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. I'm having problems voting. I couldn't get the vote to register from my iPad, and earlier (Saturday, maybe) I couldn't vote at all. Today I had to go to my laptop to vote.

  2. First, I will admit it's hard to pass on a fellow Capricorn, especially since our birthdays are only 3 days apart. That being said, Albert Schweitzer was one of the most amazing humans to grace this world. Some call him an overachiever, I say he was a man who used his intelligence and gifts from God to make the world a better place in multiple ways! For this I will always be grateful.

  3. we should be giving homage to schweitzer wife she was obviously a bigger part of his success than is ever mentioned

    1. Both their wives, I think. Mrs. Muhlenberg had quite a task on her hands keeping their home and tending their children.

  4. I have been reading all the comments, but while I have no problem voting with my phone, I have for the last two years been unable to comment with my phone, and due to a series of mishaps with my home computer, this is my first opportunity to comment.
    I was born the same year that Schweitzer won the Nobel Prize, and I grew up hearing about this incredible man making sacrifices to help the people of a distant country in Africa. Now I work for a mission organization, and upon my retirement at the end of April, I plan on traveling to Tanzania for the first time to visit the missioners I have known for over 20 years in the place where they work. It has been my dream ever since I started working here.
    How can I not vote for Dr. Schweitzer?

  5. I have to vote for Muhlenberg. I've lived in Philly for seven years now, and hike almost every day in the Wissahickon river valley,former home of a colony of early mystics- the hermits of the Wissahickon. Muhlenberg's brand of Lutheran theology, the Pennsylvania Quakers, the Wissahickon hermits, Catholics, Jews- all lived here in a spirit of tolerance that informed the founding fathers' decision to promote religious freedom, separation of Church and State, when they wrote in the Constitution in Philadelphia.

  6. I grew up hearing about Albert Schweitzer constantly from my dad, who was also a doctor who loved theology and Bach. Schweitzer was such a huge inspiration to my dad, who even bought a bust of him, which he kept on one of his bookshelves. I knew the names Schweitzer and Lambaréné as a young child! Schweitzer's story was ingrained in me as an example of how to live. Excited to be able to cast my vote for him.

  7. What made Albert Schweitzer the clincher for me was his great enthusiasm of the bicycle which he used beginning in high school and later during his 1893 student residency at the Theological College of St. Thomas, University of Strasbourg. Although one of his professors was opposed to theological students riding bikes. "Today's youth cannot imagine what the coming of the bicycle meant to us. It opened up undreamed of opportunities for getting out into nature."

  8. You can't beat a saint who lives out his faith in true service to others to heal. His musicality and connection to Bach are added pluses. Albert Schweitzer for the win!

  9. While I love and admire Schweitzer, I voted for Heinrich. My main reason was my beloved father was Lutheran. His father, my grandfather, immigrated from Austria to the U.S. and settled in Allentown to start. Several people from their village had preceded them there, but now I also wonder if the strong Lutheranism there, and then in NJ where they lived, were a draw. This vote's vote you, dad!

  10. Both outstanding saints today and I'm quite sure I know who the "winner" will be so I cast a vote for the underdog. Emulating either saint in even the tiniest way would be a noble cause and pleasing to God.

  11. I am the grandson of missionaries and have sung in Episcopal church choirs in a number of congregations. I love the music of J S Bach and must vote for his follower, Albert Schweitzer.

  12. Both of these men were great. I voted for Albert Schweitzer, but I also thought highly for Henry Muhlenberg. May the next time he is on the list, I will be able to vote for him.

  13. In my heart I voted for both. Growing up in the 1950's I learned a lot about Albert Schweitzer and how he was such a humanitarian and did so much to help the human condition. Not raised Lutheran I never heard of Henry Muhlenberg but he did much to evangelize in the new world. I decided he needed a little glory so voted for him.

  14. With a background in science before moving to theology, I am drawn to Albert Schweitzer. I am in awe of the breadth of his knowledge and his commitment to service.

  15. I hope Henry Muhlenberg will return to the brackets with a more fortuitous matchup!
    Schweitzer was a renaissance person for the ages -- even if he apparently had some unfortunate and outdated attitudes about race -- and I suppose deserves to be the rightful winner of this round. And I served a brief mission stint in Kenya before I started seminary, so his African years resonate with me.
    But I am another Pennsylvania resident with a great admiration for Muhlenburg! When I lived in Lehigh County I participated in several programs offered by the Institute for Religious and Cultural Understanding, a wonderful interfaith organization based at wonderful and diversity-minded Muhlenberg College. Henry would have been proud of their work.
    I have never made it this far in the brackets before casting my vote for the underdog, but I'm inclined to do so today.

  16. Another day and I still can’t vote. I’ve tried at all hours of day and night. Is there still a server problem?

  17. I found this to be a close call, but I had to vote for Henry Muhlenberg, because my younger brother was born in Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey.

  18. I was christened Episcopalian and raised Lutheran. I followed my great grandfather to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. H.M. Muhlenberg was a fascinating individual and I for one am glad he chose to travel to PA to to help the colonists grow their faith.

  19. I find today an impossible choice. I was born into the Lutheran Church in New York -- don't know if it was one founded by Herr Muhlenberg. I admire both of them for being willing to follow the call of God. Not sure who to vote for, but being one who usually favors the underdog, I will probably vote for Henry Muhlenberg and pray that he shows up in a future LM.

  20. I was born in 1952, when Schweitzer won his Nobel Prize. I heard much about him when I was growing up, and I admired the organ playing doctor who would leave his home and travel across the world to help people far, far away. Now I work for a mission organization who sends lay people to Africa, Asia and Latin America to do pretty much the same thing. I also am planning to retire at the end of April and travel to Tanzania to visit the missioners there.
    How could I not vote for Dr. Schweitzer?

  21. Both of these men are worthy, but I voted for Henry Muhlenberg, partly because Albert Schweitzer has already had massive acclaim, partly because Muhlenberg came to the U.S. to organize and serve. He could organize, educate, administer, and write liturgy, making him a formidable leader. He's somewhat of an American Paul, so he gets my vote today, though I don't doubt that the better known Schweitzer will sweep.

  22. Seems to me Muhlenberg ( whom I had not previously known) and Schweitzer had similar impacts. I voted for the underdog.

  23. A dental hygienist and pastor must vote for a physician and a theologian. Two peas in a pod except i'm alot lazier.

    1. Gillian, thank you for posting the link to find out more about Mùlenberg's Anglican grandson. The mere mention of him in a few of the comments whetted my curiosity to find out more about him...and, voila!, there's a link to do just that!! You deserve an "Honorable Mention" from those of us who clicked the link. So I, for one, say "Thank you very much! I appreciate your kind thoughtfulness."

  24. My husband and I lived in Haiti 1977-79. There was an Albert Schweitzer Hospital in the Artibonite Valley that is still going strong. At the time my husband worked for a well-known international relief and development non-profit, and the ASH was well-known for its wonderful work and ability not only to treat Haitians but also to offer job training and opportunities. In fact, we bought a Haitian-made, handcrafted dresser there--and 45+ years later, it now graces our small granddaughter's bedroom.

  25. This was quite difficult. I am Lutheran/Anglican. I found Muhlenberg absolutely fascinating. I didn’t know how Lutheranism came to the United States. For all the work he did for the church, I just couldn’t vote for him as he was just too politically involved for my comfort. So Mr. Schweitzer got my vote even if I am not particularly fond of Bach. 🙂