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Being as certain men in the congregation have natural musical talent, they come to learn the melodies over the years and may emerge as one of the song leaders or "vorsingers." When a hymn is sung, one of these men will lead it, and he begins singing each line.
Everyone joins in with the second syllable and finishes the line.
Leading a right life in the eyes of the Lord, resurrection, and the idea of "judge not that ye be not judged" are some common themes. After the main sermon, the other ministers usually make short statements that add to or emphasize what has been heard.
There is about another half hour of prayer and singing.
There are more comfortable chairs for some of the older members and the ministers. (We will devote our second article in this series to the music at church services.) There are usually three to seven preachers and bishops at a service.
These men retire to a room during the singing to decide who will be preaching the two sermons that day. Since people may be seated in different rooms, the ministers may move about somewhat as they preach.
In this series, we look at these customs as they are observed among the Lancaster County Amish. The geographic area where the Amish live is divided into church districts for this purpose.
Well over 400 years old, the AUSBUND is one of the most famous and important books to the Amish.
For the Amish, and others of the Anabaptist tradition, the act of joining the church through baptism has great importance.
Over 400 years ago, their ancestors in Europe were often tortured and killed because of their belief in adult baptism.
Some ministers present their message in a sort of chanting, sing-song manner, in the Pennsylvania German dialect, with Scriptures in High German.
It is not unusual for much emotion to be shown, and tears are not uncommon. As in any church, different preachers have different styles. Scriptures are read and they kneel for silent prayer prior to the main sermon. Ministers often quote a passage from Scripture and then talk about it. It is quite amazing that these "untrained" clergy can deliver such powerful, emotional messages to their congregations.The core of the hymnbook consists of about 50 hymns written mostly by 16th century German Anabaptists, many imprisoned in castle dungeons for their religious beliefs..These forefathers of the Amish and Mennonites, Anabaptists ("re-baptizers") were so named because they practiced adult rather than infant baptism.We wander in the forests dark, With dogs upon our track; And like the captive, silent lamb Men bring us, prisoners, back.