On prayer and on the manner of worship.
Prayer is one of the primary obligations of the Christian, and he is reliant on it for any consideration that might stir his ambition or instill it in him, for it is just as necessary for his growth and thriving as rain is for the fields. But wherever this obligation is neglected, the Spirit of the Lord can [not] dwell.(1)
The man or the woman of each house or each family in our church is obliged to call together all those subject to them at an appropriate hour of the morning and evening each day when they collectively kneel before the Lord and offer their innermost wishes to Him in the name of Jesus.(2) In the prayer, one speaks, and at the end of the same, all answer in unison: Amen.
We do not have any characteristic forms of prayer except for the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father who art in Heaven,” etc., because everyone must ask for themselves for the things they need, and we believe that the simple, unadorned language of the heart, as guided by our needs, is more pleasing before God than all the learned eloquence of the wise of this world put together.
All members of our Church, both old and young, are invited to offer their prayers to the Lord daily both in solitude and in fellowship, and whoever neglects this duty among us is called to account for it before the authorized persons of our church.(3)
Our worship service usually begin Sunday mornings at ten o’clock.(4) It opens with prayer and song, and then an address is given to the people; it may be followed by some exhortations. Several songs are struck up after this, and thus the morning worship service is concluded at twelve o’clock.(5)
The afternoon is given to songs, exhortations, and the administration of the holy sacraments of confession, the Lord’s Supper and confirmation, as well as with the blessing of children and other activities appropriate to the circumstances.(6)
The American government is not affiliated, either directly or indirectly, with any religion. It grants tolerance and protection to all religions, but shows preferential favor to none.(7) Our governors incidentally determine and announce certain days of fasting and prayer or public thanksgiving, and the people are invited to observe them. This is not a law, however, and it is left up to the will of the people, who nevertheless always have enough respect for their legislators to agree with their wishes and announcements, just as any people should do in things that are good and useful for them.(8)
Other days are added to these from time to time by our presiding elders as circumstances warrant when, with fasting and prayer, thanks are offered to the Lord Almighty for the abundant kindness He has shown us.(9)
No work is undertaken on the first day of the week, namely Sunday. The merchants’ shops are closed on Saturday evenings and not reopened until Monday morning. Making social calls or holding social gatherings on the Sabbath day, as is the custom in Europe, is forbidden in America by popular influence.(10)
It therefore seems very strange to an American to see the Sabbath, which after all is the Lord’s day, mostly devoted to pleasure and recreation, and he sees himself compelled to count this phenomenon among those new things that he observes in foreign lands.(11)
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(1) I hate doing this, but I see no other way to make sense of this than to emend a missing “not.”
(2) This is an interesting model of a household: not parents/children, but either a man or a woman (Hyde explicitly lists both – Der Herr oder die Frau eines jeden Hauses – as the head of the household) and then all those subject to them (ihre Untergebenen). I presume this was meant to include not only children but also domestic students and minors being raised in the household, but there’s probably more to be discovered.
(3) This seems like an early example of personal accountability to an ecclesiastic leader for private behavior.
(4) None of this 9:00 AM nonsense.
(5) And two hour church in 1842!
(6). Oh. Also, “exhortations” (Exhortationen) seem to be a thing separate from a sermon, but I’m not quite sure exactly what it entails. And including confession among the sacraments doesn’t seem to have stuck around. I’m curious in what form it was administered, as Hyde puts it.
(7) It gets complicated not long after this.
(8) Hyde’s concept of democratic governance is pretty interesting.
(9) Also interesting is how Hyde’s concept of holiday is entirely free of any notion of a liturgical year or our modern canon of standard holidays. It seems to contain only national or church-wide ad-hoc proclamations of days of prayer or thanksgiving.
(10) “Forbidden by popular influence” is another interesting example of how Hyde sees society functioning. Also, “making social calls or holding social gatherings” reflects some interpretation on my part, but I think it’s an accurate reflection of the intent behind Besuche machen, oder Gesellschaften bilden.
(11) An early example of Americans looking askance at Europeans’ lackadaisical Sabbath observance.