Register - Marriages
One cannot but be impressed, on examining the marriage records of the Moravian Congregation of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by the number of ceremonies In which the principals figured prominently in the development of the church, either as pastors, missionaries, educators, and heads of congregational subdivisions, or, in the performance of the temporal duties requisite to the work in America during the early period of Bethlehem's history.
In the furtherance of the evangelization plan to which virtually every one in these two classes was consecrated, marriage usually played an important part, and constituted a necessary step. This was particularly true in the case of missionaries who went forth to preach the Word in distant lands.
Recourse to the lot, which will be discussed in more detail, figured prominently for many years in determining the mode of procedure in the settlement of questions of moment. It was resorted to in the choice of persons for missionary service, as well as in the selection of life partners. Courtship and romance played little part in the everyday life of the early church settlements. On the other hand, the days that followed the marriage ceremony, which we are wont to speak of as the honeymoon period, were frequently occupied in hazardous journeys, by land and sea, to none too friendly peoples in the mission fields. The diaries of the church disclose many interesting accounts of individual ceremonies solemnized at various times. The procedure in the case of a Moravian marriage held on February 2, 1762 is described by the Rev. A. L. Oerter as follows:
John Hill Martin gives the following description, attributed to Sister Sally Horsfield, of a wedding in Bethlehem in 1780: (2)
Mention should be made of a custom which prevailed in the matter of dress, alluded to in the foregoing account. In early times there were, of course, many limitations in this respect, and simplicity in colors, style, and quality of material, was the rule in all of the church settlements. The members of the congregation were divided into choirs, and to distinguish the women in their respective groups custom decreed that the ribbon, or bow, with which the cap (Schneppelhaube) was tied under the chin, be of a different color for each choir. Pink was the color worn by the single sisters, but, immediately after the marriage ceremony was concluded, this was changed to blue. In widowhood., the distinctive color was white.
1. "Historical Sketch of Graceham, Frederick County, Maryland".
- Transactions of Moravian Historical Society, Vol. 9.
[Text above is from pages vii-ix of original]