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The Language Problem in the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania 1742–1820

  • Armin George Weng (a1)


The Lutheran church in America has always been faced with the problem of language. Because Lutherans have come to America from continental Europe, there has been the question from earliest colonial days as to which language, or languages, would be used in the services of worship.



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1 Acrelius, Israel, History of New Sweden or the Settlements on the River Delaware, translated by Reynolds, W. M., Vol. XI of Memoirs of Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1874, p. 197.

2 Kunze, Johann Christoph, Elisa's betrauter Nachruf bei der Hinwegnahme seines Gottesmannes Elias, eine Gedächtnispredigt auf den Abschied des Herrn D. und, Senior Heinrich Melchior Muhlenbergs, Philadelphia, 1787, p. 18.

3 Hallesche Nachrichten, old edition, Halle, 1787, p. 234.

4 Documentary History of the Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., 1898, p. 108.

5 Seidensticker, Oswald, Geschichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft von Pennsylvanien, Philadelphia, 1876, pp. 1839.

6 “Appeal to the Germans in America,” Evangelisches Magazin, Philadelphia, Vol. II., Part 1, October, November, December, 1812.

7 Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 47, 70, 175, 193.

8 Documentary History, p. 353.

9 MSS. Helmuth's Diary, in the archives of the Krauth Library, Lutheran Theoloical Seminary, Philadelphia.

10 Mann, William J., Life and Times of Henry Melchior Muthlenberg, Philadelphia, Pa., 1887, p. 406.

11 MSS. Life of John Schmidt, written by his son, Smith, Justice Jacob, 1825, p. 106. In the archives of the Krauth Library.

12 Gegen-Vorstellung an die gesammten Glieder der Deutsch Evangelisch. Lutherischen Gememe in und bey PhiLadelphia, 1805.

13 Address, of the Committee, appointed by a large number of members of the German Lutheran Congregation in Philadelphia, to the corporation of the same: with their answer, Philadelphia, 1805, p. 20.

14 MSS. Records of St. John's English Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, p. 4. “An Act of Incorporation, and Fundamental Rules of the Church Government of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. John's Church, in the city and vicinity of Philadelphia.”

15 Trial of Frederick Eberle and Others, taken in shorthand by James Carson, Philadelphia, 817, p. 216.

16 Observations addressed to the Members of the German Lutheran congregation, in and near Philadelphia, upon the subject of preaching only German and the consequent decline of their conaregation, Philadelphia, 1815.

17 Trial of Frederick Eberle, p. 218.

18 MSS. Minute Book of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, 1818–1823, p. 2.

19 MSS. Record of Baptisms of St. Matthew's Church.

20 Luther's Works. Otto Clemen Edition, Bonn, 1913, Vol. III, p. 296.

21 The Lutheran Historical Society of Gettysburg and the Krauth Memorial Library at Philadelphia have splendid collections of local, conference, and synodical histories.

22 Ziegenfuss, S. A., A Brief and succinct History of Saint Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania, 1730–1905. Philadelphia, 1905, p. 26.

23 Whitteker, J. E., An Outline History of a Church: A Memorial of the One Hundred and Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of Trinity Lutheran Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Lancaster, 1905, p. 10; Krotel, Gottlob F., Memorial Volume of the Evang. Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, Lancaster, Pa., Lancaster 1861, p. 44.

24 Gilbert, D. M., Centennial of Zion Lutheran Church. Harrisburg, Pa., Philadelphia, 1896, 135; Theodore Emmanuel Schmauk, A History of the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania from the Original Sources, Vol I, Philadelphia, 1903, p. 426.

25 Schmucker, Beale M., The Lutheran Church in York, Penn., Gettysburg, Pa., 1888, p. 49; Stump, Adam and Anstadt, Henry, History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of West Pennsylvania of the United Lutheran Church in America, 1825–1925, Chainbersburg, Pa., 1925, p. 630.

26 Fretz, Franklin K., Historical Sketch of St. John's Lutheran Church, Easton, 1915, p. 22.

27 Fry, Jacob, The History of Trinity Lutheran Church, Reading, Pa., Reading, 1894, p. 121; Documentary History, p. 268.

28 Richards, J.W., Centenary Jubilee of the Ev. Lutheran Church of Augustus, Trappe, May 2, A. D. 1842; Sermon, The Fruitful Retrospect, Pottstown, Pa., 1843, p. 14; Kretsclaman, Ernest T., The Old Trappe Church, Philadelphia, 1893 p. 28.

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Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
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