The St. Augustine Bell Choir comprised of 16 youth and director Matthias Eichhorn from Gotha, Germany will be playing in worship and offering a concert on Sunday, July 14 at 4:00 pm. As part of their tour through Ohio, Holy Trinity will be hosting them on Saturday and Sunday nights, July 13 and 14.
The choir was founded in 1987 through the efforts of Epiphany Lutheran Church in Dayton. To make the founding possible, money was raised from Lutheran handbell choirs throughout the United States for the purchase of the gift set of Malmark handbells. Permission was requested of and granted by the East German government in order that Epiphany could transport the bells across the Iron Curtain. Matthias Eichhorn, then 8 years old, was one of the original ringers.
In the ensuing years, the choir has developed a wonderful reputation for musical excellence and was chosen by the State of Thuringia to be its representative at the World’s Fair—Hanover 2000. The congregation now has six bell choirs involving over 100 ringers.
The St. Augustine Lutheran Church was built as an Augustinian Monastery in 1331. It early allied itself with the teachings of fellow Augustinian—Martin Luther. In fact, it is documented that Martin Luther preached in the Gotha church on four occasions.
St. Augustine Lutheran has long been known for its music. One of its best-known directors of music was Johann Pachelbel, yes, that Pachelbel, the composer of Canon in D.
The congregation is best known in recent history for the lead role it played in the peaceful revolution in the fall of 1989 when Eastern Germany overthrew the Communist regime and later reunited with Western Germany to become the Germany we know today.
Gotha lies between Erfurt (where Luther was a university student, a monk and later ordained as a priest) and Eisenach (where Luther attended elementary school and was later given safe-keeping in near-by Wartburg Castle.)