temple, on its calendar of saints.  On this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, the two Archbishop Temples share a feast day–December 22.



Above:  Frederick Temple

Image in the Public Domain

Frederick Temple was an educator, an educational reformer, a theologian, and a minister.  He, born on November 30, 1821, debuted at Leukas (a.k.a. Santa Maura), the Ionian Islands, off the coast of Greece.  His father, Major Octavius Temple (1784-1834) was there on imperial assignment.  Our saint’s mother was Dorcas Carveth (born in 1805).  He was one of five children.  The family relocated to Corfu in 1828.  Then, in 1833, Octavius became the Lieutenant Governor of Sierra Leone, serving until he died the following year.

The death of Octavius left the family impoverished.  Frederick studied at Blundell’s School, Devonshire, from 1834 to 1839.  Then, from 1839 to 1842, he attended Baillol College, Oxford, on scholarship, studying mechanics and the classics.  He encountered Tractarians there and found himself more liberal than they were.  From 1842 to 1848 our saint worked as a lecturer then a fellow at Baillol College.  Along the way he became an Anglican deacon (1846) then priest (1847).

Frederick left Oxford in 1848.  Until 1850 he worked at the Education Office.  Then, from 1850 to 1855, he was the Principal of Kneller Hall, a training college for teachers at workhouses.  Next (until 1857) our saint inspected training colleges.  From 1857 to 1869, as the Headmaster of Rugby School, expanded the curriculum, presided over new construction, and functioned as a good example to everyone.  On the side, from 1864 to 1867, Frederick served on the Schools Enquiry Commission.

Frederick contributed an essay, The Education of the World,” to Essays and Reviews (1860), a liberal Anglican manifesto.  The volume proved to be controversial, partially because all seven authors favored freedom of inquiry in religion.  In our saint’s case, his argument irked many people and led to allegations to heresy.  He wrote of the parallels of human life (obedience during childhood, example during adolescence, and responsible freedom during adulthood) to three religious stages (the Law, the Gospels, and Pentecost).  In the last phase, Frederick wrote, humankind must be free to make decisions while drawing from all worthy sources, mainly the Bible.  Some critics accused our saint of being unduly optimistic regarding human nature and of ignoring sin and redemption.  In response to the controversy he authorized the omission of his essay from subsequent editions of Essays and Reviews.

Our saint became the Bishop of Exeter in 1869 and served until 1885.  Frederick encouraged secondary education.  he also worked hard to implement the Elementary Education Act of 1870, which expanded the reach of elementary school access and improved attendance.  Also during his tenure Frederick oversaw the creation of the Diocese of Truro from his diocese.  And, on October 15, 1881, our saint and his wife, Beatrice Blanche Lascelles, welcomed their second son, William, into the world.

During his time as Bishop of Exeter our saint published The Relations Between Religion and Science (1884).  He accepted both science and religion, acknowledging the reality of Evolution.  He had already covered much of that material in a sermon, The Present Relation of Science to Religion (1860).

From 1885 to 1896 Frederick was the Bishop of London.  During that time he advised the Archbishop of Canterbury, his friend, Edward White Benson, whom he succeeded in 1897.  When our saint became the Primate he was already going blind.  Yet he labored faithfully, attempting to settle ritualistic controversies and refuting the Papal bull (literally) regarding the invalidity of Anglican Holy Orders.  Frederick died at London on December 22, 1902.  He was 81 years old.

Another published work of our saint was “The Church’s Message to Mankind,” included in The Church’s Message to Men (1899).

Volumes about Frederick, at least in part, included the following:

  1. Archbishop Temple, Being the People’s Life of the Right Hon. and Most Rev. Frederick Temple, P.C., D.D., LL.D., Primate of All England, and Metropolitan (1903), by Charles Henry Dant;
  2. Six Great Schoolmasters (1904), by F. D. How;
  3. Memoirs of Archbishop Temple by Seven Friends (1906), edited by E. G. Sandford–Volumes I and II;
  4. Frederick Temple:  An Appreciation (1907), by E. G. Sandford, with a biographical introduction by William Temple; and
  5. The Exeter Episcopate of Archbishop Temple, 1869-1885 (1907), by E. G. Sandford.



Above:  William Temple

Image in the Public Domain

William Temple entered the world on October 15, 1881, when his father, then the Bishop of Exeter, was 60 years old.  Young William grew up in a financially comfortable and artistically rich family.  When his father was the Bishop of London our saint learned to play the piano and the organ.  He also attempted to learn to play the oboe and the French horn and came to consider Johann Sebastian Bach to be

the supreme master  who more than any other enables us for a few moments snatched from the passage of time to enter upon the experience of eternity.

–Quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (1991), page 114

The bookworm suffered from various illnesses, such as gout, throughout his life.  He, like his father, had eye-related problems; William became blind in one eye, due to a cataract, in 1921.

William was also a natural intellectual.  He, educated at Rugby School (1894-1900) and Baillol College, Oxford (1900-1904), was a fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Queen’s College, Oxford, from 1904 to 1910.  Ordained to the diaconate in December 1909 and the priesthood in December 1910, our saint served as the Headmaster of Repton School, Derbyshire, from 1910 to 1914.

The priesthood had once been far from William’s mind, but it was his vocation.  Allegations of heresy had delayed his Holy Orders, but our saint became a simultaneously relatively orthodox and heterodox figure after his ordination.  The Incarnation occupied the center of his theology.  The Incarnation, William argued, had made the universe sacramental.  This understanding informed our saint’s opinion that one cannot properly divorce Christian doctrine from social justice.  Thus he served as the President of the Workers’ Educational Association from 1908 to 1924 and joined the Labour Party.  Christian disunity weakened the witness of the Church in the world, William knew.  Therefore he supported ecumenism in general and the Life and Work Movement (1925f) and the Faith and Order Movement (1927f), predecessors of the World Council of Churches (1948), in particular.  Our saint also favored the process that led to the formation of the Church of South India (1947).  William also supported the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood as early as 1916, but struggled with the fact that the ordination of women at that time would become an obstacle to ecumenism.

William entered full-time ministry in 1914.  That year he became the Rector of St. James’ Church, Picadilly, London.  On the side he also served as honorary chaplain to King George V and to Randall Davidson, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  In 1916 our saint married Frances Anson; the couple had no children.  From 1919 to 1921 William was Canon of Westminster.  Next he served as the Bishop of Manchester (thereby becoming a successor of James Prince Lee) for eight years.  As the Bishop of Manchester our saint offended cotton magnates by seeking to resolve a general strike peacefully in 1926.  From 1929 to 1942 he was the Archbishop of York.  Then he succeeded Cosmo Lang as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

William was perhaps the most renowned Archbishop of Canterbury since the English Reformation.  He exercised the duties of the office during difficult times–World War II.  Our saint advocated for aid to Jews fleeing the Nazis, visited soldiers and sailors, broadcast sermons to soldiers and sailors, led prayer services at factories, preached on Sundays when Germans were bombing, and supported a negotiated settlement to the war.  He had to travel to and from his final public appearances in an ambulance and had to stand on one foot while speaking.

Wiliam died at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, on October 26, 1944.  He was 63 years old.  Reinhold Niebuhr reflected:

Dr. Temple was able to relate “religious insights and social order” more vitally and creatively than any other modern Christian leader.

–Quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (1991), page 113

Major published works by our saint included the following:

  1. The Nature of Personality:  A Course of Lectures (1911);
  2. “The Divinity of Christ” and “The Church” in Foundations:  A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought (1913);
  3. The Faith and Modern Thought:  Six Lectures (1913);
  4. Christianity and War (1914);
  5. Theology:  The Science of Religion (1914);
  6. Studies in the Spirit and Truth of Christianity (1914);
  7. Our Need of a Catholic Church (1915);
  8. Church and Nation (1915);
  9. Plato and Christianity (1916);
  10. Mens Creatrix:  An Essay (1917);
  11. The Universality of Christ:  A Course of Lectures (1921);
  12. Life of Bishop Percival (1921);
  13. Christus Veritas (1924);
  14. Personal Religion and the Life of Fellowship (1926);
  15. Christianity and the State (1928);
  16. Nature, Man, and God (1934);
  17. Readings in St. John’s Gospel (1939 and 1940); and
  18. Christianity and the Social Order (1942).


Understanding Frederick Temple increases one’s comprehension for his famous son.  The apple, I contend, did not fall far from the tree.  Although William Temple overshadows his father, nobody should minimize the importance of the elder.

As both Temples understood well, an excessively personalized Christianity divorced from social justice is heretical.  They were good Anglicans and therefore men rooted in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth.  As I have learned, the Anglican emphasis on the Incarnation (as opposed to the Lutheran emphasis on the crucifixion) lends itself to reading John 1:1-18, especially the part about God dwelling among us, and seeking to serve God in those around us.  This point of view has led to ecclesiastical involvement in social justice movements.  This has always been orthodox; turning away from the mandate to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself has always been heretical.







Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Frederick Temple and William Temple,

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


Feast of Giovanni Gabrieli, Hans Leo Hassler, Claudio Monteverdi, and Heinrich Schutz (November 6)   6 comments

Flag of the Most Serene Republic of Venice

Above:  Flag of the Most Serene Republic of Venice

Image in the Public Domain



Composer and Organist

teacher of


Composer and Organist



Composer and Musician

teacher of


Composer and Musician

Lutheran Feast Day = July 28


With this post I add four composers of church music to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Classical music is my favorite genre of audio input.  For most of my life I have derived much spiritual benefit from classical church music, including certain works by some of these four composers.

Giovanni Gabrieli, born in Venice, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, in 1557, was a nephew of Andrea Gabrieli (circa 1520-1586), a composer and organist.  Andrea, famous for his madrigals and sacred works, served as the second organist (1566-1585) then primary composer (1585-1586) at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice.  Giovanni, who studied music under the direction of his uncle, succeeded him as the second organist (in 1585) and as primary composer (in 1586), holding both posts for the rest of his life.  In 1584 and 1585 Giovanni and his uncle taught Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612).  The younger Gabrieli also befriended Hassler.  Giovanni, whose major works include the Sacre Symphoniae, composed the first truly orchestral sacred music, with spatially separated choirs, intended for performance at St. Mark’s Basilica.  He also edited and preserved many of his uncle’s compositions.  Giovanni, ill for the last six years of his life, died at Venice on August 12, 1612.  He was 54 or 55 years old.

Hans Leo Hassler, baptized at Nuremberg, on October 26, 1564, became the most German composer of his time.  His father and first music teacher was Isaak Hassler (died in 1591), an organist.  Hans studied music with the Gabrielis in Venice in 1584 and 1585.  Back in Germany, Hans became the organist to the Fugger family, bankers in Augsburg.  Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (reigned 1576-1612) made the composer a nobleman in 1591.  Nine years later Hassler became the director of music for the city of Augsburg.  The following year he transferred to Nuremberg, to fill a similar position.  Finally, in 1608, Hassler became the organist to Christian II (reigned 1591-1611), the Elector of Saxony.  The composer stayed on in that capacity in the service of Elector Johann Georg I (reigned 1611-1656).  Our saint, a Lutheran, composed madrigals as well as sacred music in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.  He died of tuberculosis at Frankfurt on August 19, 1612.  He was 47 years old.

Claudio Monteverdi, baptized on May 15, 1567, at Cremona, Duchy of Milan (now Cremona, Lombardy, Italy), became an influential composer.  He studied music under Mark Antonio Ingegneri (circa 1545-1592), choirmaster at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In 1590 Monteverdi became a string player in the service of Vincenzo I (reigned 1587-1612), Duke of Mantua.  The composer and the duke traveled to Hungary in 1595 and the Low Countries in 1599.  Also in 1599, Monteverdi married Claudia Cattaneo (died in 1607), a singer.  They had two sons and a daughter.  One son became a Carmelite friar and a chorister at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice.  The other son, a doctor, became a target of the Inquisition in 1627.  Fortunately, the Inquisition acquitted him of charges of heresy the following year.  Duke Vincenzo I promoted Monteverdi to the post of director of music at the ducal court.  In 1612, however, Duke Francesco IV (reigned in 1612), citing the necessity of budget cuts, terminated Monteverdi’s employment.  The composer served as choir master at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, from 1613 to 1643 (his death), becoming a priest in 1632.

Monteverdi was an influential composer during his lifetime and afterward.  He composed madrigals, motets, operas, and sacred music.  L’Orfeo (1607) has become the oldest opera still performed.  The music to some of his operas has not survived, unfortunately.  Monteverdi also wrote settings of the Mass and of vespers.  Especially notable was Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610), dedicated to Pope Paul V (reigned 1605-1621).

Monteverdi led a frequently unhappy life yet he composed much fairly light music.  That life, the last few years of which he spent in illness, ended at Venice on November 29, 1643.  He was 76 years old.

The birth date of Heinrich Schutz was October 8, 1585 on the Julian Calendar and October 18, 1585, on the Gregorian Calendar.  The site of that debut was Kostritz, Thuringia.  He became the greatest German composer prior to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  The son of Euphrosyne Bieger and Christoph Schutz (the manager of an inn) became a chorister at Kassel, under the patronage of Maurice the Learned (reigned 1592-1627), the Landgrave of Hesse-Kessel.  Schutz studied law at the University of Marburg in 1608 and 1609.  Then, in 1609-1612, he, financed by Maurice the Learned, studied music at Venice, where Giovanni Gabrieli was his teacher.  Schutz studied law at Leipzig, starting in 1613, but accepted Maurice’s offer to become the second organist at the court at Hesse.

Starting in 1614, Schutz began to work primarily for the Electors of Saxony, starting with Johann Georg I (reigned 1611-1656).  The composer began by supervising the music of the baptism of Johann Georg’s son.  Next Schutz went to work in the electoral chapel at Dresden.  In 1619 he married Magdalene Wildeck.  The couple had two daughters.  In 1628 Schutz visited Venice, where he studied under Claudio Monteverdi.  Then he returned to Dresden and the electoral court, but left after three years, due to the combination of plague and the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).  In 1633-1635 Schutz served as the kappelmeister at the Danish royal court when Christian IV (reigned 1588-1648) was the sovereign.  Then the composer returned to the electoral court at Dresden, where he remained for the rest of his life, despite his expressed wishes to leave.  Schutz died after a stroke, on November 6, 1672.  He was 87 years old.

Schutz left and impressive musical legacy, including madrigals, sacred works, and operas.  Daphne (1627) was the first German opera.  The score has become lost to history, unfortunately.  He also composed a German requiem mass, Musikalische Exequien (1636).  Other sacred works included a Christmas oratorio (1664) and settings of the Passion narratives from the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.

These composers left a living legacy, one which a person can access via technology easily and legally.  Doing so will prove spiritually beneficial to he or she who really listens to those works and inwardly digests them.






Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servants

Giovanni Gabrielli, Hans Leo Hassler, Claudio Monteverdi, and Heinrich Schutz.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of our new creation in Jesus Christ

our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61


Feast of Peter Wolle, Theodore Wolle, and John Frederick Wolle (November 14)   6 comments

Wolle Family Connections

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



U.S. Moravian Bishop, Organist, and Composer

father of


U.S. Moravian Organist and Composer

kinsman of 


U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Choir Director


Families should nurture a healthy devotion to God, I am convinced.  Certainly the Wolle family of Bethlehem-Nazareth, Pennsylvania, did so.

The story, for the purpose of this post, began with John Frederick Wolle (1745-1813), a Moravian missionary to St. Thomas, in the Caribbean Sea.  He and his wife had two sons important to this post–John Frederick Wolle (1785-1860) and Peter Wolle (1792-1871).  Peter arrived in Pennsylvania at the tender age of three years.  In 1807 he became one of the first three students at Moravian Theological Seminary, all of whom went to on to become bishops in the Unitas Fratrum.  Peter taught in Moravian schools in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, states in which he also served congregations as a pastor.  From 1810 to 1814 he taught at the Collegium Musicum (from 1820 the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem).

Peter served God and the Moravian Church with several talents.  In 1836 he published the first Moravian tune book in the United States, Hymn Tunes, Used in the Church of the United Brethren.  He altered Moravian hymn tunes to make them more similar to commonly sung hymn tunes in America.  This was necessary partially due to cultural pressures and ecclesiastical competition.  In the realm of music he also played the organ and composed anthems–nothing surprising, given the musical priorities of the Unitas Fratrum.  Peter, who became a bishop while pastor at Lititz, Pennsylvania, served as the interim minister at Dover, Ohio, from 1853 to 1855.  Then he served on the Provincial Board of the American Province until he retired in 1861.  He died at Bethlehem in 1871.

Two of Peter’s sons went into music also.  James Wolle built pianos–very well, apparently.  Theodore Francis Wolle (1832-1885) became an organist, like his father.  Peter taught young Theodore to play the instrument.  By the age of ten years the boy could play all tunes from his father’s Tune Book from memory.  Theodore started teaching music at Greensboro College, Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1853, played in a Confederate Army band during the Civil War, and returned to Bethlehem by 1865.


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

Image Source = Library of Congress

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

Theodore worked as an organist and composer in Bethlehem.  At first he played the organ at the Moravian chapel there.  Then, in 1871, he became the organist and choirmaster at Central Moravian Church.  He held the post for fourteen years.  The congregation replaced its old organ, which dated to 1806, in 1873.  Theodore helped to design the new instrument, which had three manuals and forty stops–more than the old organ did.  He stood in the legacy of Johann Klemm, David Tannenberg, Sr., and other Moravian Church organ builders.

Theodore also broke with tradition in two ways.  He changed the role of the organist in Moravian worship.  That role had been to support the congregation in worship.  A Moravian Church organist was not traditionally a performer, but Theodore became the first Moravian Church organist to give recitals.  He also changed the design and sound of Moravian Church organs.  They were traditionally modest instruments which did not attract attention to themselves in terms of sound or appearance.  The 1873 organ at Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, however, sounded grand and looked decorative.

Theodore also composed at least one tune, “Asleep in Jesus” (1877), which I found in an old Moravian hymnal.

His successor at Central Moravian Church was a third John Frederick Wolle (1863-1933), grandnephew of Peter Wolle (1792-1871), grandson of John Frederick Wolle (1785-1860), great-grandson of John Frederick Wolle (1745-1813), and a relative of Theodore.  (Distinguishing among people is a simpler task when they have different names.)  John Frederick number three, or J. Fred, as he preferred that people call him, became one of the most influential and acclaimed Moravian Church musicians and music teachers in the United States.  He studied the organ with Theodore at Bethlehem and David Wood at Philadelphia.  In 1884-1885 he lived in Munich, Germany, where he was one of four students the great organist Josef Rheinberger accepted that year.  The master organist preferred a dry, straight-forward performance style of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, but J. Fred opted for an expressive interpretation.  The student also became familiar with the music of Richard Wagner while in Munich and began to make organ transcriptions of selections from Wagnerian operas.

J. Fred returned to Bethlehem in 1885 and stayed busy doing what he loved.  He succeeded Theodore as the organist and choirmaster at Central Moravian Church that year.  Two years later he added to those duties the positions of organist at Lehigh University and Packer Memorial Church (Episcopal), on the campus.  For eighteen years he played the organ at Lehigh.  He also composed works for the organ and for choirs and won national acclaim for his organ recital at the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893. As if that were not enough, J. Fred co-founded the American Guild of Organists in 1896 and founded the Bach Choir of Bethlehem two years later.  He served as the first Director of that ensemble, which gave the first complete performances of the Mass in B Minor and the Christmas Oratorio in the United States, in 1900 and 1901, respectively.  His Bach Festivals were major cultural events.  The Bach Choir was not originally a professional organization for, J. Fred said, Bach was for everybody.

J. Fred left for Berkeley, California, in 1905, to lead the Department of Music at the University of California.  During his six years he organized a Bach Choir in that city.  He returned to Bethlehem in 1911 and resumed his role with the original Bach Choir.  In 1915 he was organist at Salem Lutheran Church, Bethlehem.

J. Fred died in 1933.

These three saints glorified God with their talents, which they nurtured and honed.  Fortunately, they had support along the way.  May we, likewise, strive to be all we can be for the glory of God and the benefit of others, have the support we need, and, as able, enable others to achieve their potential.







Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servants

Peter Wolle, Theodore Wolle, and J. Fred Wolle.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible

richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61


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


Feast of Johann Rudolph Ahle and Johann Georg Ahle (July 9)   Leave a comment

Europe 1648

Above:  Europe in 1648



German Lutheran Organist and Composer

father of


German Lutheran Organist and Composer


Today I add a father and his son to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625-1673) studied theology at the University of Erfurt from 1645 to 1649.  He spent most of his life in his native Muhlhausen, where he played the organ at St. Blasius Church for many years, served on the town council (starting in 1656) and became mayor (in 1661).  He was a prolific composer, writing mostly for the Lutheran Church.  He composed more vocal works than anything else, but he also wrote approximately sixty works for the organ.  Some of his tunes sunk so deeply into the culture of his homeland that, in the next century, when Johann Sebastian Bach quoted them in cantatas, people in the audience recognized them easily.

Little information about Johann Georg Ahle (1650-1706) survives.  We do know that he followed in his father’s footsteps, serving as the organist at St. Blasius Church and sitting on the town council of Muhlhausen.  Johann Georg also composed aria and other works, almost all of which are lost.  Johann Georg did have the honor of serving as imperial Poet Laureate during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (reigned 1658-1705).  And Johann Georg wrote hymns, now lost.  I would not even add him to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days if not for his father, for I would have too little information to write a post just about him.  Yet I feel confident in doing this.  God knows all the details; that will have to suffice.








Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by your servants Johann Rudolph Ahle and Johann Georg Ahle,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may 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

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724

Feast of Joseph Barnby (January 28)   2 comments

Above:  Minster Choir East, York, England

Image Source = Library of Congress



Anglican Church Musician and Composer

Each of us, in order to achieve his or her potential, needs the desire to accomplish it, the proper work ethic, and the opportunities to apply the desire and the work ethic.  Sir Joseph Barnby was quite fortunate, for he had all three.

Barnby, born at York, England, joined the York Minster choir at age seven.  He began to teach three years later and to work as an organist at age twelve.  He became the master of his school at age fifteen.  The alumnus of the Royal Academy of Music had a distinguished career in music, mostly in church settings.  His church choirs in London parishes, the best such ensembles in that city. performed the Passions of Johann Sebastian Bach annually.  Barnby conducted the first performances of Richard Wagner‘s Parsifal and Antonin Dvorak‘s Stabat Mater in England.  And Barnby served as musical advisor to Novello, Ewer and Company from 1861 to 1876.  The firm founded a choir for him to lead.  He worked as Director of  Music at Eton College from 1875 to 1892, conducted the Royal Choral Society, and became (in 1892) the Principal of the Guildhall School of Music.  His knighthood (in 1892) was merited yet rare for choral directors.

Barnby was a prolific composer.  Robert Guy McCutchan wrote of the saint in the 1937 companion volume to the U.S. Methodist Hymnal of 1935.  Barnby, McCutchan  wrote, was

…one of the most prolific, if not the greatest of the late nineteenth-century group of hymn-tune writers.

–page 57

Barnby composed an oratio (Rebekah), solo pieces, service music, anthems for choirs, and 246 hymn tunes.  Perhaps the best-known hymn tune he composed was Laudes Domini, the traditional tune for “When Morning Gilds the Skies.”

Barnby also edited five hymnals, the most renowned of which is the 1872 Anglican Hymnary, a High Church volume.  If you, O reader, desire to find a copy of that book, follow this link, where you will find it available in various formats.

The positive legacy of Sir Joseph Barnby lingers, fortunately.






Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Joseph Barnby and all those who

with words and images have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728


Revised on November 21, 2016