The Moravians I speak of were a small group that established and resided in a small village named Herrnut on Count Zinzendorf's estate. They experienced a revival in 1727, and following that they did very noteworthy and significant things. Source: Wikipedia.

One of those things was establishing 24-7 prayer that went on uninterrupted for over a hundred years. Now, my question is threefold:

  1. When did it stop? Wikipedia says that it went on for over 100 years, placing the end date past 1827. However, I'm curious to know if there's a precise date recorded.

  2. How did it stop? Was it a sudden end, or did it peter out over the course of months or years?

  3. Why did it stop? Was it because people just slowly got tired of it? Perhaps they were invaded and forced out of their home, an event so disruptive they couldn't continue the continual prayer unbroken? Maybe everyone left for some reason?

I realize that proving a negative is difficult, but an acceptable answer could also be that the answers to these questions were not recorded, though of course I would like to see proper justification for claiming that.


From a Moravian website in the UK:

The industrial revolution and 1870 Education Act brought changes to the settlement' way of life and the sisters' house and schools were closed in the latter half of the 19th century. The additional buildings were then converted into dwelling houses which are managed by the Unitas Estates Company. http://www.moravian.org.uk/index.php/uk-congregations-list-for-the-moravian-church/yorkshire-district/gomersal

Its only referring to the closing of a church school connected with one congregation, but it is most likely also involved in the general downturn. After all, the inability to keep religious schools running, and their replacement by a secular school system, can very easily make a big dent in a minority denomination's numbers.

Looking up the Elementary Education Act 1870 we find on Wikipedia:

There were ongoing political clashes between the vested interests of Church, private schools and the National Education League followers. In some districts the creation of boards was delayed by local vote. In others, church leaders managed to be voted onto boards and restrict the building of board schools, or divert the school rate funds into church schools.

The vested church interests referred to there are of the Anglican church, not the Moravians. Losing their own schools and having to send their children to secular or Anglican schools, either one, would undoubtedly have been of great consequence to the denomination's future.

Although divided by an ocean, this article about Bethlehem Pennsylvania seems to tell the same basic story:

Since 1741, Bethlehem has beckoned travelers to experience the warmth and hospitality of this delightful community. In that year, a small group of Moravians settled on the banks of the Lehigh River near the Monocacy Creek.....

On Christmas Eve of that first year, 1741, the Moravians' patron, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Saxony, Germany, visited the new settlement. In their two-room log home that housed both man and beast, the Count christened the community "Bethlehem"....

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, Bethlehem became a center of heavy industry and trade....making the city a "melting pot" of cultures, blending one into the other. http://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/about/history/

And again with LITITZ, PA:

Lititz was established in 1756 by the Moravian Church as an exclusive religious community until 1855, when the town welcomed people of all religious creeds. The town played an active role in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and industrial revolution, and served as an early musical, educational, and commercial hub. http://www.moravianmanor.org/lititz.htm

Or again :

The cottage industries of the Moravian Settlement were eventually overtaken by the Industrial Revolution and members sought work and business outside the settlement. http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Hidden-past-village-founded-pioneering/story-16865225-detail/story.html#ixzz37ELK0udO

Who has time for 24/7 prayer when you've got to commute?

  • 1
    The OP is asking about the Herrnut, Germany Moravians in particular. A case in the UK and Pennsylvania, which appears to be recorded almost 50 years after the case in Herrnut, wouldn't answer the question of When/How/Why for this particular group. – Jesse Jul 13 '14 at 0:19

I learned a little bit about this in the seminary I attended, so I have a somewhat (incredibly, actually) vague idea.

When: Correct assumption that it would have stopped in 1872. There are no recorded instances of “when” it stopped, at least none I learned about or could find online. Some people, in fact, dispute whether it actually ended or not - certainly possibly some Moravians still exist today, carrying out this prayer. In fact, if you look it up a little more, some believe the movement lasted over 125 years.

How: Nobody really knows how it stopped. Assuming though, at least in the seminary where I learned about it, the death of Count Zinzendorf is often considered to be a factor to an eventual decline. The Moravian Church is still very much alive today, but not many know whether this practice is still carried out by the church as a whole or by separate members, as mentioned above.

Why: Nobody really knows why, either. Again, it’s believed Zinzendorf’s death is considered one of many factors. The coming 1800s brought the Napoleonic War, which very well could have contributed to it, as well as the French Revolution. My teacher thought, for the most part, the Unification of Germany was possibly the biggest factor.

The issue in determining a proper answer to this question is that this community at the time was very small, having 76 homes in 1777, and much of what went on there was within the community, and not publicized in many other places to our knowledge.


My forebears were Moravians and my father would always say that the prayer meeting lasted 110 years. I have not yet done any research to independently verify this.

  • Hi and welcome to the site. Please consider taking the tour and checking out our help centre to see how the site runs. – bruised reed Sep 28 '17 at 9:07
  • Without that research, and an edit to upgrade your answer, your answer likely to be closed/deleted as not meeting the standards for the site. I am hoping that you'll provide us with more, as what you've given so far intrigues me. – KorvinStarmast Sep 28 '17 at 14:05
  • 110 years would take us to 1837/8, the time of the Stephanist Emigration from Saxony. I think in Saxony, unlike Prussia, there was no forced unification of Lutheran and Calvinist, but there was some attempt to reduce number of denominations. . Stephan was minister of Dresden Bohemian Church so may have had connections with Moravians. So a) possibly the Moravians were involved in the Emigration, or b) may have been victims of the attempt to unify Protestantism., albeit less in Saxony than Prussia. I don't know that was so, but merely offer some context to 110 years after 1727. – davidlol Sep 28 '17 at 23:28

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