Archive for the ‘Richard Upjohn’ Tag

Feast of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres (April 8)   2 comments

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

Image Source = New York Public Library



Patriarch of American Lutheranism

His feast day transferred from October 7

great-grandfather of


Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgical Pioneer

colleague of

ANNE AYRES (JANUARY 3, 1816-1896)

Foundress of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion


One church, one book.

–Henry Melchior Muhlenberg


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


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

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

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

The Church Must Be Planted.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

St. Johnland survives as a nursing center.

Flowers and altar candles remain familiar sites in Episcopal hymnals.

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

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


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









Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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


Feast of Ralph Adams Cram, Richard Upjohn, and John LaFarge, Sr. (December 16)   5 comments


Above:  Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, New York

Image Source = Detroit Publishing Company

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a24588








JOHN LAFARGE, SR. (MARCH 31, 1835-NOVEMBER 14, 1910)

Painter and Stained Glass Window Maker


Art, including architecture, murals, and stained glass windows, can add much to the atmosphere of a space devoted to the worship of God.  The legacies of these three saints attest to this reality.


Ralph Adams Cram, born at Hampton Falls, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1863, became an architect.  His mother was Sarah Elizabeth Cram and his father was the Reverend William Augustine Cram, a Transcendentalist.  Our saint, educated in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, left for Boston at the age of 18 years.  There he joined the architectural firm of Rotch and Tilden, where he worked for five years.  Then, in 1886, Cram traveled to Rome, Italy, to study classical architecture.  At Rome, on Christmas Eve in 1887, our saint had a conversion experience during a Mass.

Cram, who became an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, became a founding partner of the firm of Cram and Wentworth in 1889.  (The name of the firm changed over time as partners came and went.)  He originated Collegiate Gothic architecture (such as at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, New York) and advocated for Gothic Revival architecture.  Cram designed churches, libraries, chapels, homes, et cetera.  He also served as the supervising architect at Princeton University from 1907 to 1929, defended Governor Alfred Smith against anti-Roman Catholic attacks in 1928, and led the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for seven years.

Cram married Elizabeth Carrington Read at New Bedford in 1900.  The couple had three children.

Cram died at Boston on September 22, 1942.  He was 78 years old.

Among the structures Cram designed was the building for Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, Georgia.  It is a lovely edifice complete with a hardwood floor, brick arches, and Tiffany glass.  I know this structure, upon which people have expanded gracefully over time, fairly well, for I have attended services there during visits to Americus since 2006.  Unfortunately, as of late 2016, the structure is in peril due to the forces of “progress,” that is, the proposed replacement of the bridge (over railroad tracks) adjacent to the church building.


Richard Upjohn, born at Shaftesbury, England, on January 22, 1802, also became an important architect in time.  At first, however, he was an apprentice to a builder and a cabinet-maker.  Then our saint worked as a mechanic.  In 1829 the family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Four years later they relocated to Boston, Massachusetts.  There Upjohn became an architect.  He naturalized as an American citizen in 1836.

Upjohn was an influential architect.  He favored Gothic revival architecture and helped to originate the Carpenter Gothic style.  Our saint also helped to found the American Institute of Architects in 1857 and served as its President from 1857 to 1876.  Upjohn, based in New York City starting in 1839, designed homes, public buildings (such as the state capitol building in Hartford, Connecticut), and churches (especially Episcopal ones).  Notable examples of his church work were St. John’s Church in Bangor, Maine, and Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City.

Upjohn died at home, in Garrison, New York, on August 16, 1878.  He was 76 years old.


John LaFarge, Sr., born at New York, New York, on March 31, 1835, became a painter and a stained glass window maker.  Our saint, a Roman Catholic, came from a wealthy family of French origin.  Initially he studied law at Fordham University, but, after visiting Paris in 1856, he changed his major and became an artist.

LaFarge, who studied under painter William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) in Newport, Rhode Island, painted scenes from the Bible and classical mythology.  He also studied Japanese art, illustrated works of Robert Browning and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and, in 1890-1891, traveled and painted in the South Pacific Ocean.  LaFarge also taught painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Schools, New York City.  Then, from 1899 to 1904, he served as the President of the National Society of Mural Painters.

LaFarge painted murals and created stained class windows for churches, homes, and public buildings.  For example, he painted murals for Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts; the Church of the Ascension, New York City; St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City; and the state capitol building, St. Paul, Minnesota.  LaFarge also created stained glass windows for libraries, various churches, and the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina.

LaFarge married Margaret Mason Perry (1839-1925) on October 15, 1860.  The couple had eight children.  Among them was John LaFarge, Jr. (1888-1963), a Jesuit priest and a vocal opponent of racism and anti-Semitism.  Two other sons became architects.

LaFarge died at Providence, Rhode Island, on November 14, 1910.  He was 78 years old.






Gracious God, we thank you for the vision of Ralph Adams Cram, John LaFarge and Richard Upjohn,

whose harmonious revival of the Gothic enriched our churches with a

sacramental  understanding of reality in the face of secular materialism;

and we pray that we may honor your gifts of the beauty of holiness given through them,

for the glory of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 6:12-20

Psalm 118:19-29

Ephesians 2:17-22

Matthew 7:24-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 123


Updated on December 25,  2016