Sing A New Song…
I remember looking around the table after our first issue of Leben went off to the printer three and a half years ago and asking, So, how long will it be before we run out of stories?
Since then, I have been reminded of that short-sighted comment more than once, usually when yet another wonderful story is brought to our attention. Certainly, reading our feature biography of Cécile and Felix Mendelssohn was such an occasion. While we delight in uncovering the faithful trials and triumphs of heretofore unknown people, it is especially rewarding when we can bring fresh insight to a story we all thought we knew.
Perhaps, even more well-known in American circles is hymn writer Fanny Crosby. Fanny, who was sightless her entire life, did not begin writing hymns until quite late in her life, but we thought it would be interesting to look at her family and early life to see what influences shaped the author of To God Be the Glory, and so many other universally beloved hymns. What we found was a self-described primitive Presbyterian who carried a high view of Scripture with her into later life, but who embraced life with a gusto that charmed her friends and students.
The Church in the Desert describes one of the most traumatic epochs in the history of the evangelical church, a time in which men, women and even children paid with their lives for simply believing the right things at the wrong place and time. It is remarkable that a remnant church remained in France after the scourges of religious and political intolerance held sway for so many years. What is even more remarkable is that a secularized conception of religious liberty may well have done more damage to the church than persecution. Paul Rabaut’s story is one you will not soon forget.
In the same region, but at an earlier time, Charlotte Arbaleste, wife of Phillip De Mornay, would deal not only with the vicissitudes of the broader church struggle, but become the catalyst for an internal debate within the Protestant churches of the extent to which the church may or should attempt to regulate personal liberty and behavior. It is interesting, indeed, how timeless many of these debates seem, with adherents equally as passionate in our own times as those of Charlotte’s day.
On the Cover
Cécile Mendelssohn Bartholdy neé Jeanrenaud, 1817-1853, by Edouard Magnus.
The July-September 2008 issue includes these articles:
- Felix Mendelssohn
- Charlotte Arbaleste
- Presbyterians “Surprised”
- Fanny Crosby: The Early Years
- Paul Rabaut: The Pastor of the Desert