John Christian Bechler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Christian Bechler (7 January 1784 Oesel, Governorate of Livonia (present-day Estonia) - 18 April 1857 Herrnhut, Saxony (present-day Germany)) was a Moravian bishop, composer, and organist.


Grave of John Christian Bechler in Herrnhut

He was educated at the Moravian College and Theological Seminary in Germany, came to the United States in 1806, and entered the boarding school of Nazareth Hall, at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, as a tutor. In the following year the American Moravian Theological Seminary was founded, and he was appointed one of its first professors. Afterward he accepted the principalship of Nazareth Hall, and subsequently had charge of various churches in Pennsylvania and on Staten Island. He was consecrated to the episcopacy at Lititz, Pennsylvania, 17 May 1835, and presided over the southern district. In the following year he went to Europe as a member of the general synod, and did not return, but proceeded to Russia, where he stood at the head of the Moravian establishment at Sarepta, and subsequently was the principal of a similar establishment at Zeist, in the Netherlands.

Bechler was endowed with rare musical talent, and composed various anthems and tunes. While at the seminary, he may have studied with David Moritz Michael.[1] In his memoir, he wrote that he "devoted every moment of time left by other duties, to the acquisition of the various branches of this charming art with the greatest delight, learning to sing, to play various stringed instruments, but more particularly the piano and the organ."[1] His known output, all written in the United States, includes thirty anthems with orchestral accompaniment, settings of liturgical texts, hymns, ariettas with keyboard accompaniment, and a suite for woodwinds.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Nola Reed Knouse. "Bechler, Johann Christian". In Macy, Laura. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.  (subscription required)