Julius Friedrich Sachse.

Justus Falckner, mystic and scholar, devout Pietist in Germany, hermit on the Wissahickon, missionary on the Hudson : a bi-centennial memorial of the first regular ordination of an orthodox pastor in online

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Online LibraryJulius Friedrich SachseJustus Falckner, mystic and scholar, devout Pietist in Germany, hermit on the Wissahickon, missionary on the Hudson : a bi-centennial memorial of the first regular ordination of an orthodox pastor in → online text (page 4 of 9)
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the doctrine of the same.

This change was made necessary as there was at that time no English
Lutheran clergymen within the State, and the services for some time had
been held partly or wholly in English.

In 181S the charter was again amended, giving the vestry power to sell
some of its landed posessions.

In all of these amendments thus far it is emphatically stated that any
and all ministers shall be in the ministry of the Lutheran or Protestant
Episcopal Churches. Dr. Collin lived until 1S31, having been pastor of
Gloria Dei for some 45 years. Dr. Collin during his long ministry of
almost half a century, was always a consistent Lutheran, although at the
English services he was forced to permit the use of the book of Common
Prayer in his churches, as there were then no Lutheran Liturgical books
in the English language, still he never considered his congregations other
than orthodox Lutheran. All of his assistants subsequent to the revolu-
tion owed fealty to the Episcopal Church, and although the question was
frequently agitated among these assistants how to carry the churches over
bodily into the Episcopal fold, their plans were always frustrated by the ven-
erable Swedish shepherd. After the decease of the,old Lutheran patriarch
in October, 1S31, however, upon the very next Sunday there was an entire

62 Dominie Justus Falckner.

the historical, romantic or religious importance of the one
we are now about to describe.

It is true that it was only the ordination of an humble
Saxon student, a German Pietist of the Halle school, as a
missionary pastor to labor in another province, among
people of a still different nationality and tongue, according
to the Swedish ritual, by clergymen owing fealty to the
Archbishop at Upsala.

We have here upon this solemn occasion a union of three
races, viz., German, Swede and Hollander, all combined
in a single object, to furnish a regularly ordained pastor as
missionary among the scattered Lutherans in the provinces
of New York and East Jersey, a territory in which the
Calvinist almost reigned supreme.

The historic importance of this occasion will become even
more apparent when we recall the fact that this was the
first regular ordination of an orthodox clergyman in Penn-
sylvania, if not in the western world of which we have any
authentic record.

While the names and services are long forgotten of the
many godly men, Lutheran and Protestant Episcopal, who
during the past two centuries have so faithfully served
within the bounds of this venerable religious landmark on

conformity to the doctrine and worship of the Protestant Episcopal
Church, and old Gloria Dei became lost to the Lutherans for time to

In 1846 the charter was again amended, when the word Lutheran was
finally stricken out of the charter.

Dr. Colin's assistants were Rev. Joseph Clarkson, 1787-92, who was the
first minister to be ordained by Bishop White in the Protestant Episcopal
Church in America, and was ordained for the express purpose of serving
the Swedish Lutheran churches on the Delaware ; Rev. Slaytor Clay,
1792-1S21 ; Rev. Joseph Turner; Rev. John C. Clay; Rev. James Wilt-
bank, 1S16-20; Rev. M. B. Roche; Rev. Chas. M. Dupuy, 1S22-28; Rev.
Pierce Connelly, 1828-31.

Ordination. 63

the banks of the Delaware, the name, history and story of
this humble German Pietist, Justus Falckner, the first of
the many saintly men to come to this Province from the
Halle institutions, is still kept in bright remembrance, and
the story of his life and labors furnishes one of the bright-
est pages in the religious history of New York and Penn-
sylvania, which are now the two greatest commonwealths
in the American union.

It was a solemn ceremony which was enacted upon that
bleak November day within the bare walls of the Swedish
church on the banks of the Delaware. The sacred struc-
ture, as yet bare and unfinished, lacked both tower and
side projections. The interior, with its rough walls and
exposed roof, earthen floors and hard benches, well matched
the unadorned altar within the recess in the east, separated
by a rude railing from the body of the church and its
primitive surroundings.

Upon this occasion no pealing organ, with a multitude
of stops and pedals, vestured choir, or elaborate music
made melody for the service. No long procession of robed
clergy, with mitred bishop surrounded by acolytes and led
by the cross-bearer, were present to add dignity to the scene
and impress the beholder with awe.

The ceremony of ordination, although simple and devoid
of all pomp and glitter, was none the less solemn and im-
pressive. This was greatly due to a number of the Theo-
sophical Brethren from the ridge, under the leadership of
Magister Johannes Kelpius, who had come down from the
Wissahickon to give eclat to the elevation of one of their
number as presbyter in the Lutheran Church.

The Theosophical Brotherhood, partly clad in the habit
of the German University student, others in the rough
pilgrim garb of unbleached homespun, occupied the front

64 Dotninie Justus Falckner.

benches, while the rear of the church was filled with a
number of Swedes and a sprinkling of English Churchmen
and Dissenters. It is said that even a few Quakers and
Indians were attracted to the church, and enhanced the
picturesqueness of the scene.

The service was opened with a voluntary on the little
organ " in the gallery by Jonas the organist,'^ supple-
mented with instrumental music by the Mystics on the viol,
hautboy,^' trumpets {Posamien) and kettle-drums (Pauken)}*
After this they intoned the Anthem :

Veni Creator Spiritus.

While this was being sung, a little procession of six per-
sons entered the church by the west portal. First came

'^This is the earliest reference to a ciiurch organ in any Protestant
church in America. It is not Icnown to a certainty just where or when
they obtained it. If it had been sent over from Sweden in response to the
appeal of Justus Falckner in his missive to Dom. Muhlen that fact would
undoubtedly have appeared upon the records. There is a strong probability
that this instrument was brought over by Kelpius and his party in 1694,
and that it was originally set up in the tabernacle on the Wissahickon.

The present writer has seen a letter by Kelpius in which reference is
made to an organ, but all trace of this paper now seems to be lost.
There is also an account that Dr. Witt and others of the community
built an organ at Germantown or Wissahickon at an early day. Among
the musical instruments brought over by the Brotherhood was a virginal
(a keyed instrument, something like a pianoforte). This afterwards re-
verted to the widow of Magister Zimmerman, and appears in the inventory
of her effects.

The first church organ introduced into Christ Church, Philadelphia,
was obtained in 172S from Ludovic Christian Sprogell, who was one of
the survivors of the Brotherhood on the Wissahickon.

"The earliest mention of Jonas the organist is in Sandel's diary, under
date July 20, 170J, as one of the number that accompanied Pastor Rudman
part of the way on his journey to New York.

"Hautboy, a wind instrument, somewhat like a flute or clarionette.

" Vide Kelpius Diary, Selig, Sendschreiben and Pennsylvania Maga-
xine, Vol. XI, page 434.

s ± >

O X > o



A Solemn Procession, 65

two churchwardens, then the candidate for ordination, with
Rev. Andreas Sandel as sponsor '^ by his side ; lastly.
Revs. Erick Biorck and Andreas Rudman, the latter as
suffragan or vice-bishop.^"

As the little procession reached the chancel rail, the two
wardens [Eldeste) stood on either side of the railing, while
the suffragan and the two pastors entered within the chan-
cel and ranged themselves in front and at either side of the
altar, upon which were placed a crucifix and lighted tapers.
The suffragan was robed in a girdled surplice, with chas-
uble^' and stole, while the two assistants wore the black
clerical robe '^ {Schwarze Taler). The candidate, wearing
the collegiate gown of the German University, knelt before
the rail, upon which a chasuble^ {ckor kemd) had been
previously placed.

The anthem being ended, the suffragan, standing in front
of the altar facing the congregation, opened the services
proper with an invitation to prayer. Then turning to the
east, while all kneeled, he repeated the following invocation.

["Almighty and everlasting God; the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who himself has commanded us that we
shall pray for laborers in thy harvest, we pray thy un-
searchable mercy that thou wouldst send us right-minded
teachers, and give thy holy and wholesome Word into
their hearts and mouths, so that they without error may
both correctly teach and perfectly execute all thy com-

'^ Sandel also acted as secretary of the Consistorium on this occasion.

*" Vide " Hallesche Nachrichten," new ed., pp. 441, 47S; also W. C.
Berkenmeyer vs. Van Dieren, J. Peter Zenger, New York, 1728.

'"This garment was not strictly a chasuble, but a white lace garment
similar to the Roman surplice.

'* Similar to the one still worn by the Lutheran clergy.

"Also known as a " Mess-hemd," a short white garment worn over the
black robe when officiating at the altar.

66 Dominie Justus Falckner.

mandments, in order that we being taught, exhorted, com-
forted and strengthened by thy holy Word, may do that
which is pleasing unto thee and useful to us.

" Grant us, O Lord, thy Holy Spirit, that thy Word may
always remain among us ; that it may increase and bear
fruit, and that thy servant may with befitting courage
preach thy Word, so that thy holy Christian Church "
may be edified thereby, and may serve thee in steadfast
faith, and forever continue in the knowledge of thee.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."]

The suffragan then arose and turned to the congrega-
tion, after which Rev. Sandel, acting as consistorial secre-
tary, advanced to the chancel rail and read out the name
of the candidate and the charge to which he was called.

The suffragan, then addressing the kneeling candidate,
said : " Inasmuch as you, Justus Falckner, are called to the
Holy office of the Ministry, and in order that you with us,
and we with you, may righth^ understand the sacredness of
this calling, then let us hear the promise and the exhortation
of the Word of God." At this point. Rev. Biorck stepped
forward and read out the following parts of Scripture :

Matt, xxviii, 18-20; St. John ii, 15-17, xx, 21-23;
Matt. X, 32-33 ; 2 Cor. v, 17-20; Jeremiah xv, 19; Matt,
v, 13-16; I Tim. iv, 7-8, 12-14, 16; 2 Tim. ii, 15-16,
22-25 ; I Peter v, 2-4.

When this reading was concluded, Vice-Bishop Rudman
advanced and said: " May God give you grace that you
may faithfully guard these sayings in your heart. May
they be a guide for your conversation, and remind you of
your responsibility. May it increase your watchfulness,
uphold your zeal, and now and forever consecrate you to
the service of Heaven.

"Literally, congregation.

Induction into the Holy Office, 67

" The Church of Jesus Christ expects of you that, being
sensible of the weight of the ministerial office, you your-
self shall consider the important duties which this office
lays upon your shoulders. The Church of Jesus Christ
expects of you that, in believing prayers in the name of
Jesus Christ, you implore God for grace and power worthily
to exercise it. The Church of Jesus Christ expects of you
that you fight a good and faithful fight, lay hold of eternal
life and make a good confession. Confess therefore your
faith before God and this congregation."'

Sandel, as secretary, now advanced and slowly read the
Apostolic Creed, each word being carefully repeated by the
candidate before the next following one was uttered by the
secretary." When this important feature of the ritual was
concluded the suffragan said :

" May the Lord God grant unto you grace to stand fast
in this faith to the end, and to strengthen those who are
your brethren in the faith."

Advancing to the kneeling candidate, the suffragan
asked the following questions :

" Do you, Justus Falckner, declare yourself willing to
undertake this holy ministerial office in the name of the
holy Trinity ? "

To which the candidate answered a clear " Yes."

"Will you solemnly promise that this office shall be
worthily and rightly administered in all its parts, to the
glory of God and the salvation of souls ? *'

Again the same clear response, "Yes."

"Will you always continue in the pure Word of God,
flee all false and heretical teaching, preach Jesus Christ
according to the Word of God, and administer the Holy
Sacraments according to his institution?"

" The original states that the confession was spelled out letter for letter,
word for word.

68 Dominie Justus Falckner.

Response, " I will."

"Will you so regulate your life that it may be an ex-
ample to the faithful, and shall scandalize no one?"

The kneeling man again answered in the affirmative.

The suffragan continuing, said :

"You acknowledge therefore j'our obligations. You
have declared it to be your purpose to fulfill them. Con-
firm it now with your oath of office."

The obligation was then administered upon the Holy
Evangels by the acting secretary.^

After which the suffragan continued :

" May the Almighty God strengthen you and help you
to keep all this, and according to the power given to me in
God's stead by the Church, I hereby confer upon you the
ministerial dignity in the name of God the Father and the
Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen."

The candidate here again kneeled, while the Brother-
hood intoned, to the soft strains of instrumental music,

the hymn :

" Veni Sancto Spirit,
Reple tuorum corda fidelium."

During the singing of this hymn, the suffragan, assisted
by the two clergymen, invested the candidate with the
chasuble and stole. When this ceremony was completed
and the hymn sung, the suffragan repeated the Lord's
Prayer, while he imparted the Apostolic succession " by
the laying on of hands. He then returned to the altar,
and said, "Let us pray." Then, turning once more to the
east he read the following invocation :

"O everlasting merciful God; dear heavenly Father,
who through thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast

"Text of obligation is missing.

'''This was according to the Swedish ritual.

Invocation. 69

said unto us, the harvest is plenteous but the laborers are
few ; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He
send forth laborers into His harvest, and who by these
words hast made us understand that we cannot procure
right-minded and faithful teachers except only of thy
merciful hand : we pray thee therefore of our whole heart
that thou wouldst mercifully look upon this thy servant
who is now ordained to thy service and to the holy office
of thy Ministry, and give him thy Holy Spirit, so that he
may go forth under watching and be strengthened by thy
Word, and be able to stand fast in the fight for thy king-
dom, and to execute thy work, teach and reprove men
with all humility and learning ; in order that thy Holy
Gospel may continue among us pure and unadulterated,
and bear for us the fruit of salvation and of eternal life.
Through thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Here the suffragan, turning to the kneeling postulant,
said : " Bow down your heart to God and receive the

After this was given the impressive liturgy was at an
end. The Theosophists then intoned the 115th Psalm:
" iVb« Nobis Dominic,''' during which the little procession
reformed and as the last verse was sung slowly left the
church, and the solemn and impressive ceremonial which
marked the first regular ordination of a Protestant clergy-
man in America was at an end.

The reader may ask : Did the newly ordained pastor
keep his sacred ordination vows ? This the sequel of our
sketch will show. It may, however, be permitted here to
say without anticipation that no more active, disinterested
or pious clergyman ever labored among the Germans and
Dutch during the trying colonial period than this same
Justus Falckner.


Dominie Justus Falckner.

After the ordination services were over, a diploma, such
as was used in the Swedish Lutheran Church at that day,
was filled out in due form, and laid upon the altar before
which the ordination had taken place, and there was signed
and sealed by the three officiating clergymen, after which it
was handed to the newly ordained presbyter. It ended thus :

" They, indeed, who have been legitimately called to
this holy office, can enjoy a tranquil conscience, and re-
member their call not without peculiar consolation, and by
it, as a shield, protect themselves against all the darts of
adversities. In their number the most eminent and most
excellent Master Justus Falckner, is to be reckoned, who
being in due form and order inducted into Holy orders by
prayer and the laying on of hands, this 24th day of
November was set apart for the Ministry of the Church,
we pray God to deign to add success to the office and daily
to increase to the new Minister the gifts that have been
bestowed, to the glory of His name, the welfare of the
Church and his servants profit.

" Given on the day of his inauguration in the year 1703
at Wicaco in Pennsylvania "

Andrew Rudman,
formerly pastor at Wicaco, afterwards of the
Lutheran Church in New York, and now about
returning to his native land ;

Erick Biorck,
Pastor of the church at Christiana ;

Andrew Sandel,
Pastor of the Lutheran Church at Wicacoa in

As Dominie.


Thus the new dominie was sent out to minister in the
adjoining Provinces ; and to the Orthodox Lutheran Church
in Pennsylvania is due to the honor of having ordained
and sent out the first man, a native of Saxony, for domestic
missions in the western world ; who was to labor, not alone
among those of his own kith and kin, but among people
who used a European tongue foreign to his own.

M^ pdLiA



Dominie Falckner in New York.


NER at once made
preparations to enter upon
his new field of labor. He
arrived in New York city
on Thursday, the second
of December, or just eight
days after his ordination.
After preaching on the
third and fourth Sundays
in Advent, he was accepted
as their regular pastor by
the oldest Lutheran con-
gregation in America.
Immediately upon his
acceptance of the charge Dominie Falckner deposited his
diploma of ordination among the archives of the church.
Unfortunately, this, together with other documents of the
colonial period deposited within the church, are now miss-
ing, and have evidently long since been lost or destroyed.




































In Nezv York. 73

Possibly no document has been so diligently and per-
sistently sought for by historians and investigators than
this diploma, as its historical value to the Lutheran and
Protestant Episcopal Church can hardly be overestimated.
The search, however, seemed hopeless, although reports
were repeatedly made, notably by a western writer, that the
coveted document had been seen and in one instance se-
cured. Upon investigation, however, these stories proved

During the past summer, however, it was the good for-
tune of the writer to examine a number of papers, sent to
Holland by the New York Congregation, among which was
a copy of this very document in Justus Falckner's own
handwriting together with the correspondence which led
to his acceptance of the charge, also a minute account of
the affairs as they were during his pastorate.


One of the first official acts performed by Dominie Falck-
ner after his arrival in New York, was to send a report and
copy of his ordination to the Lutheran Consistory at Am-
sterdam, under whose patronage the church in New York
was established and to whom they looked for assistance
and encouragement.

While in Holland during the past summer, the writer,
in conversation with Rev. J. Nicum, D.D., learned that
in the archive room of the old Lutheran church in Am-
sterdam there were bundles of old papers and reports, un-
classified, nor even their contents known. Acting upon this

74 DoJtiinie Justus Falckner.

hint another visit was paid to that northern Venice, and by
good fortune access was obtained to the archives of the
church. In wading through a mass of papers, a bundle of
old, yellow, time-stained folio sheets were found — they were
in the handwriting of Justus Falckner — the first was a copy
of his ordination, the second copies of the letters of Rud-
man and Biorck before quoted. There were also reports
from the congregation and other letters.

By courtesy of the clergy of the church, notably Rev.
Dr. P. van Wijk, Jr., and Captain A. F. P. Carstens, of
the corporation, photographic copies were obtained of the
most important papers and certified written copies of the

A facsimile of Justus Falckner's copy of the original or-
dination is now for the first time presented to the American
reader. The writer will also state that this has since been
certified to as correct and authentic by the highest Lutheran
Episcopal authorities of Sweden.

The first record made by him in the Kercken-Boeck, or
church register, shortly after his arrival sets forth the facts
of his call in Dutch, with a short prayer in classical Latin.

Anno Christi — 1703. ten 2' December, ben Ick Justus
Falckner, gebooren in Sassen in Germania tot Langen-
Reinsdorff onder het Ampt Zwickau, van Philadelphia hier
in Newyorck nae voorgaende Beroepinge, aenge komen,
en hebbe den derden Advents Sondagh twee Praedicatien
in de Lutherische Kercke allhier gehouden ; Diesglycken
oock den vierten Advents Sondagh : Daerop ben ick van
het Consistorium der Christelycken Protestantischen Luther-
ischen Gemeene, tot haer ordentlycke Pastor en Leraer
aengenomen wordten !

[In the name of Jesus. In the year of Christ, 1703, on
the second of December, I Justus Falckner, born in Saxony,

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Online LibraryJulius Friedrich SachseJustus Falckner, mystic and scholar, devout Pietist in Germany, hermit on the Wissahickon, missionary on the Hudson : a bi-centennial memorial of the first regular ordination of an orthodox pastor in → online text (page 4 of 9)