Saturday, January 2, 2010

On the Ninth Day of Christmas: Wilhelm Loehe

Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe had a worldwide impact on Confessional Lutheranism in the 19th Century.

Under his direction two seminaries were formed (Concordia in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Wartburg in Dubuque, Iowa).

Many Lutherans in the Saginaw Valley (Michigan) can trace their roots back to Loehe's efforts in the United States.  The Franconian Colonies each formed with German settlers from the Bavarian region of Germany.  These include Frankenmuth, Frankentrost, Frankenlust and Frankenhilf (which is now Richville).  Each of these churches has served as a mother church to other congregations.

Loehe had great concern for the immigrants in the US because there was a great lack of pastors to serve all the Lutherans there.  He sent "emergency workers" to serve the hoards of Germans who came to the US.

Loehe supported and befriended the the Missouri Synod at first, but severed ties when Missouri adopted a congregational structure and because he disagreed with the Missouri doctrine of the pastoral office.

Those who agreed with Loehe formed the Iowa Synod (now part of the ELCA) and founded a teachers college that became Wartburg Seminary.

Loehe's influence can be felt across American Lutheranism even though he never so much as visited the United States.  His emergency workers held together Lutheran teaching when Lutherans were adopting Calvinist and Arminian teaching and practice.  The seminaries he helped to found still contribute to the life of the church.  Even today some churches use his setting of the liturgy.

Loehe's hymn, "Wide Open Stands the Gates" can be found in the communion section of Lutheran Service Book (#639).  You might recognize the tune as "Jerusalem, Thou City Fair and Bright."

Here is a setting by Melchior Franck.

Here are two wonderful settings from Max Reger, the second of which is "Jerusalem..." The first is the Epiphany hymn, "Wie Schoen Leuchtet..."

For more information on Loehe and his influences, check out the following links.


  1. Thanks for sharing the Max Reger chorales. It "inspired" me to play through these today during organ practice and reminded me how lush they are. Thanks!

  2. No problem, Chris. I had forgotten about these wonderful works. Have a blessed New Year!


Differing opinions are welcome! Please keep comments on an academic level. Lively discussions and alternate opinions are productive, arguments and accusations are not.

Please leave a name or pseudonym at the end of your comment so the conversation can continue. Alternately, you can log in using Yahoo, AOL/AIM, Google, Netlog, or Open ID on any comment page.

Comment Moderation is on to ensure that blog author reads each comment. The goal is to read and reply to each comment.

Note: you may have to hit "Preview" first and then "Post."