Church Organ Moravian

Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Choral Studies at MU’s Tell School of Music, Dr. Jeffrey Gemmell, is also Director of Music Ministries at the Lititz Moravian Congregation in Lititz, PA, where he is the Organist and Choir Director. This position has led to abundant opportunities to explore a unique collection of early American choral music.

Dr. Gemmell returned to Millersville University in the Fall of 2013 and has concentrated his research on 18th-century early American Moravian Music, specifically repertoire and performance practice of the Lititz Congregation, which was founded in 1749. The focus of his research is pastor/composer Johannes Herbst (1732-1812), who was also an important member of the Lancaster community, participating in the opening ceremonies for Franklin and Marshall College in 1786 and a founding member of the Board of Trustees. Herbst composed over 30 choral-orchestral anthems while in residence at Lititz from 1791-1811, and this repertoire is the core of material that Dr. Gemmell for a book published 2018, “Lititz Anthems I,” Volume 3 in the series Musical Treasures from Moravian Archives (Steglein Publishing, Ann Arbor, MI). Dr. Gemmell’s next book, “Lititz Anthems II,” Volume 5 in the series, will be released in 2022. Octavo editions of this repertoire have also been published by the Moravian Music Foundation.


Aside from Herbst research, Dr. Gemmell is also the Founding Conductor and Artistic Director of the the Lititz Collegium Musicum. Launched in 2018, this professional chamber orchestra performs Dr. Gemmell’s original editions of mostly secular works discovered in the church’s Collegium Collection, which is housed in the Moravian Music Foundation Archives in Bethlehem, PA. MU’s Tell School Choirs have performed in concert with the Lititz Collegium; highlights of these performances can be found on Dr. Gemmell’s blog: This summer, Dr. Gemmell edited nine new works for the ensemble which are to be debuted in the next Collegium Musicum event scheduled for Sunday, February 27, 2022. One major work, Der 96 Psalmen by Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741-1801), will feature the Tell School Chorale.

Summer 2021 was an active time for Dr. Gemmell to complete new research projects for the Moravian Music Foundation. During the Moravian Music Festival in July, he performed in a virtual international organ recital that included organists from around the world. His video performances feature two important pipe organs found on the Lititz campus that were built by David Tannenberg (1728-1804), one of America’s first and most significant colonial-era organ builders. Of the nine existent Tannenberg organs, two are located at the Lititz church: one from 1787, built for the current sanctuary that was dedicated in that year (see photo); and the other built in 1793 for a congregation in Graceham, MD. This recital can be viewed online at For the Festival, Dr. Gemmell also submitted an instructional video, “All That Breath,” on accompanying hymns and conducting choirs from the organ console, and he was a panelist for two seminars: Conducting Church Choirs and the State of Current Moravian Music Research. He was also a featured organ soloist and reader for the final service/concert of the festival.

Dr. Gemmell is a member of the Moravian Music Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Executive Board, and Nominations and Awards Committee. He is also on the Search Committee for the new Executive Director of the Foundation.


Comments are closed.