Henry Mühlenberg vs. Albert Schweitzer

Welcome to the Battle of the Lutheran Legends as Henry Mühlenberg faces Albert Schweitzer. Both born in Germany, one in the 18th century, the other in the 19th. Both Lutherans. Both with fascinating vocational and creative paths. But only one will advance to the Saintly Sixteen.

Yesterday, Canaire prevailed over Barbara 54% to 46% to make it to the next round.

And if you missed yesterday's edition of Monday Madness...for shame! However, you can still watch it here.

Time to vote!

Henry Mühlenberg

Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg is credited with bringing Lutheranism to the New World, thereby earning him the title “Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America.” But his mark on this new land stretched beyond religion and far into the emerging country and the halls of U.S. government.

Born September 6, 1711, in Hanover, Germany, Mühlenberg was educated at the University of Halle and studied theology at the University of Göttingen where he joined with others in charitable works, including the founding of an orphanage. He was ordained in 1739.

A pastor with a great reputation, he responded to the 1742 missionary call from the far-flung German-speaking colonists in Pennsylvania who wished for leadership to worship in their Lutheran faith.

Despite the challenges and financial woes he faced, Mühlenberg excelled as a church planter and was a competent administrator, a detailed organizer, and an educator. He was known to express views against slavery on these shores.

While his ministry centered in the Keystone State, Mühlenberg started congregations in Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. His oversight eventually reached 80 congregations. His dedicated training of new pastors assured the span and reach of Lutheranism.

Mühlenberg’s impact cannot be underestimated. His legacy is intertwined with the roots of this country and lives on in religion, government, print, and education.

His significant accomplishments include the creation of the first Lutheran synod in America, known as the Pennsylvania Ministerium. He was successful in writing a uniform liturgy for Lutheran churches. Of equal significance, in 1761 the church constitution he penned was accepted, and his hymnal followed in 1786.

He strove to stay neutral during the Revolutionary War, despite his children taking active parts. However, in 1777 the British considered him an enemy.

Mühlenberg and his wife Anna Maria, the daughter of a prominent colonial leader, raised 11 children. Among them: Peter Gabriel, an ordained pastor and a Major General in the Continental Army who was elected to the U.S. Congress; Frederick, the first U.S. Congress Speaker of the House; Henry, Jr., a scientist who became president of Franklin College (now Franklin & Marshall); Elisabeth, married to Revolutionary War hero General Francis Swaine; Maria Salome, called Sally, wed to U.S. Congressman Matthias Richards; Eve, married to Emmanuel Shulze, whose son John Andrew Schulze was elected the sixth Governor of Pennsylvania. Mühlenberg’s great-grandson, William Augustus Muhlenberg, was a prominent Anglican priest.

Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was named in his honor following his dedication to education.

Mühlenberg died on October 7, 1787, in Trappe, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, where he is buried.

Collect for Henry Muhlenberg
Loving God, shepherd of your people, we thank you for the ministry of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who left his native land to minister where called; make us mindful of our own vocation to serve where you call us; in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (GCW 2015)

Neva Rae Fox

Albert Schweitzer

Some people would label Albert Schweitzer an over achiever: theologian, philosopher, medical doctor, missionary, author, musician, Nobel Prize winner, and more. But when we read about the remarkable life of Albert, we see someone who lived a scriptural conviction of “with God, all things are possible.”

Albert Schweitzer was born January 14, 1875, in Alsace, Germany (now in France). His father and grandfather were Lutheran ministers, laying the foundation for his desire to study theology and philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. Albert’s studies culminated in a doctorate in philosophy with a focus on Kantian theology and became a licensed pastor. He is well known for the publication of his research in The Quest for the Historical Jesus. Concurrently, Albert continued his musical studies in piano and organ that helped fund his educational pursuits and then later, medical missionaries to Africa. His study of music was in “J.S. Bach: le musicien-poète (1905).”

During his mandatory military service requirement, Albert experienced a mystical epiphany while studying Matthew. In his studies, he heard God’s call to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew10:8). Part of his philosophy of this experience can be found in his treatise “A Philosophy of Civilization” published in 1923.

Upon his return home, Albert enrolled in medical school, specializing in tropical and infectious disease with the intent to be a medical missionary to Africa. Prior to leaving, he published his medical dissertation on “The Psychiatric Study of Jesus.” Then, in 1913, Albert and his bride, Helene Breslau, set sail for Lambaréné  in what is now Gabon, Africa. There, Albert and Helene treated over 2,000 patients suffering from complex diseases such as leprosy, malaria, yellow fever, smallpox, dysentery, elephantiasis, sleeping sickness, and other maladies of .

Albert would continue to perform to raise money for his mission. He best known for his presentation of Bach’s work. That money led to the building of the Schweitzer Hospital in  Lambaréné  including over 70 outbuildings and a refuge for those with leprosy.

Albert continued to write prolifically about his experiences, research, and studies in philosophy, theology and music. He went on to publish additional works including: “The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle,” “Bach’s Organ Works ,” and “The Problem of Peace in the World Today.” Albert was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.  The prize included a $33,000 dollar award that Albert and Helene reinvested in the hospital to continue his work, long after he died.

Collect for Albert Schweitzer
O God, who endowed your servant Albert Schweitzer with a multitude of gifts for learning, beauty, and service: Inspire your Church that we, following his example, may be utterly dedicated to you, that all our works might be done to your glory and the welfare of your people; through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (GCW 2015)

Anna Courie


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106 comments on “Henry Mühlenberg vs. Albert Schweitzer”

  1. Doctor Schweitzer, astounding Alsatian,
    In each field he chose earned admiration.
    To the next round let’s carry in
    This humanitarian —
    A Lent Madness standing ovation.

  2. Albert Schweitzer was quite simply one of the most amazing human beings ever to exist. The number and breadth of his knowledge and accomplishments is breathtaking: theologian, pastor, organist, historian, and finally becoming a physician--in his spare time!--and establishing a missionary hospital in Africa. His deep humanity and faith matched his skills and drive. I cannot imagine NOT voting for him.

  3. How do you vote, frustrating still. Select person, then I’m not a robot, then vote?
    And refresh because it doesn’t work? Over and over until you give up?

    1. Hi Susie. I cannot vote on my tablet but can on my laptop. Do you have the option of changing what you're using, or perhaps changing your browser?

    2. Oftentimes, it's your browser. It may need to be updated or just switch to a different browser. Good Luck! Technology can be frustrating!!!

    3. Hi Susie, So sorry for your voting woes. I'll second the recommendation to try another device or browser if you can. I couldn't vote in DuckDuckGo browser but am able to in Safari.
      Lent madness really is fun once you get the hang of it!
      But remember, the point is to learn about saintly people during Lent. There have been many days over the years when I have read the stories but not voted at all.
      May everyone have a blessed Lent!

    4. Did you access the site via the actual url and not an email link? I think I saw something about the need to go to the web site directly, without the link, in order to enable your vote.

      1. I just tried selecting I am not a robot first and then voting, it went much faster. Thank you for the suggestion

    5. I had to clear my cache last week before I could vote. Sometimes if you have old stuff and your email is hanging out there it will prevent the voting. Try that; it worked for me! If problems persist. Call Forward Movement for customer service. They're great in helping.

    6. I just tried voting for the first time on my iPad today and was also unable to make my selection after having no issues previously with my laptop and iPhone. I discovered than on an iPad using Safari you have to tap on a part of the name not on the button. Just keep tapping moving to the right of the circle and eventually your selection will activate. This appears to be a webpage formatting problem unique to iPad and Safari. Other browsers and devices don’t have this issue. Tim and Scott is this something your Web Wizard could correct?

  4. Henry Muhlenberg was a "new saint" for me, this year -- and in honor of our "Full Communion" sisters and brothers, I'm voting for him.

  5. This was such a hard choice and seems unfair to pit them against each other. Both deserve a vote but alas I have to choose one.

    1. Joyce, I suspect the difficulty in deciding who gets your vote is why it's called "Lent MADNESS"!

  6. I remember when I was in library school, working for the uni library, I found a first edition that was signed by Schweitzer in a collection of books to be assessed and catalogued. I was so excited (yes, I'm a geek). It ended up being placed in our rare book collection. It had been sitting in a warehouse, gathering dust for years. Unfortunately, I can't remember the title.

    1. I voted for Schweitzer and your comment makes me doubly glad! My late wonderful mother-in-law was a librarian. And she would have been excited to find such a rare book.

  7. Both men are remarkable, and both lived exemplary lives. I voted for Albert Schweitzer simply because of familiarity. I was born during his lifetime, and I have been hearing about his accomplishments and contributions since my childhood. He was a true Renaissance man and, as one of my friends described former president Jimmy Carter, "100% Christian." May his memory be a blessing as well as an example.

  8. I believe this is Henry Muhlenberg’s first appearance in LM. Schweitzer was in the 2016 bracket. He certainly did a lot on his own merit, but to raise 11 children who went on to greatness reveals his true character . Muhlenberg gets my vote for being a newcomer and a devoted father.

  9. Who can possibly stand against the incredible record of achievement of Albert Schweitzer? While greatly admiring Schweitzer, but being a proud Pennsylvanian, I was drawn to Henry Muhlenberg. His ministry and influence through his spiritual guidance and extensive church planting and early views against slavery set a path for a moral focus in the early colonies. The wonderful leadership and support of his large family during the American Revolution and afterward in the new Congress leading the young nation is an influence we may find more important than we are aware. Henry's less extensive and diverse work has continued a positive influence to this present day and may have sent many out into the world to heal, teach and encourage. I went with the local saint and voted Muhlenberg!!!

  10. I have always had a soft spot for Schweitzer. He was a practical idealist and that is so rare and precious.

  11. It was interesting to read of both today. My overwhelming support and vote goes to Schweitzer though-medicine, music, Bach, peace and personal sacrifice. Also, I love the Jane Marshall choral setting of He Comes to Us, with text from Schweitzer’s Quest for the Historical Jesus: He comes to us as one unknown, without a name as of old…he will be with us in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which we shall go through in his fellowship. And as an ineffable mystery, we shall learn who He is.

  12. Is it necessary to pit two Lutherans against each other in round one? On a positive side, I recently was called to serve a federated church (PCUSA and ELCA). As an ordained Presbyterian it is nice to read about these two Lutheran heros.

  13. Hmm . . .William Augustus Muhlenberg - he'd be an interesting candidate in some future Lent Madness event.

    1. I second that suggestion! An amazing and wise Episcopal priest; a pioneer of expansive and thoughtful theology, and proponent of open-hearted ministry addressing real needs and hungers in the real world.

    2. Totally agree! He doesn't have a chance against Albert Schweitzer, but his accomplishments are splendid. I hope we'll see him again, in a round where the outcome isn't a given!

  14. Well, being from PA, I felt a definite connection to Muhlenberg. Looks like I’m in the minority though. ‍♀️

  15. I think Albert Schweitzer is particularly relevant to our times. He was always bi-vocational. He used his gifts in so many different areas to do God's work. I love that he used his vocation of musician to support his other callings.

  16. Albert Schweitzer has always been a hero for me. It is time for him to get his golden halo! I need to add him to my cup collection!

  17. Some of my ancestors came to America from Bavaria long after Henry. Albert was born closer to Bavaria than Henry, so Albert gets my vote

    Also, I want to know more about that dissertation of Albert’s come the Quotes & Quirks round.

  18. Mühlenberg was tempting because of his impact on Christianity in the U.S. but I have always respected people who travel to places like "Darkest Africa," giving up the comforts of Western civilization to care for others. I chose Schweitzer.

    1. While I agree that is an important consideration, Henry Muhlenberg's leaving civilized Germany to go to Pennsylvania is somewhat comparable to Albert Schweitzer going from the US to Africa. At the time Henry Muhlenberg answered the call from Pennsylvania residents, Pennsylvania was on the edge of civilization. It was certainly not comfortable or safe. I have to consider the challenges both faced in the context of the times they lived.

  19. Not fair pitting Henry against Albert. Poor Henry doesn't have a chance. Still, the last shall be first...so I voted for Henry.

  20. A little more research is needed here. Albert Schweitzer did not treat only 2000 patients -- No! He treated 2000 patients in the first 9 months! The hospital(s) he founded went on treating people for over 50 years. On the other hand, he said some pretty racist things, including calling Africans "lazy" and "junior brothers." I voted for him before double checking on the 2000 patients (it seemed very low!) and because I didn't think we needed another "Patriarch" of Lutheranism or anything. Please please please can everybody just go see Barbie again? Now I am sorry I voted for either of them. Can I cancel my vote?

  21. Although this was not a difficult choice for me, I had no idea of ALL of the gifts of AS! To hear from God, a mystical experience, a calling to heal… his musical gifts… science, math, fine arts, athleticism are all on the same side of the brain! He certainly used those gifts.

    I did not know HM. He too was an accomplished man utilizing his gifts. For me however, his greatest gift was clearly providing a loving, stable, and grounded environment for his children. Clearly they learned from him. He modeled excellent parenting skills to have so many children and grand children, and other family members who contributed to society’s well being. Parenting, in my opinion is the most important job in any society!

    Both men are remarkable! I voted for AS and will be thrilled with any of these men to continue to the next step!

    I just am thrilled that BOTH are excellent choices!

  22. We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
    Albert Schweitzer

  23. Being a staunch Lutheran from Pennsylvania, I had to vote for Muhlenberg. Although, also being a church organist who used the Schweitzer Bach editions, it was a tough choice.

  24. Hard as it was, voted for Albert, when I live minutes away from Muhlenburg College in the Lehigh Valley, PA

  25. I use my phone and IPad. Trying to vote by opening the link in the email I received never works. However, opening the website in Google always works quickly and easily.