Sunday, June 04, 2023

The Lutz Family


Note: This article was first written and published in 2006 for a collection celebrating Lititz’ 250th anniversary.

Musical dynasties are not uncommon in European history.  One thinks immediately of the Bach family in Germany and the Strausses of Vienna.  Lititz can boast of five generations of Lutz family members who were and remain active in the musical life of the community.

A butcher by trade, Benjamin Fry “Benny” Lutz was the patriarch of the assembly.  As early as 1913 he formed the Lutz Family Quintette, consisting of himself, daughter Ruth, son Benjamin, and nephew Winfield Wilson on cornet, and son John playing the baritone horn.  For several years the group played for church and community gatherings and fairs throughout the county, gaining a wide reputation for their entertainment skills.  Then tragedy struck; daughter Ruth succumbed in the great influenza pandemic of 1918, dying at the youthful age of 17.  Benny’s wife Nora never quite recovered from the loss of her only daughter, but Benny continued for decades to encourage the youth of the community in both musical and athletic endeavors.  Reconstituted as The Lutz Family Band, he and his descendants brightened lives in such venues as church picnics, Conestoga View, area fairs and farm shows, and the county jail.

As director of the Sunday School orchestra at the Lititz Moravian Church, Benny was a familiar figure to many.  He was also a prolific hymn tune composer, setting the texts of a number of different writers.  Collections of his hymns were published in Lititz in 1942 and 1943.  These booklets include “I Love Jesus” with words by Ella Buch, which bears the notation “This song was first sung in the Moravian Church, at Lititz Pa. by the infant class on Christmas 1907.”  The song “Closer to Jesus,” to a text of the Rev. H. J. Heydt of the School of the Bible in Lancaster, was included in Tabernacle Hymns No. 4, becoming the first hymn written in Lititz in more than a century to find its way into a nationally distributed hymnal.

Benny’s sons were gifted both in church music and in the more popular music of the day.  Besides being stalwart members of various vocal and brass choirs, John, Benjamin, and Robert all played the musical saw, while Henry held forth on banjo, spoons, and bones.  For a few years in mid-century Benjamin and his daughter Marian entertained on the marimba, an instrument which enjoyed great popularity at that time.

Robert, a French horn player, joined the Army Band during World War II and was sent to Japan near the very end of hostilities.  Feeling a deep concern for the people of that country, he cherished a dream of returning some day as a missionary.  Though he trained for the ministry and was ordained in the Church of the Nazarene, he was never to realize the fulfillment of that desire.  He inherited his father’s gift for hymn writing, and in the 1940s saw publication of “Crucified for Me” and “I Can Always Sing to Him,” for both of which he wrote both text and music.

The third generation continued the musical tradition of the family.  John’s daughter Nancy and Benjamin’s daughter Thelma both had lovely voices which graced church choirs and family band concerts alike.  Nancy’s younger sister Patricia is a clarinetist and pianist who also directs bell choir.  Besides daughters Thelma and Marian, mentioned already, Benjamin also had a son Benjamin who, after completing studies at Lebanon Valley College, went to New York City to try his hand at a career in show business.   The possessor of a fine tenor voice, he sang for a few years as a member of the vocal group Mello-Larks.  When the heavy touring schedule proved to have a negative impact on his family, however, he abandoned the life of the professional musician and moved to California, where he became an office manager.

In the 1950s Patricia and another cousin, Roberta, daughter of Robert, starred in an original play, written by Lititz historian Mary Huebner and titled “The Singing School.”  This local production, directed by Julia Zercher Keehn, also featured Julia’s husband George and contralto Jean Hanna Bender, a member of another Lititz family noted for their fine singing voices.

As interest in preserving and performing Moravian music of the 18th and early 19th centuries increased, Julia Keehn and Thelma Lutz Stauffer, together with Thelma’s daughter Marilyn, formed The Moramus Trio.  This ensemble was active through the 1960s and ‘70s, singing at various local churches.  Marilyn’s brother Bill Stauffer is well-known for his stirring solos at Lititz community functions, including Memorial Day services and events in Lititz Springs Park.

Representing the fifth, and thus-far youngest, generation of the Lutz family is Debra Copenhaver, daughter of Marilyn.  Like her mother before her, Deb was selected as first chair soprano in State Chorus during her senior year of high school. She then went on to study at Eastman Conservatory.  An accomplished violist as well as vocalist, she now teaches privately in the State College area, while also finding time to sing in Nightshade, a band that does music of the 1970s and ‘80s.  And just to maintain connection to her Lutz family heritage, Deb also plays the saw, a skill passed on to her by her great-great-uncle Robert on one of his last visits to Lititz.

Thus for nearly a century Lititz has benefited from the musical ministrations of members of this extraordinarily talented family.  We are certainly fortunate to be the recipients of their gifts.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

PVC 1991 Delegation – Part Twenty: Conversation with Bishop Medardo Gomez

The following notes have been edited to correct errors and to add explanations and updates. Parenthetical notes and remarks from the original are enclosed in parentheses. Present day [2022] updates are italicized and enclosed in square brackets.

Sunday, 20 October 1991 7:30 PM The Guest House

Bishop Medardo Gomez has joined our delegation for our final evening meal in El Salvador – pizza, soda, beer, and ice cream. There is laughing and joking around the table, and I wonder a bit at the ease with which we continue with ordinary conversation in the presence of this great man. Then suddenly he is addressing our gathering, and light-hearted banter turns to serious attentiveness, all eyes fixed on the head of the table. There is a scramble for notebooks and pens as we realize that what we are hearing is no longer social chatter, but rather a significant discourse, important for all of us to remember in the days and months to come.

"Even though I have seen you before, and said this before, let me say my greetings. I am glad to have you here, especially at the service this evening. As I look around, I see some familiar faces, and this is good.

"The times in which we live right now are very historical. We're at a very historic moment because the war is coming to an end and we are able to construct peace. We are very optimistic.

"In five hundred years of history, this is the first time that we have had a chance to live in real justice. We come from a long history of injustice, with this so-called 'discovery.’ For it was not a discovery. It was a pillage, an invasion, an intervention. We were rich. These people weren't always poor. It was a fact that the princes of the indigenous lived in great splendor. Indigenous people lived in a system that was social, with things held in common. They didn't know private property.

"If we could build again what was built by the indigenous, how beautiful it would be! The conquest came and destroyed all that was beautiful. It took away all the riches. They turned the indigenous into slaves, and also took away the land. Cuscatlan, which is the indigenous name for El Salvador, means land of riches. Specifically, it means land of precious stones. The people called themselves Cuscatlanos, the rich. But we aren't rich now. All the riches here went to Europe.

"For this reason there has been a great reaction among the indigenous. They have begun to write their own story. Before, it was the rich who wrote the story.

Friday, December 02, 2022

PVC 1991 Delegation – Part Nineteen: San Miguel

The following notes have been edited to correct errors and to add explanations and updates. Parenthetical notes and remarks from the original are enclosed in parentheses. Present day [2022] updates are italicized and enclosed in square brackets.

Saturday, 19 October 1991 - San Miguel

Today the ciudad group is to join the campo group out in San Miguel, spending one night with our sister community and then returning Sunday afternoon to the capital. By 7:30 AM we have the van loaded for what is predicted to be about a three hour drive. The day is clear and the scenery lovely as we make our way east around Lake Illopango. The van engine has a disconcerting habit of overheating, so we make regular stops to add water to the radiator. This requires removing the bench seat behind the driver's seat, which in turn requires emptying the front half of the van of passengers. We don't mind the opportunity to stretch and take pictures, however. One stop is at a small roadside stand, actually a private home with drinks and snacks served on the porch.

The day had been almost cool when we started out from San Salvador, but the closer we get to San Miguel, the hotter and more humid it becomes. Later we learn from the campo group that San Miguel is noted for being the hottest part of the country. Now they tell us, after we have already made the sister commitment!

It is a bit after 11:00 AM when we arrive, and we stop first at the Lutheran Church of the Divine Redeemer in downtown San Miguel. There is a Bible training session going on for lay leaders who have come from several different communities to attend, so we meet on a sheltered porch area behind the church. There is much to catch up on with the other half of our delegation. Nancy Jones, the ELCA long-termer who had led the campo group out to San Miguel via public bus on Wednesday, had stayed until Friday with them, then returned to the capital. Pastor Leslie, a Presbyterian from the U.S. who is married to a Salvadoran, had helped to coordinate their stay, and she meets with us now to tell us what is planned for the rest of the day.

Monday, November 28, 2022

PVC 1991 Delegation – Part Eighteen: Guest House and ASTAC

The following notes have been edited to correct errors and to add explanations and updates. Parenthetical notes and remarks from the original are enclosed in parentheses. Present day [2022] updates are italicized and enclosed in square brackets.

Friday, 18 October 1991 – The Guest House

We are up very early because Gary has told us that we are leaving for the lake at 10 to 7. At breakfast he informs us that he was wrong; we are not to pick up A. until 7:30 at Resurrection Church. We are there at 7:30, but no A. So we sit in the van catty-cornered across the street from the church and wait while Gary runs back and forth between the women's center and the church. By 8:15 there is still no A., and no Karl, either, so we come back to the guest house to wait while Gary tries to make some other contacts. Mary, Wanda, Betsy, and Kathy decide to walk down to the market for some spices, while Lucy and I stay at the house. Everyone is to be back by 9:30 AM.

About five after nine Kathy is at my door asking where's Gary. Our driver has come to the market to bring them back because Gary has returned. After a bit of confusion we gather in the living room for a conference. No one knows where A. is, Karl has not come into the office, and there is no one else at the Lutheran Church able to go with us out to the lake community. Besides, we have now missed the two Lutheran boats which run in the mornings, and would have to rent a boat to make the crossing.

We discuss our options for the day. Gary is uncomfortable taking us out to the lake community without someone from the church to accompany us. Mary would like to see a museum. Betsy wants to go swimming. Lucy is feeling intrusive visiting communities, and we reflect on this for a while, discussing how to show respect while walking around and taking pictures.

Celia has called while we are out, so I ask if there is a possibility of meeting with her. Gary makes a call and reports back that we can see her at 10:00 this morning. We also decide on the Exquartal Market and a high-class artist's shop in Escalon which carries hand crafts as well as the work of Fernando Llort, the artist whose establishment it is.

PVC 1991 Delegation – Part Seventeen: National DEBATE, and 22nd of April

The following notes have been edited to correct errors and to add explanations and updates. Parenthetical notes and remarks from the original are enclosed in parentheses. Present day [2022] updates are italicized and enclosed in square brackets.

Thursday, 17 October 1992 2:15 PM National Debate, and Mass at 22nd of April Parish

The afternoon schedule lists "National Debate" and I am anticipating a return visit to the spacious building where we met last year with this prime player in the move toward a negotiated end to the civil war. Much to my surprise, the van delivers us instead to a neighborhood church, where we walk quickly across the broken concrete of the courtyard and enter a low outbuilding, rather like a garage or large shed. The men inside are annoyed; they had expected us at 1:30 and were about to leave. The younger one is introduced as R., a Presbyterian representing the Presbyterian Church USA, who works for the Lutheran University. The other, of slight build and unassuming mein, turns out to be the Rev. Edgar Palacios himself, co-director of DEBATE. Now it is clear to me where we are – the offices of Shalom Baptist Church, a conclusion which I am able to confirm as we leave by a sign which had escaped my notice on the way in.

Betsy makes the introductions for our group, and I wonder if all of the first time people are aware of what a great honor it is for us to be meeting with Rev. Palacios. Then we listen intently as R. begins a description of the work of DEBATE.

"We here represent the church sector in the movement for peace. The National Debate is what we believe is a miracle of El Salvador. It brings together eighty-five organizations. The principal objective is to bring together during this time of negotiations ideas about what the different sectors of society want when the war is ended. DEBATE is a pluralistic organization, including churches, popular organizations, other religious organizations.

"The role of DEBATE has been to influence the FMLN as well as the government that here there is no more space for war. The Salvadorans want peace and democracy. We believe that the first step is to end U.S. military aid. The government will have fewer arms; then they will hear the cries of the people. With fewer arms they will have less power.

PVC 1991 Delegation – Part Sixteen: Diario Latino


The following notes have been edited to correct errors and to add explanations and updates. Parenthetical notes and remarks from the original are enclosed in parentheses. Present day [2022] updates are italicized and enclosed in square brackets.

Thursday, 17 October 1991 10:30 AM Diario Latino

We are inside a huge warehouse which serves as both offices and plant for Diario Latino, the only progressive newspaper in El Salvador. A gigantic press dominates the main floor. Partitions section off the office area, but there are no enclosed rooms. We are invited to climb a fire escape stairway to a second-level balcony, where there is additional office space, and are seated in a circle in the open space at the top of the stairway, surrounding Francisco Valencio, the director of the newspaper.

It is apparent that Wanda is in her element here, and we gladly defer to her to make the introductions and lead the discussion on behalf of our group. Señor Valencio thanks us for our visit and explains the newspaper's philosophy.

"We see our role as a newspaper to accompany our people in support of the interests that all our people share for peace and democracy. All these are things that the people have lacked because of the military governments, especially recently since the counter-insurgency.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

PVC 1991 Delegation – Part Fifteen: The Non-Governmental Human Rights Commission


The following notes have been edited to correct errors and to add explanations and updates. Parenthetical notes and remarks from the original are enclosed in parentheses. Present day [2022] updates are italicized and enclosed in square brackets.

Thursday, 17 October 1991 9:00 AM - The Non-Governmental Human Rights Commission (CDHES)

Wanda introduces our group to the staff worker for the CDHES who is acting as our host this morning. He greets us graciously and begins his narrative of the work of the commission.

"Welcome to our offices. We are glad to have you here so that you can gain a truer picture of life in our country on the basis of what you will see and hear here, as well as through your meetings with other organizations.

"This human rights commission began its work on 1 April 1978, with the establishment of four objectives:

1. To advocate for respect for the physical and moral integrity of every Salvadoran;

2. To investigate and document human rights abuses;

3. To denounce violations of human rights, both nationally and internationally, through agencies such as the United Nations; and

4. To undertake activities directed toward public education about human rights. This last goal has not been fulfilled in its entirety.

"We've had to live through the sadness of having four of our members slain and three disappeared since we were established. In 1987 fourteen members were captured and tortured by the Treasury Police. Nine of these were released and five sent to Mariona Prison. Nonetheless, we have continued forward with our work. We have won recognition both national and international. Three times we have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Humanitarian organizations assist us both morally and economically to continue the work.