Some time ago, we welcomed Toby and Johanna, longtime members of the Bruderhof community, into our home for a short stay. Their living witness to discipleship was very evident in their demeanor, appearance, and their testimony. We listened as they told us stories of the way of life of the faithful members of the Bruderhof community and were inspired.
Two years after Toby and Johann’s visit, we were finally able to visit one of the twenty two Bruderhof communities: Spring Valley Bruderhof Community. Tiffany, Jemima, and I set out for Farmington, PA on Tuesday and were able to stay until Saturday. When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by our host families who helped us carry our luggage through the snow to our guest lodging. After settling in and enjoying a snack supper and fellowship with our host family, we attended our first communal meeting.
It was at the communal meeting where I experienced one of two most memorable moments at the Bruderhof: singing. Singing is a practice of faith for the Bruderhof community. Every meal and community meeting begins and ends with singing. The community has several song books out of which they sing. Most songs, are sung by heart; no need for a song book. There are a variety of song topics: nature, seasons, folk songs, and Christian hymns. I was surprised that the community chose to such a variety. I’d expected to sing Christian hymns, but did not expect so many other tunes.
I asked a community member, “Why all the singing?” She explained that singing is one way that the Bruderhof may express their joy communally. The creative practice of music making is a communal practice of celebration and joy.
Here’s an example of the music making you might experience at The Bruderhof:
Lucky for you, the Bruderhof has their own publishing company, Plough publishing. They have done a tremendous job of recording their history and beliefs in print and also on video. I am currently reading the biography of Bruderhof member, Homage to a Broken Man and find it to be quite interesting thus far. You may be interested in learning more about the Bruderhof community. They welcome inquiries and visits.