August Gottlieb Spangenberg, 1704-1792

Julian's Account:

August Gottlieb Spangenberg, son of Georg Spangenberg, Lutheran pastor at Klettenberg, near Nordhausen, was born at Klettenberg, July 15th. 1704. He entered the university of Jena in 1722, as a student of law, but soon abandoned law for the study of theology. He lived in the house of Professor Buddeus, graduated M.A. in 1726, and for some time lectured there. In Sept. 1732, he went to Halle as adjunct of the Theological faculty and superintendent of the Orphanage Schools. Here he associated himself with the Separatists, and by an edict from Berlin was deprived of his offices and, on April 8th. 1733 was expelled from Halle. He at once proceeded to Herrnhut, and was received into the Moravian Community, with which he had become acquainted as early as 1727. In 1735 he accompanied the Moravian colony which settled in Georgia and served also in Pennsylvania and in the island of St.Thomas. He returned to Germany in 1739 and was for some time at Marienborn in Hesse. In Sept. 1741, he was present at an important Moravian conference in London, and was there appointed a member of the Unity's Direction, and also director of their financial affairs. While in England he founded in 1742, the first English Moravian settlement at Smith House in Yorkshire. He was then, on June 15th. 1744, consecrated at Herrenbaag as Moravian bishop for North America, and from that time until 1762 was for the most part, in America, working principally in Pennsylvania, and among the Indians, and paying two visits to Europe. In 1762, he became the senior member of the Unity's direction as successor to Zinzendorf, and thereafter resided for the most part either at Herrnhut or at Barby. The last years of his life were spent at Berthersdorf near Herrnhut, where he resigned his offices in Sept. 1791 and died Sept. 18th. 1792.

Spangenberg was an earnest and able man, was much beloved and respected, and was entrusted by the Moravian Brethren with many important missions, being e.g. the principal agent in the negotiations between the Moravian and the British Government. He did good service both in consolidating the Moravian organisation and by untiring labours in America.

His autobiography appeared in 1784. He wrote an "Exposition of Christian Doctrine as Taught in the Protestant Church of the United Brethren, Etc. London, 1784". It is accepted as an authorised exposition of Moravian theology. He only wrote a few hymns which are of fervent but rational piety, but do not entitle him to high rank as a hymn-writer. They were mostly written before 1746.

Spangenberg took personal charge of the Moravian group that settled in Georgia in 1735 and greeted and advised John Wesley who arrived there in February 1736.

Spangenberg's hymn "We adore Thee evermore", is No. 34 in 'Spiritual Songs'. It is in all the editions from 1856 to 1978.

Hymns by August Gottlieb Spangenberg