Translations of the Book of Common Prayer

Beginning in 1999, I have worked on digitizing the Book of Common Prayer in languages other than English. This is a current list of languages. Links are available at this address.

  1. Addo
  2. Afrikaans
  3. Ainu
  4. Amharic
  5. Aoba
  6. Arabic
  7. Arapaho
  8. Armeno-Turkish
  9. Arosi
  10. Ateso
  11. Awabakal Dialect
  12. Bandi
  13. Bemba
  14. Binandere
  15. Bislama
  16. Bontok Igorot
  17. Bugotu
  18. Bukar
  19. Bullom So
  20. Cheke Holo
  21. Cherokee
  22. Cheyenne
  23. Chichewa
  24. Chinese
  25. Chinsenga
  26. Chinyanja
  27. Chipewyan
  28. Cigogo
  29. Cornish
  30. Cree
  31. Dakota
  32. Deg Xinag
  33. Dholuo
  34. Dinka
  35. Eastern Canadian Inuktitut (Eastern Arctic Eskimo)
  36. English
  37. Eskimo (Point Hope Dialect)
  38. Fijian
  39. Florida Language
  40. French
  41. German
  42. Giatikshan
  43. Grebo
  44. Greek
  45. Haida
  46. Hausa
  47. Hawai’ian
  48. Hebrew
  49. Hindi
  50. “Hindoostanee”
  51. Hungarian
  52. Iban
  53. Igbo
  54. Italian
  55. Japanese
  56. Kamba
  57. Karamojong
  58. Khmer
  59. Kigiryama
  60. Kikuyu
  61. Kirundi
  62. Kisi
  63. Korean
  64. Kreyol
  65. Kurdish
  66. Kwagūtl
  67. Kwanyama
  68. Kwara’ae
  69. Lau
  70. Lavukaleve
  71. Lombaha
  72. Longu
  73. Luganda
  74. Luhya
  75. Maasai (Samburu)
  76. Maewo
  77. Maisin
  78. Malagasy
  79. Malay
  80. Manx
  81. Marathi
  82. Masaba
  83. Merelava
  84. Miriam
  85. Mohawk
  86. Mota
  87. Mundari
  88. Nduindui
  89. Neklakapamuk
  90. Nishga
  91. Norwegian
  92. Nume
  93. Nupe
  94. Ojibwe
  95. Orokaiva (Pereho)
  96. Ottawa Ojibwe
  97. Pashto
  98. Persian
  99. Raga
  100. Russian
  101. Sa’a
  102. Samburu
  103. Samoan
  104. Santa Ana
  105. Saulteaux
  106. Selako
  107. Serbian
  108. Sesutho
  109. Seychellois Creole
  110. Shekiri
  111. Shona
  112. Shoshoni
  113. Sikaiana
  114. Sindhi
  115. Spanish
  116. Swedish
  117. Tagalog
  118. Taita
  119. Tamil
  120. Taveta
  121. Telugu
  122. Thai
  123. Tigara
  124. Tikopia
  125. Toga
  126. Tok Pisin
  127. Tongan
  128. Ubir
  129. Ukrainian
  130. Ulawa
  131. Upper Koyukon
  132. Vai
  133. Vaturanga
  134. Vietnamese
  135. Welsh
  136. Western Eskimo
  137. Wichí
  138. Yiddish
  139. Zimshian
  140. Zulu

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Uncomfortable Genealogy

The Yankee is comfortable in his complacency about racial inequality in the United States, imagining himself unsullied by the slaving stains of American history. I was such an one until I began reading the wills of my mother’s New Jersey ancestors. Everyone who has completed third grade in Pennsylvania knows that slavery had been abolished there in 1780, but almost no one knows that there were still 16 slaves in New Jersey in 1865 who were only manumitted by the Thirteenth Amendment. The peculiar institution was phased out gradually in the Garden State in what modern scholars call blandly a “ragged road to abolition.”

This becomes a matter of personal interest because my maternal family never treated the Delaware River as a boundary and always knew it as a permeable membrane. The German Beidlemanns and Troxells, Dutch Van Attas or Van Ettens, and English Howells and Harts were likely as not until the 1950s to marry across the river, to be born and to die in hospitals on the Pennsylvania side but to live on the New Jersey side, and to be buried wherever one’s wife’s church was in whichever state. It was no accident that I was born on Ferry Street, because it was the crucial ferry that moved goods and people over the water before there was a bridge. Those of us who learned how to swim in the Delaware were given the proud moniker of River Rats, and I still prefer river water to the chlorinated stuff.

When I was small, my grandmother mused with an attitude other than shame that we had been among the last slave-owning families in the North, and that there were “Black Howells” to whom we weren’t related, but who had her surname because they had belonged to us on Long Island. I thought little about it until I began to discover the nameswhen I was in graduate school and fought losing battles with insomnia. The slaves were named and enumerated in estate inventories. The oral history had been correct, however embarrassing and distressing, and soon I had footnotes for it.

☞My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Daniel Howell (born 1680 at Southampton, Long Island; died April 25, 1732 at Ewing, New Jersey)[1] does not mention slaves in his will dated at Trenton, August 30, 1725. His estate inventory almost seven years later, however, gives the values of 24 swine, 50 sheep and negro man Jack about 50 years old (£20), negro woman and her child (£40).[2]

☞His son my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather David Howell (born in New Jersey, 1705; died October 24, 1775 at Ewing, New Jersey) does not mention slaves in his will dated December 17, 1774 at Trenton, Hunterdon County.[3] His widow, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother Mary Baker Howell (1707-1786) left a will dated 1782 in which she distributed her furniture and funds to her children and grandchildren, noting that her second son Joseph is to receive negro Bob.

☞My great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather George von Geissel (born September 24, 1730 in the Oberpfälz; died in Greenwich Township, Warren County, New Jersey March 13, 1808) immigrated in 1755 and was naturalized with an oath of allegiance to King George II on August 20, 1755. In a January 1, 1802 codicil George specifies that he wishes to have tombstones made for himself and for his wife, after her decease. He also settles the disposition of a silver tankard, and gives Negro, Pompey, his choice of going with any one of my family.[4]

☞My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great uncle John Hart (born 1713 in Stonington, Connecticut, died May 11, 1779 in Hopewell, New Jersey) signed the Declaration of Independence and owned four slaves whose names we do not know. He had died destitute and widowed on a farm ruined by the British during the Battle of Monmouth, and he left no will or estate inventory I have been able to find. His brother Daniel Hart, also my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great uncle, was killed along with his son by his own slave Cuff on October 12, 1767. Cuff, also called Coffee, was of course Kofi in his homeland, as in Kofi Annan, and we know at least that he came from today’s Ghana. Cuff killed both Harts with an axe and then killed himself in the woods.

The colonists buried my kin in sacred ground and burned Cuff’s body in a vile attempt to mete out punishment on the dead—no doubt also to make an example of the man and his bad deed. I wonder what provoked him specifically, and whether there was a moment of understanding and repentance for my uncle before or as the axe fell. Cuff’s presence in the family oral history is powerful enough that when any one of us discovers it independently, we feel a kind of nausea and shame we eventually confide in one another with a shock of mutual recognition: oh, you’re having the dreams, too, aren’t you? It seems almost verifiable empirically at this stage that the intergenerational trauma of what was done to Kofi and what he did as a result repeat themselves for everyone who looks at the history very carefully. Two hundred and fifty years are still not enough time to titrate the mutual violence into dispassionate names, dates, and places.

One of the most baffling things for me in this research was the discovery that parents considered it meet and right to give persons to their children as gifts. I thought it initially some kind of familial attitude or kindness that Pompey could go with any one of the six Lutheran daughters of German George, but that pablum dissipated quickly. Manumission was an option all along for every one of my ancestors who owned another human being.

It was equally baffling to see that one of the Germans owned a slave—the great majority of such countrymen having come to the New World as indentured servants who could not have afforded to purchase someone, and many of them belonging to religious sects that would have opposed slavery on principle even then.

Ten slaves, four men with names: Jack, Bob, Pompey, and Cuff; a woman and child with no names but a precise value in pounds sterling; four other children of God with no gender or names assigned in the historical record.

Once I knew the names, they began to haunt both my dreams and my waking hours. Anonymous people from the distant past are easy to overlook in one’s moral inventory however deep the dive may be. Names make the brutality of what was done to them personal and harder to ignore.

Being myself, it first became my duty to find out when and where they had died so that I could visit and pray at their graves. The hydra of my naïveté had one up on me here: because they lived and died in a young America where they were considered chattel rather than persons, the only records of their lives were what I already had in the estate documents of their owners. They did not appear in censuses, even the slave censuses New Jersey conducted some decades after they would have crossed muddy Jordan rather than the Delaware or the Lehigh.

Still being myself, it occurred to me to write to the churches where my progenitors were buried, to ask if there were a section of adjoining cemeteries where slaves would have been interred. If so, I asked, still being naïf, could I help to place grave-markers in the general vicinity of their burials? Again, nothing doing. The only monuments to their memory will be in the mental architecture of my heart for as long as I am able to speak about them in atonement and sad recognition.

Yet there is an ancient and pious practice of reading the entire Psalter from start to finish after someone beloved to the mourner dies—all 150 psalms on no set schedule, but with the deliberate intention of conforming one’s own heart to the mind of Christ by using words that are mirrors for every human emotion, and that lift every human emotion Godward. It isn’t precisely praying for the dead, but it is something I keep close on my chest and undertake with utter seriousness whenever I learn of a family member, however distant, dying.

And so Jack, Bob, Pompey, Cuff and their six unknown fellow-sufferers have each now had all of the Songs of David recited for them. I do not doubt that all of them—including Kofi—are gathered to the bosom of Abraham where they sleep the sleep of peace and there is neither sorrow nor sighing, where the tears are wiped from eyes that shall not weep again. Did they need it? No. Did I need to do it? Yes. But was it virtue-signalling to God or to myself, or to the friends with whom I have shared about it? Probably.

I broke each time in the very homestretch at Number 137, Super flumina Babylonis:

BY the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, * when we remembered thee, O Zion.

As for our harps, we hanged them up * upon the trees that are therein.

For they that led us away captive, required of us then a song, and melody in our heaviness: * Sing us one of the songs of Sion.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song * in a strange land?

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, * let my right hand forget her cunning.

If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; * yea, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Remember the children of Edom, O Lord, in the day of Jerusalem; * how they said, Down with it, down with it, even to the ground.

O daughter of Babylon, wasted with misery; * yea, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Blessed shall he be that taketh thy children, * and throweth them against the stones.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; * as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

And what was any of this other than the most dramatic and religious of bandages for the tender conscience of a liberal traditionalist? It isn’t much more than that because it can’t be much more than that. In this case, there is no possibility of repair even in the religion that defines itself as a system in which irreparability is an illusion.

It pricks my heart when I reflect on my own paths in life in view of this uncomfortable genealogy. From infancy, I had been infused with the intangible gifts of memory, reason, and will as well as faith and hope; but none of them would have been allowed to flourish as they sometimes have without the privilege that came from the color of my skin, my sex, my social locations, and the various circumstances of immense encouragement with which I was raised. So, too, none of this privilege would have been expressed in the way it has been without the stolen lives of the men and women who labored without pay for the support of those whose arms held the hands that held the hands that held me. I have worked hard for what things I have attained in life, but even that hard work was possible only because of an ancient lie called slavery. If I am not obligated to complete the work of reparation, neither am I permitted to rest from it.

A Sunday School teacher told me when I was 15 or 16, “Richard, you have an over-developed sense of guilt. Most things aren’t your fault.” I asked Mr. Haynes what he meant, and he gave me a Sphinx’s reply to the effect that I would understand some day. I think I do now, but he spoke as someone for whom emotional labor didn’t likely come as it does to me.

In the middle of life, I have more African and West Indian friends than African American friends. Some of the happiest times of early adulthood for me—before I had children and they multiplied every happiness—were worshiping for two too-short years at St. Andrew’s Church in Stamford, where my White Bahamian wife and I were some of the only Caucasians, and where I received the gift of tears after most communions because the congregation looked like heaven. “This is the very house of God and gate of heaven” printed itself on my mind as I knelt next to people who do not look like I do, and whose people came from places different to my people. But I do little to dismantle systemic racism and inequality in my immediate proximity, and I am sure there are aspects of my thinking and behavior that still perpetuate it.

It wonders me today that my daughters have no concept of race or skin color. They are the products of a combined twelve years of Quaker education, and the only social divisions they understand as significant are differences of language. They have been taught that every person they meet is a Friend: “Who is that friend over there?” they will ask about someone they haven’t met. “Why does that friend look sad?” “Why are there so many friends at the park today?”

This was initially a cause for self-congratulation: aren’t I a wonderful parent for bringing these girls up to be blind to visual racism? But it has since become a reason for self-reproach: these two little girls must be aware in age-appropriate ways of realities in American society that still need to change, and from which they and their parents have benefitted. Training their little hearts in wisdom will mean someday, many years from now, explaining to them about Jack and Bob and Kofi and Pompey and the Six Lost Ones: how they are inheritors of an uncomfortable truth on this wise and on many others; how (as I often think to myself) it is entirely possible that our ancient family did horrible things to the ancient families of people we meet by chance or choice each and every day.

They don’t need to understand the geopolitical complexity of any of this, but it bears saying that even in the progressive northeast Boswash corridor, there are neighbors with age-old enmity toward one another no different essentially from the relations between Hutu and Tutsi neighbors, German and Polish neighbors, Korean and Japanese neighbors, Israeli and Palestinian neighbors, Russian and Ukrainian neighbors, Tamil and Sinhalese neighbors, Tibetan and Chinese neighbors. When we have wronged one another, in whichever direction the wrong goes, new duties of acknowledgement and effortful understanding emerge when the reasons for the wrong are rooted mainly in the curious category of race.

In the meantime, one of the places where we must live is always going to be De profundis:

OUT of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord; * Lord, hear my voice.

O let thine ears consider well * the voice of my complaint.

If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, * O Lord, who may abide it?

For there is mercy with thee; * therefore shalt thou be feared.

I look for the Lord; my soul doth wait for him; * in his word is my trust.

Let them be even as the grass growing upon the house-tops: which withereth afore it be plucked up;

My soul fleeth unto the Lord before the morning watch; * I say, before the morning watch.

O Israel, trust in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, * and with him is plenteous redemption.

And he shall redeem Israel * from all his sins.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; * as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

[1] David Faris, editor, Emma Howell Ross, Descendants of Edward Howell (1584-1655) of Westbury Manor, Marsh Gibbon, Buckinghamshire, and Southampton, Long Island, New York (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1985) second edition, p. 109-110.

[2] New Jersey State Archives. New Jersey, Published Archives Series, First Series. Trenton, New Jersey: John L Murphy Publishing Company, Vol. XXX., p. 248.

[3] A. Van Doren Honeyman, Documents Relating to the Colonial and Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey, First Series, Vol. XXXIV. (Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Vol. V—1771-1780), (Trenton: MacCrellish and Quigley, 1931) p. 258.

[4] Elmer T. Hutchinson, Documents Relating to the Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey (First Series, Vol. XL), Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Etc., Vol. XI—1806-1809), (Trenton: MacCrellish and Quigley, 1947), p. 137.

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Sister Mary Veronica CSM (1874-1965)

Sister Mary Veronica of the Community of St. Mary
Born 20 July 1874 Ella Sarah McCullough in North Bennington, Vermont
Professed 25 April 1906 at Peekskill, New York
Died 23 December 1965 at Peekskill, New York

Sister Mary Veronica, C.S.M.

FullSizeRenderSister Mary Veronica died December 23rd in the 92nd year of her age and the 60s of her Religious profession. She remember living in the old Peekskill Convent—now St. Michael’s House where the Altar Bread is made—and as junior Postulant lead the Community procession into the new Convent at its Dedication in 1903. Sister was our last living link with Dr. Dix, and came to the Community from Trinity Church in New York City as his beloved spiritual daughter. One of his letters to her, written a few days after her clothing as a Novice in 1904, describes his joy at giving her the habit with his own hands in his last official visit to the Convent.
She was Professed on St. Mark’s Day, 1906, and almost immediately began working on the mural and reredos of St. Scholastica’s Chapel on the second floor of the Convent. With the cooperation of Sister Mary Angela, who did the letter on the walls and around the windows, the project was completed in 1910. From that time Sister began to have orders from churches for painting altar reredos or even whole sanctuaries and choirs. In the Thirties she developed her own technique with a special wax crayon in portraiture and received many orders for portraits, which she continued to execute until failing sight and strength forced her to give up all painting in her 89th year.
We cannot attempt any kind of evaluation of Sister’s art. She certainly had great technical ability; but we think of her paintings chiefly as expressions of the beauty and order of her own strong spiritual life. Her talent was used only for the glory of God and the good of souls, and was developed under holy obedience. During her ten-year term as Mother Superior General she put aside all painting so that she might concentrate on her official responsibilities. The time came for these burdens to be taken by another, and Sister Mary Veronica returned to work quietly and diligently in the studio for thirty-five more years. When the Mother thought that standing at the easel was too much for Sister’s strength, Sister was happy to work in another studio organizing the files and orders for the illuminations and cards painted by another sister. Like all her work, this was accomplished with enthusiastic precision.
It is, however, Sister Mary Veronica in her personal relationships that we love to recall: her child-like wonder combined with an alert sense of humor and a careful following of current events on all levels—local, national and international; her patience and the rueful little smile called forth by the frustrations of increasing deafness and illness; but, above all, her loving and prayerful interest in everyone she met or heard of,—and she never stopped praying for anyone.
Many of us were struck by the Divine ordering of all things so that Sister Mary Veronica’s death so near Christmas made it necessary to have her funeral service in St. Scholastica’s Chapel—the Convent chapel which she had beautified so long ago and where she prayed daily for almost sixty years.
St. Mary’s Messenger, March/April 1966.

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Mammana/Mammano 1.0

¶ Research notes-in-progress by Richard J. Mammana, Jr.

Most Mammanas (first records 1753) and Mammanos (first records 1803) in the United States come from the following small villages and towns in central and northern Sicily:

Screen Shot 2020-01-28 at 5.12.17 PMProvince of Caltanissetta
San Cataldo

Province of Enna
Gagliano Castelferrato
Valguarnera Caropepe

Province of Messina
Castel di Lucio or Castellucio

Province of Palermo

The spelling Mammana is used presently in 136 Italian comuni, with Mammano used in 71 comuni (source There are about 300 living Mammanas and 300 living Mammanos in the United States today, as well as large family groups in the Italian diaspora in Brazil and Argentina, with smaller groups in the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Easton, Pennsylvania Group 1
From Castel di Lucio, descendants of Antonino Mammana and Margarita Giordano through their son Placido (1775—30 June 1845). In this group, Domenico Luigi Mammana (20 January 1873—15 Feb 1971) came to the United States in 1901. His brothers Francesco (born 28 September 1878) and Michelangelo Celestino Mammana (5 June 1893) followed through Ellis Island in 1907, but nothing is known of them after their arrival. Most persons in this group are historically Roman Catholic or Lutheran, and some have been members of the Circolo San Placido. Most generations in this group include a son named Placido, Placid, or Patrick in honor of St. Placidus, patron saint of Castel di Lucio.
Variant spellings in this group include:
Mamana (descendants of Joseph, 4 September 1909—21 August 2004)
Mann (descendants of Anthony Joseph, 16 November 1918—25 March 1992)

Easton, Pennsylvania, Group 2
From Castel di Lucio, descendants of Rocco Mammana and Francesca Cicero through their son Placido (1791—27 August 1871). In this group, Luigi Mammana (born 15 December 1860, death date unknown) came to the United States in 1906 and settled in Williams Township, outside of Easton in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This group intermarried with other Italian Americans, especially Amatos, Berrettas, and Vigilantis. Census records for this group occasionally use the spelling Mamanna, and several generations have been affiliated with Lutheran and Presbyterian churches, as well as the Roman Catholic Church. As in Group 1, the boys’ name Placido, Placid, or Patrick is common in most generations, as is membership in the Circolo San Placido.

Agira—New Jersey Group
From central Sicily and Agira in the Province of Enna, descendants of Giuseppe Mammana and Marianna Punzina through their son Orazio (18 October 1891—28 October 1941, immigration 1909). Most parts of this family use the spelling Mammano. Repeated names for boys are Orazio (Horace), Vito (Victor), Philip, and Joseph; the girls’ name Carmela is also used regularly.

Rochester Group 1
From Valledolmo, descendants of Arcangelo Mammana (born 1799) and Saveria Antinella (born 1803) through Archangelo (20 June 1869—20 April 1942) who arrived in the United States in 1884. This group settled in Monroe County (Rochester), Chautauqua County (Fredonia), and Erie County (Buffalo) in New York. Almost all members of this group are Roman Catholics, and the surname is almost always spelled Mammana without variation. One member of this line changed his last name to Manning at an unknown date in the 1950s. The Giambrone family, also from Valledolmo (surname sometimes changed to Brown) is closely connected.

Rochester Group 2
From towns in Caltanissetta and Enna, descendants of Carmelo Mammano and Filomena Tuttobene through their sons Giuseppe (1880-1942), Frank Michael (1883-1941), and Ignazio (2 August 1885—10 April 1956). The surname is spelled Mammano, Mommano, and, after the first generation born in the United States, Momano. Most members of this group are Roman Catholics.

Rochester Group 3
One of the largest identifiable surname-islands of Mammanas and Mammanos, descendants of Salvatore Mammano and Maria Miccichè of Caltanissetta through three sons:
Vito (1840—13 December 1914). His son Salvatore immigrated in 1902 and was a prominent building contractor in the Rochester area. Several lines of this group re-use the given names Vito (Victor), Salvatore (Sam), and Liborio or Liboria (Betty).
Michele (1847—23 May 1895)
Christofaro (1852—23 December 1882)
The only surname spelling variations are Mammano and Manning, the latter possibly entering usage because of the 1920 murder trial of Christopher Mammano.

Erie Group
A small group (seven siblings) using the spelling Mammana settled in Erie, Pennsylvania, arriving in 1903 from Caltanissetta and Messina.

Villarosa Group
Descendants of Niccolò Mammana and Carmella Graziano (died 7 August 1933) through sons Michael Prospero (1894-1958, immigration 1911), Salvatore (1899-1945, immigration 1923), and Benedict Ernest (1902-1984, immigration 1920). This group settled first in metropolitan New York and migrated to Tucson, Arizona, with substantial variation in surname spellings and religious affiliations. The given names Benedict/Benjamin, Nicholas, and Vito repeat; surname spellings are Mammana, Manners, and Marin.

Chicago Group
Descendants of Vincenzo Mammana (born 1840) and Teresa Buzzone (born 1845) from Centuripe, Regalbuto, and Valguarnera Caropepe in Enna Province.  This group are Roman Catholics, with either Mammana or Mammano spelling.

Mammanos from San Cataldo
A line from San Cataldo in Caltanissetta came to the United States in 1913 through Giuseppe Alfredo Mammano (5 February 1892—29 July 1978), settling in New York and New Jersey. In-law surnames for this group are Alù, Andaloro, Bruno, Giambra, Macaluso, Marino, Palermo, and Scifo.

Staten Island Mammanas
Descendants of Francesco Mammana (1864—12 December 1943) and Santa Santucci (25 December 1867—14 April 1952) through Gaetano Carlo (Thomas Charles) Mammana. There are 30 names in this grouping, but it has not yet been possible to determine from where in Italy they came.

Regalbuto—Bronx and Connecticut Group
Descendants of Carlo Antonio Mammana and Carmela Bonanno. There are about 60 names in this grouping from Enna Province who settled in metropolitan New York, with some individuals now relocated to Montana. It has not yet been possible to determine when they came to the United States.

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Northampton County Carver identified

IMG_4040Jacob Motz or Moots was a German-speaking Lutheran stonecarver active between the late 1760s and the early 1780s. His surviving work is present in 37 examples in 11 churchyards in what are now Northampton County and Lehigh County in Pennsylvania, and Warren County in New Jersey. (At least two of his stones were destroyed by bulldozers on the orders of a congregational council in 1974.) Almost half of the stones are in the cemeteries of Zion Stone Church in Kreidersville and the former Christ Union in Lower Saucon, Hellertown.

Motz’s work was identified as belonging to one individual as early as 1954 by Preston Barba; he was identified by name in December of 2019 by Richard Mammana using probate settlement documentation in the Northampton County Court Archives. Before 2019, Motz was known only as the “Northampton County Carver.” The stones, some of which are in advanced states of deterioration and lichen encrustation, have the following characteristics in common:

1. The text of the epitaph is in German with idiosyncratic spelling.
2. The material is local sandstone.
3. The stone was carved between 1768 and 1782.
4. A characteristic vase with flowers features on the reverse.
5. The text on obverse has majuscule and minuscule lettering mixed within words.
6. Stylized sunbursts in corners.
7. There are occasional dates on the obverse that correspond to the date of erection or completion, not the decedent’s date of death.


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O#1: O admirabile commercium

O admirabile commercium creator generis humani animatum corpus sumens de virgine nasci dignatus est et procedens homo sine semine largitus est nobis suam deitatem.

O wonderful exchange: the creator of humankind took on a living body, merited to be born of a virgin, and, being born as a man without seed, gave us his deity.


One of the O Antiphons is suited equally to the Annunciation (the March 25 commemoration of the conception of Jesus Christ inside of his mother Mary) as to singing during the time just after Christmas. It is the first O Antiphon alphabetically in its Latin text, and so reading it at it the beginning of Advent makes a logical sense.

We have begun a season of exchanges, a kind of directional action that is common enough in our normal lives. Foreign exchange of money for other money when we travel for work or go on vacation to another country. The gift exchanges of social obligation, workplace fellowship, friendly sincerity. Exchanges of one place for another when we travel to visit family during the longue durée of the extended holiday period. And all of us reading this live in the permanent shadow of the Columbian Exchange that brought horses and bees and measles to Mexico in return for coffee, gold, slaves, chocolate, potatoes, and slaves to Europe.

O admirabile commercium is a capsule of three words that contain some of the potent truths about the incarnation as an exchange of another kind. The incarnation is the teaching that in the person of Jesus Christ the fulness of the eternal world-creating God became joined permanently, unbreakably, inexplicably, with the fulness of humanity: God exchanging incorporeality for a specific body that was born like every other human baby from a particular woman in a given place. The exchange went reciprocally but not transactionally in the other direction, too: largitus est nobis suam deitatem: “God gave us his deity.”

The Wonderful Exchange confers on every human person a permanent dignity that nothing can take away—age, actions, station, illness, immigration status, “gloomy doubts and faithless fear”—none can change God’s chosen identity with us and all whom we meet by choice or chance.

If this principle confers on each of us duties of respect and reverence toward those around us—the same respect and reverence that we would give to God—it does so along the lines Frank Weston of Zanzibar explained in a famous 1923 sermon: “if God leapt a gulf for you, I suppose that you can leap gulfs for God.”

Advent emerges then as a season of jumps: from God to us, from us to God, from me to you, and from each of us in sincerity toward anyone who differs from us.

If you’d like to listen to O admirabile commercium in music that has nourished souls before us for half a thousand years, Handl, Josquin Desprez, William Byrd, and Hans Leo Hassler are all free and brief.

For background on this Advent reflection, see Slouching toward Bethlehem in 2019.
A Pennsylvanian in Connecticut (and often other places), Richard Mammana is a father, author, reviewer, archivist, web developer and ecumenist. He is the founder of

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Slouching toward Bethlehem in 2019

O-Antiphons-adventChristian daily prayer has fixed poles in its main western expressions: the Venite (O come, let us sing unto the Lord) in the morning; the Magnificat (My soul doth magnify the Lord) and the Nunc dimittis (Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace) in the evening. All three of the canticles are unvarying parts of what the intentional Christian community says in unison every day of the year. This makes them by their very nature “monotonous” in a neutral meaning of the term. Over centuries, medieval tradition added short texts to be said before and after the fixed canticles as a way of relieving this monotony, and also amplifying the hymns’ meanings during the course of the Christian year. They are called antiphons. Not exactly decorations for the set texts that assert the Christian worshipers’ continuity with the worship of Israel and Jesus’ understood fulfillment of the Jewish messianic vision, the antiphons nevertheless give a special character to every day when they return in the Prayer Book during the year.

The most famous antiphons in European Christianity are the O Antiphons from the final days of Advent, digested and popularized in the beloved hymn O come, O come, Emmanuel:

December 16. O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 17. O Adonai (O Lord)
December 18. O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 19. O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 20. O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 21. O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
December 22. O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel)
December 23. O Virgo Virginum (O Virgin of Virgins)

It has been generally forgotten that there are an abundance of other O-beginning antiphons in local Christian traditions. Fittingly, there are 31, enough to make a full December of additions to the Venite and the Mag and Nunc.

Visit here each day in Advent and beyond to read and mark with holy scripture the mighty acts that find their expression in the mouth forming itself around a gesture of openness and wonder: O come, let us sing unto the Lord. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Beginning tomorrow, we will look in sincerity and occasional good humor at the full list of 31 (here given alphabetically, because that is how nineteenth century liturgical scholars sorted them):

1. O admirabile commercium (O wondrous exchange)
2. O Adonai (O Lord)
3. O beata Infantia (O blessed infancy)
4. O beate Thoma (O blessed Thomas)
5. O Bethlehem
6. O Bone pastor qui animam (O good shepherd who laid down thy life)
7. O Bone Pastor visite (O good shepherd, visit)
8. O Clavis David (O Key of David)
9. O coelebs pudica (O righteous bachelor)
10. O coelorum Domine (O Lord of the heavens)
11. O coelorum Rex (O king of the heavens)
12. O decus apostolicum (O ornament of the apostles)
13. O Domine fac (O Lord, make)
14. O Eloi gyrum qui contines (O hosts of Elohim who contain)
15. O Emmanuel
16. O Gabriel
17. O gloriose tactor (O glorious one who touched)
18. O Hierusalem (O Jerusalem)
19. O Oriens (O Dayspring)
20. Orietur sicut sol salvator mundi (As the sun rises like the savior of the world)
21. O Pastor Israel (O Shepherd of Israel)
22. O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
23. O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
24. O rex Israel (O King of Israel)
25. O rex pacifice (O King of Peace)
26. O Sancte Sanctorum (O holy of holies)
27. O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
28. O speculum (O Mirror)
29. O summe artifex (O Highest Architect)
30. O Thoma Didyme (O Thomas the Twin)
31. O Virgo Virginum (O Virgin of Virgins)

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A Pennsylvania German Sprachinsel near Arthur, Illinois, by H. Penzl (1938)

The settlements of the Amish and Mennonites with their numerous subdivisions have gradually spread all over the United States. Not only their religious, folkloristic and sociological aspects are important, but also their linguistic ones. Originally in all these settlements the Pennsylvania German dialect was spoken. It is now being given up in the Mennonite settlement, as I could see in Sterling, Illinois. Only the Amish Old Order still use it almost exclusively among themselves.

The Amish sect is named after its founder Jakob Amman, minister of the Swiss Mennonite Church, who thought it too liberal, especially in the matter of “shunning.” Amish people, principally from the Palatinate and Switzerland, arrived in the United States around 1730. By the time of the Revolutionary War, the immigration had ceased. Amish family names of this period are Hostetler, Peachey (Pitsche), Stutzman, Zug (Zook), Mast. No foreign addition to the American Amish settlements was made until near the middle of the 19th century. Between 1820 and 1850 Amish immigrants from Alsace-Lorraine, Bavaria, Hesse-Darmstadt arrived. Family names characteristic for this period are Naffziger, Schrock, Guengerich, Stuckl, etc. The earliest Amish congregation in the United States was established in Berks Co., Pa, along North Kill Creek in 1735.

The Amish Old Order is the sect that is most conservative, and strictest in its restraints upon the personal lives of its members. The wearing of “plain” clothes, i.e. black coats and broad-trimmed hats, hooks and eyes (“hafte”) instead of buttons, is required for the men. The wearing of simple dresses with aprons and a white “devotional covering” on their heads is required for women. No automobiles, telephones and radios must be owned. Typewriters and tractors are not forbidden though. The Amish Old order do not even worship in churches, but meet in farm-houses. Horse and buggy days are still in existence for them. Much from the pioneer era seems still to be prevalent in their way of living. I mention only their pioneer hospitality towards strangers, their independent actions in many matters, e.g. inquests without the local sheriff, the custom of “bundling” among the young people (discussed in their own church paper). It is the sincere desire of the Amish to be able to live peacefully, conforming to their religious beliefs, which also forbid them to bear arms.

Not the least important means of staying apart from the world is their use of a dialect the “world” does not understand. If it were not for this unique purpose, the dialect would be dying out among the Amish as it is among the Mennonites, and the German character of the sect and its settlements abolished within a few decades. The Pennsylvania German dialect has been spoken among the Amish for more than 200 years. Wherever an Amish settlement is in existence, it forms a linguistic unit of its own, a Sprachinsel, a language island, which is surrounded by English speaking communities. We have Amish Sprachinseln of this type in many states: in Ohio in Holmes (about a thousand families), Stark, Geauga, Madison, Defiance counties; in Delaware at Dover; in Virginia at Lynnhaven, Portsmouth, in Maryland at Oakland; in Indiana at Lagrange, Middlebury, Goshen, in Marshal, Howard, Newton, Adams, Allen, Davis, Oscoda counties; in Iowa in Buchanan and Johnson counties; in Wisconsin in Taylor Co.; in Kansas at Sumner, Anderson, Reno counties; in Oklahoma at Thomas, Weatherford, in Mayes Co.; in North Dakota at Wolford and Lumberton; in Ontario, Canada, in Perth and Waterloo counties. Some of these communities in the western states have been founded in recent years, the poorer members of the old settlements are always on the look-out for cheaper lands farther West. The United States census does not recognize the fact that a large number of native-born have a mother-tongue different from English. This makes an accurate estimate of the number of those speakers impossible. The Amish people whose native language is the Pennsylvania German dialect would belong to this group, of course.

The Amish appeared in Illinois in 1829 first near Peoria and Bloomington. Their only settlement at the present time, and so the only Pennsylvania German Sprachinsel in Illinois, is near Arthur, about 30 miles from Decatur. It covers a large stretch of territory extending into three different counties, beyond Moultrie and Douglas County even into Coles County. The Amish own there some of the best farming country that is to be found in central Illinois. For many miles their big red-painted barns, close to nice-looking white houses with high windmill-pumps, are the only view in sight. The settlement was founded in 1865 by Mose Yoder, Daniel Miller, and Daniel Otto, who came with their families from Summit Mills in Somerset County, Pa. The town of Arthur, which has a population of 1800 now and is right in the center of the Amish settlement, did not exist then. They were the first Amish settlers, who came to Arthur. Others came from Holmes County, Ohio, (e.g. Daniel Schrock and family in 1870), from Indiana, Iowa (e.g. Mose Kauffman in 1868). The place had been selected in June 1864 by Bishop Fred Beachy of Grantsville, Md., and by Mose Yoder. The settlement grew continuously, as evidenced by the increase in the number of church districts: 2 in 1888 (Moultrie County part, Douglas county part), 3 in 1902, 4 in 1906, 5 in 1922, 6 in 1926, 7 in 1930, 9 at the present time (Schlabach West, East, North, South, Plank, Schrock; Mast West, East). There is continuous intercourse between Arthur and the Amish settlements in Indiana and Ohio: exchange of preachers, visiting of friends, intermarrying. H. F. Weber’s estimate of 3000 as the number of the total population is probably too high. 2000 would seem to be more correct.

Outlanders near Arthur learn the dialect very rarely. An English farmer living among the Amish, who, incidentally, called them “the world’s best neighbors,” picked up some Pennsylvania German, and so did one drug-store clerk in Arthur. The Amish in Arthur all speak English, too: they have the rare and valuable experience of being bilingual. Their English does not show any sound-substitutions; it is not “broken.” Not even any accent is noticed by the people in Arthur. When their little children are sent to the small one-room country school-houses, they understand hardly any English. In some cases they learned a little English from older children in the family, or the parents taught them a few words, not to make it too “unhendig” (unhandy) for the teacher, as I was told. But, as a rule, the children hear nothing but Pennsylvania German in their homes, before they go to school. This is the only practicable method of making them bilingual. Any foreigner living in this country, who wants his children to be bilingual, can only get a similar result by imitating the Amish. Very few have had the energy and consistency to go through with the method.

But the linguistic situation in Arthur is even more complicated. Not only the Pennsylvania German dialect and English must be considered, but also High German. This is the language of the bibles that are used in the Amish services and of their song-books, and the language of many of their prayers. Formerly German was the language of the church as Pennsylvania German was the language of everyday conversation in all the Mennonite settlements, but it has been gradually replaced by English there. The remarkable success of the “uneducated” Amish in teaching their children the dialect and preserving it thus, is even surpassed by the significance of the fact that the Amish give their children enough instruction in High German to enable them to read and write in and to understand the Bible and song-books. As other German groups elsewhere gave up the instruction of their language entirely, in many cases they did not even try to bring it back into the public high schools, where it had been dropped because of the War. The Amish who have the reputation of being opposed to education built with their own money near Arthur three white one room schoolhouses, each for about 25 children. Some tutoring in High German is done in the four summer months, when there is a vacation in the English school. Each winter in January and February for four to six weeks, German is taught there in Pennsylvania German to those who have finished the eighth grade of the English school. The age of the pupils is usually from 16 to 20. In the winter of 1937 in two of the three school-houses school was taught. The teacher is a farmer, who is paid by the parents of his pupils. After German school is over, each pupil receives a “souvenir” instead of a diploma or grade record. The pupils can read the German Bible now, and write in German script. They can follow an Amish service without difficulty.

Every Amish service, which lasts at least four hours, starts with the old “Lobgesang,” a hymn of praise. Then there is praying, preaching, and more singing. The text of the Bible is read in High German, often with a distinctly dialectal pronunciation. One of the preachers criticized in conversation another’s pronunciation. I heard myself ihnen read as “ihne,” Machen as “mache.” Herr as “Harr,” Vater as “Vatter” (with a very short a), etc. Afterwards in the sermon, the Bible text is explained in the native dialect: e.g. the answer given Judas after he had tried in vain to get rid of the money: “Du sieh du zu,” was explained. “Sell is dei Business. Sell is dei Look-out.” But the number of English loan-words in the sermon was, on the whole, very small. I did not hear more than a dozen in half an hour. The emphatic tone and the sublime subjects seem to have resulted in the avoiding of English terms that usually have more of a colloquial flabor. Many High German quotations from the Bible were used. High German was consistently used for certain religious terms. They always said heiliger Geist, for heelig would only be said of a wound, that is as good as cured; Fleisch was used as the antonym of “spirit,” Fleesch in the literal sense when the effects of the plague were described; they say Glaube, Taufe, Gemeinde, the last word emphatically instead of the more informal Gmee (church district). Some High German expressions found their way into the speech of every day life. An Amish minister asked his boy for a Wurfshaufel (which is mentioned in Matthew), but he understood only the word “Shkoop” (scoop). This shows also how certain German (dialectal or High German) expressions in the dialect are crowded out by English ones, and only used by the older generation.

High German is also the language of the first half of their church paper, “Der Herold der Wahrheit.” The editor of the German part, L. A. Miller, lives near Arthur. He is a farmer, but operates a thriving book store, in which principally bibles of all prices are sold (up to 12 dollars). It is interesting to study the High German used in “Der Herold der Wahrheit.” It shows (1) the influence of English; (2) the influence of the dialect and, (3) some archaic traits peculiar to the german of the times of Luther’s Bible translation. The punctuation is partly English, the capitalization of nouns is not very consistent. If we take two issues of the paper, the one of January 15, and the other of March 15, 1937, we find the following traces of the influence of English: loan-words and parenthetic translations, typical for a bilingual state as e.g. Pneumonia, Flu, Indigestion, Editor, Pet (in parentheses with Liebling), Neglect (Vernachlaessigung), Salvation(Seligkeit), Revival (Erquickung). Furthermore we find translations of English idioms “die Mrs. John M. Yoder ist nicht gar so gut die letzen Tagen (“is not so well;” English word order!), eine etlige Tags Reise (English syntax!) was will noch werden? (English idiom; will instead of wird), bei des Aaron Gingerich’s Leichenreden waren gehalten (waren instead of wurden), das meint Verfolgung (meint instead of bedeutet).

The influence of the dialect is shown in passages like dem Jonathan Fischer sein Buch, der Preis wissen wir nicht genau; es hat noch mehr Kranke (instead of es gibt etc.); Otto Begraebnis (instead of Friedhof, cemetery); Shnee un Dreck; von dem Saemann, wo Samen aussaete; die kleine Gemeine.

We find archaic traits in the social column: Maria, Weib von A. Schrock; elsewhere der so er lebt (archaic relative).

The dialect in the Sprachinsel shows no sign of decline. The number of speakers is identical with the total number of persons in the settlement. English is only used in their dealings with the “World.” It cannot be doubted that the Pennsylvania German dialect will continue to be spoken by the Amish as long as they adhere to their old customs and beliefs, because they realize its closeness to the language of their holy books, and they find it useful to have a language of their own that makes them also linguistically different from the “World.” The extremely conservative attitude of the Amish in every respect, is the most effective guarantee of a survival of the dialect, not only in this German Sprachinsel in central Illinois, but also in all the other settlements of the Amish Old Order.

The Morning Call (Allentown), March 12, 1938

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