The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America - pages 9 - 13


The openly expressed displeasure of the magistrate was not without reason. Indeed this was not the last of the affair. The following day Pastor Stephan delivered a very stern disciplinary address concerning the unpardonable inclination towards worldly existence, which brought about the events of the night before. A harshness was evident in all the speeches delivered by the pastor during the voyage, which had not been present to such a degree in earlier times and which never before had been directed against the poorer classes. — "You are no longer worthy of my leadership to the promised land," was the major theme which permeated all the talks he held on the voyage.

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That evening there was no disturbance and with true devotion what was forgotten the day before was remembered. The community seriously considered the significance of the first advent, the danger they faced on the open sea, the uncertain fate of all and the prayer of thanks to the Lord of earth and sea who had led them thusfar. With fervor a song resounded throughout the ship:

         Rejoice, wayfaring Christians
         We celebrate a new church year
         Sent to us upon the waves
         From Our Lord and Savior most dear.
         Hosanna in excelsus
         Let us sing in chorus.

         Let us match the ocean waves
         With heads held high and voices raised



         We pay homage to our God,
         And clearly sing our songs of praise,
         In our hearts may He reside
         As Our Lord may He preside.

         Come Lord Jesus, come within
         Our small ship stands open to Thee,
         Teach us love, faith and hope
         Bestow Your grace on us at sea,
         Guide us and be our helmsman
         On our journey to Canaan.

         Come, mighty miracle man
         Whom the winds and the waves obey
         Sails will fill at your command
         Gliding us in safety away,
         Think not on our sinful deeds,
         Which deserve storms on the seas.

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On December 4th a favorable wind filled the sails of the Olbers and the ship arrived on that day at the Bay of Biscay in the mighty Atlantic Ocean. The sailors had filled barrels with drinking water and stored them on the lowest deck. When someone needed fresh water, everyone in steerage had to move the trunks and chests to the side. This caused quite a bit of trouble for the passengers. — On Wednesday the 5th as the wind completely died down Pastor Walther conducted the Advent devotions. Prayers and songs followed in the evening. Just about every day continued in this way. At some times people used the old Chemnitz and Breslau song books. Other times the Songs of Exultation were chosen.


On a few special occasions Pastor Walther composed a few verses. Since there weren't enough books the ministers read the lines to the congregations. When the weather permitted, church services were held on deck and the setting was certainly not inappropriate for the pious activity taking place. No objects were in view which might draw the attention of those assembled, however one would not be wrong in assuming that many prayers and songs eventually took on a form of perfunctory emptiness as so often is the case for hypocrites and actors wearing masks of piety.

On Sunday, December 9th Pastor Stephan held church service for the first time on the deck. His sermon was quite reproachful. He stated how bitterly disappointed he was in the character of his flock, how the majority of them were no longer worthy of his protection and he would withdraw it from them, how they had shown themselves to be of little courage and full of despair while he had borne and suffered so much on their behalf and had sacrificed everythings for them, etc. He vehemently warned them to do better and as he did so tears of pain ran down the cheeks of this pious man, leading people to believe that he was a martyr for his faith. Those tears, which always seemed to be in ready supply, did not fail in their appointed purpose of eliciting sorrow from the soft hearts of the congregation as they headed back to their berths.


However in many smarter heads a spark of distrust in Stephans behavior might have erupted and caused these people to pay closer attention. There is no record here of any thoughs to propagate and advance suspicion.

This Sunday was distinguished by wonderous weather and warm temperatures such as on a summer day. In the afternoon a keg of beer, brought on board for Pastor Stephan in Bremen, was divided up among the inhabitants of the lower deck. The beer had turned a bit sour and as they said, it wasn't fit for the pampered stomach of a pastor. But for these passengers it was a welcome relief since the drinking water had started to go bad.

The ministerial candidates daily alternated in providing school instruction for the children.

On December 13th in the afternoon a storm erupted. During that morning the winds had died down. A favorable wind then arose and the Olbers traversed a stretch of 10 ½ German miles in the course of one ship's watch (4 hours.)

On Sunday, December 16th church service was held on the deck by Pastor Walther. He had scarcely begun the sermon on the theme "Why have we emigrated?" when a sudden downpour interrupted his address. Everyone hurried back


to the lower deck and the rest of the sermon was followed by evening prayers. However on that same evening Pastor Stephan gave a reproachful address at the cabin door and complained of his disappointment even though the group had in no way deserved his reproach. For the most part the true shepherd was seldom among his flock. He rarely left his cabin and his familiar surroundings. His reasons for this may have been his well-known love of comfort and his lofty arrogance, which he imposed on the poorer of his followers. Only on December 18th, a beautiful day, did he go on deck and allow the captain to show him the finer points of the ship. The inhabitants of the lower deck had also come on deck, if for no other reason to catch a glimpse of His Eminence. All stepped to the side and he cut right through them, followed by this general staff and greeting the rows of followers.

On Wednesday, December 19th the two year old son of Miller Zeibig died of a tooth infection. The remains of the child, so prematurely dead, were buried at sea that evening. The funeral ceremony was conducted by Pastor Walther.

On Friday, December 21st the ministerial candidates had been commissioned to deliver a reproachful address that in the morning time was being frittered away in various tasks rather than communal prayer. Specifically some were trying to edify themselves in accordance with their natures since there was no


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Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks