Archive for the ‘Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf’ Tag

Feast of John Amos Comenius (November 14)   4 comments

John Amos Comenius

Image in the Public Domain



Father of Modern Education


In The Emperor’s Club (2002), one of my favorite movies, William Hundert tells his young students,

Great ambition and conquest without contribution is without significance.  What will your contribution be?  How will history remember you?

Jan Amos KomenskyJohn Amos Comenius in the Anglicized version of his name–suffered because of insignificant conquests with lasting effects and left a fine legacy in the realms of education and the church.  Not only did he preserve the “Hidden Seed” of the persecuted, underground Moravian Church (partially by publishing the Ancient Unity’s last hymnal, small enough to fit inside an exile’s pocket, in 1659 and a catechism in 1661 from exile in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) until Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) stepped up to provide a safe haven for Moravians in 1722, but our saint also became the Father of Modern Education and the Father of the Elementary School.

Perish sects.  Perish the founders of sects.  I have consecrated myself to Christ alone.

–Comenius in his later years

The life of our saint was replete with difficulties, including wars, religious persecution, and times of exile.  Comenius, born at Nivnitz, Moravia, on March 28, 1592, grew up in the Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination.  His parents died of plague, making him an orphan at six years of age.  Our intelligent saint studied at Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, and at Heidelberg, Baden-Wurttemberg, before serving as the Rector of the Moravian school at Prerov, Moravia (1614-1616), then as the minister at Fulnek, Moravia.  Then warfare and religious intolerance descended upon Comenius.

Europe was far from a hotbed of religious toleration in the 1600s.  In fact, religious toleration was one of the more admirable values of the Enlightenment (late 160os-1700s), itself partially a rejection of the excesses of Christendom.  The Moravian Church went underground for about a century (1620-1722), the period of the “Hidden Seed”  Comenius started 1620 as the Moravian minister at Fulnek, Moravia.  The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was young and about to change the life of our saint and the lives of all members of the Unitas Fratrum drastically.  That year the Spanish Army pillaged and plundered Fulnek, committing violence against non-combatants.  Comenius lost all of his possessions and manuscripts in a fire then his wife and one child en route to refuge at the estate of Baron Charles von Zerotin at Bradeis-on-the-Adler, Moravia.  Our saint’s first exile had begun.  Comenius and other Moravians whom Baron von Zerotin sheltered had to leave the estate in 1628 due to pressures from the Hapsburg Dynasty.  Moravian exiles had settled many corners of Europe starting in 1620; Comenius led a band of Moravians to Lissa, Poland.  There, in 1636, he became a bishop–the last bishop of the Ancient Unity, in fact.

At Brandeis Comenius wrote an allegory, The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1623), to comfort Moravian exiles.  He wrote of Moravians as ideal Christians in that classic work of Czech literature.  Our saint depicted the violence and upheaval of the Thirty Years’ War and condemned social problems and endemic lack of concern for others.  His prescription for remedying the situation was a renewed dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as the Moravian Church expressed it.  Competition among sects had contributed to much violence in Europe, so the cessation of such rivalries, replaced with unity to realize God’s will, would bring peace, he reasoned.

In Poland Comenius, who hoped for better times despite appearances of current events, started his educational revolution, which he spread to other countries, such as England, Hungary, Prussia, and Sweden.  The theologically mystical bishop advocated for universal, liberal arts education with a classical core.  He considered science and religion complementary, not antagonistic.  Our saint argued for teaching in vernacular languages, not Latin, not that he opposed Latin.  In fact, our saint revolutionized the teaching of that dead language.  His Latin textbooks, which came to exist in seventeen languages, set the standard in the field during his lifetime.  And Comenius supported a rigorous education for girls and women.  After all, were not mothers the first teachers of their children?  He recognized that holding about half of the population back “in its place” constrained entire societies also.

Comenius traveled widely in Europe.  He lived and worked in England in 1641-1642, inspiring the eventual founding of the Royal Society there and of similar institutions elsewhere.  In 1642 our saint rejected an offer to become the President of the new Harvard College.  He did, however, leave England, where the first of three civil wars within a decade was starting, for Sweden, where the government invited him to reform the schools.  Comenius had to leave after a few years, for his involvement in ecumenical activities angered some prominent ministers in the state Lutheran Church.  He returned to Poland, where, in 1648, he became the leader of the entire Moravian Church.  War struck again in 1656, when Comenius lost all his manuscripts in another fire related to a military action.  Thus Comenius relocated to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he died on November 15, 1670, about fifty-two years before Zinzendorf rescued the Moravians and started the modern era of the denomination.

The Moravians survived as a church until 1722 in large part due to the labors of Comenius.  His published theological works–including the 1659 hymnal and the 1661 catechism–kept the flame burning for a few more decades.

Some of our saint’s published works exist in English.  These include a hymn I found in the 1923 and 1969 North American Moravian hymnals and some of his books, such as those for which I have found texts at and linked into this post.






O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John Amos Comenius and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34







Feast of Johann Gottlob Klemm, Tobias Friedrich, David Tannenberg, Johann Philip Bachmann, and Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek (November 15)   1 comment


Above:  A Chart Depicting Relationships Among People I Have Named in This Post

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor



Instrument Maker

mentor of 

DAVID TANNENBERG, SR. (MARCH 21, 1728-MAY 19, 1804)

German-American Moravian Organ Builder

mentor and father-in-law of


German-American Instrument Maker



Bohemian-American Organ Builder



German Moravian Composer and Musician



A process which began when I wrote a name–Johann Philip Bachmann–out of a book then assigned him a provisional date on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days led recently to taking notes on Herr Bachmann.  Then one person led to another and I had taken notes on five saints during several hours.  These life stories are like circles in a Venn Diagram, but I will do my best to minimize, if not prevent, confusion.

If I have prompted a desire for more details in you, O reader, some of the hyperlinks I have embedded in this post might interest you.  Others have devoted much time and effort into sharing such details online; I have endeavored to refer people to such websites in this post.

Johann Gottlob Klemm (I)

Our story begins with Johann Gottlob Klemm (1690-1762), born near Dresden.  Klemm’s father was an organist, organ builder, and schoolmaster.  The saint trained in the art of building organs near Dresden, starting circa 1710 after having studied theology at Freiberg and Leipzig.  Among his clients was Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), for whom he build a harpsichord.  The Zinzendorf connection brought Klemm into the Moravian Church in 1726, when the saint moved to Herrnhut, where he lived for seven years.  There he was present for the Moravian Pentecost (August 13, 1727), the birth of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum, and taught boys and led some services.

Tobias Friedrich

Klemm also built a clavichord for Tobias Friedrich (1706-1736).  This saint came from a farming family, but God put him on the Earth for music, not agriculture.  Friedrich trained to become the cantor in the nearby town of Castell when he was twelve years old.  At age fourteen (1720) he met Count Zinzendorf.  The die was cast.  Friedrich became one of the early settlers at Herrnhut, where he remained for the rest of his life, except for a few months in 1731, when the Church sent him on a missions trip to Denmark and Sweden.  He worked for Zinzendorf in a variety of capacities over time, ending as the Count’s secretary.  Friedrich served also as the first organist at Herrnhut, as a member of the Church’s Board of Direction (from 1731 to 1736), and as one of the founders of the collegium musicum (musical ensemble) at Herrnhut.

Friedrich’s lasting legacy to the Moravian Church was in the realm of hymnody.  He, a fine violinist and organist, understood well how to accompany a worshiping congregation.  He also grasped the importance of hymn tunes.  He laid the strong foundation of hymnody in the Renewed Unitas Fratrum.  More than 200 tunes in the Church’s first post-renewal hymnal, the Herrnhuter Gesangbuch (1735), flowed from his pen.  At least twenty of them reamined in Christian Gregor‘s standard-setting Choralbuch (1784).

Friedrich died on June 8, 1736, after a brief illness.  He was just twenty-nine years old.  What more might he have accomplished had he lived longer?

Johann Gottlob Klemm (II)

Klemm, once a devout Moravian, walked away from the Unitas Fratrum in 1733 and emigrated to Pennsylvania with a group of Schwenkfelders, who belonged to the sect which Kaspar von Schwenkfeld (1489-1561) had founded.  Schwenkfeld preferred a style of Protestantism more mystical than either the Lutheran or Reformed traditions, so he argued with both Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, who also argued with each other, especially regarding Eucharistic theology.  Schwenkfeld, who made good use of the printing presses to spread his ideas, had to contend with other Protestants banning his books.  He spent the last twenty-one years of his life as a fugitive due to his theology, for the religious freedom he championed did not exist for him.

Klemm, once he settled near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, chose to live without a formal religious affiliation for decades.  He also Anglicized his name as “John Clemm” and worked as the first professional organ and keyboard builder in the American colonies.  His market was ecumenical, including the following:

  1. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1738);
  2. Trinity Church (then Anglican, now Episcopal) Church, Wall Street, New York, New York (1741);
  3. the Moravian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1742); and
  4. the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1746).

Klemm returned to the Unitas Fratrum at the end of his life.  The Moravian community at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, accepted him.  There he mentored David Tannenberg, Sr. (1728-1804), in the art of building organs.  They built five organs for the Moravians.  One of those instruments went to the church at Bethabara, North Carolina.  Klemm died at Bethlehem on May 4, 1762.

David Tannenberg, Sr.

Tannenberg, born into a Moravian Church family, became the major organ builder in America during the 1700s.  He grew up at Herrnhut, except for a period of schooling elsewhere from his tenth to fourteenth years of life.  In 1748 he lived at Zeist, The Netherlands.  The following year he emigrated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Shortly after Tannenberg arrived he married Anna Rosina Kern.  For eight years he worked as a joiner and a business manager at Bethlehem then at Nazareth.  This experience helped him succeed as a master organ builder.

As I wrote, Johann Gottlob Klemm (1690-1762) settled at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1757.  Then Tannenberg became his apprentice.  Tannenberg persisted in the art and trade of building organs despite the request of Moravian Elders that he make cabinets instead.  Building organs was, they said, “tied up with much disorder.”

Tannenberg’s skill extended beyond the bounds of organ building.  He and his family relocated to Lititz, Pennsylvania, in 1765.  There he not only established his workshop but performed as a vocalist and a violinist in the community.  Tannenberg, who built an average of one organ annually, constructed fifty during his lifetime.  Nine of them survive in 2014.  He installed organs in Pennyslvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, for Roman Catholic, Moravian, Reformed, and Lutheran churches plus private homes.  Tannenberg’s output increased in 1793, when, at his request, Johann Philip Bachmann (1762-1837) arrived from Herrnhut.  They built fourteen organs in either seven or ten years.  I am unsure of the length of their professional relationship, for my source tells me that they parted ways in 1800 on one page then in 1803 on another.  (One of those dates might be a typographical error.)  That source does agree with itself, however, on the existence of tension between the men, hence their professional parting.

Tannenberg built and installed organs to the end.  His final professional act was to install an organ at Christ Lutheran Church, York, Pennyslvania.  He was ill, but he completed the job before suffering a stroke then dying.  The organ’s premiere was his funeral.

Tannenberg also built stringed instruments.  He made at least one harpsichord, which, to the best of current knowledge, no longer exists.  There is hope, however, for his oldest stringed instrument, a clavichord dating to 1761, resurfaced in 2004.

Johann Philip Bachmann

Johann Philip Bachmann (1762-1837), whose name launched me on the process of researching and writing this post, was German.  The native of Thuringia learned carpentry from his father, who might been a piano maker.  Young Bachmann left home at age sixteen to apprentice to a master carpenter.  This saint went from there to the Herrnhut, having joined the Unitas Fratrum.  At Herrnhut the carpenter learned how to make musical instruments.  In April 1793, after he arrived in Pennyslvania, he married Anna Maria Tannenberg, the youngest daughter of David Tannenberg, Sr.  Bachmann apprentice under Tannenberg until 1800 or 1803, traveling sometimes to install organs.  The two men collaborated until Tannenberg’s death (1804), despite their differences.  Bachmann turned from building organs to making pianos and cabinets by 1819, by which time he had begun to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which afflicted him for the last two decades of his life.  He, an invalid for the final months, died on November 15, 1837.

Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek

A previous apprentice to Tannenberg was Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek (1729-1801), a native of Bohemia.  He, an organ builder, millwright, and cabinet maker, apprentice under Tannenberg sometime before 1771, when he left Pennsylvania for North Carolina.  He built at least two organs there–one for the Moravian congregation at Bethabara, the other for the Moravian church at Bathania.  The Bethania organ was unusual, for the organist’s console was behind the case, requiring a window cut through the center of the case so the organist could see the congregation.

David Tannenberg, Jr.

Tannenberg had a son, David Tannenberg, Jr. (1760-circa 1802), who also learned the art and trade of building organs.  The younger Tannenberg, unlike his father, was often at odds with the Moravian community.  The son did, however, work in the field of organ construction, infusing the Pennsylvania German school of organ building with elements of the Moravian school thereof.  One example of the fusion of these two schools was the organ for Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Bally, Pennsylvania.


The worship of God is a serious matter, as the saints of whom I have written in this post knew well.  They employed their skills with great care for the glory of God.  Some of their products survive–often in museums, sometimes in churches.  The old instruments remain functional if people have maintained them.  And at least one cabinet Bulitschek made survives.  It is, according to what I have read, beautiful and well-crafted.

May we do everything excellently, so that even our must mundane and seemingly meaningless tasks may glorify God.  One can glorify God by washing the dishes if one completes the chore properly, after all.






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

Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of your servants

Johann Gottlob Klemm;

David Tannenberg, Sr.;

Johann Philip Bachmann;

Joseph Ferdinand Bulitschek; and

Tobias Friedrich,

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

–Common of a Saint I, Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724


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