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John Frederick Wolle Music Manuscripts

Identifier: SC MS 0087

Scope and Contents

The arrangement of this collection is alphabetical according to title of musical score. The chronology is thought to be from approximately 1884 to 1915 for the music scores and 1956 for a program of a concert in Central Moravian Church’s Sesquicentennial Service May 20, 1956. Included in this service was J. Fred. Wolle’s hymn “He leads us on” which was composed in August of 1888 while Wolle was organist and choirmaster of the church. This hymn became his best known anthem and is included in this collection. The box contains fifteen folders.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains fourteen musical scores annotated, adapted or composed by John Frederick Wolle. The musical scores include: “Ambassadors of Christ,” “Aunt Jane’s Moon Song”, “Bonum? Est,” “Cloudland,” “Concert of Witches,” “The Daisy,” “Dies Ires,” adaptions for the Scottish folk song “The Four Maries,” “He Leads Us On,” “Long May She Live Our Lehigh Fair,” “Medley,” , (a nonsense song based on “Rock-a-bye Baby” and “Jingle Bells”), an organ transcription for “Die Meistersingers von Nuremberg,” “Palmarum” (tune applied to two known texts: “Ride On, Ride On In Majesty” and “My Heart Speaks Out on Those Who Sin”) written for the Central Moravian Church in 1888 and published in 1891 in Moravian Offices of Worship and Hymns, and “Uber den Sternen.” In most cases unless otherwise noted, the sheets of music measure 34 x 26.5 cm.


  • Creation: 1884 - 1915


Biographical / Historical

John Frederick Wolle (1863-1933) was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to a well-known Moravian musical family. As a musician, he played trombone and the organ. He was a concert organist, choral director and composer. Wolle was organist and choirmaster for the Central Moravian Church (1885-1904); organist of Lehigh University (1887-1904); pioneer in presenting the choral works of J. S. Bach in America and considered founder of the Bethlehem Bach Choir as well as a proponent of Richard Wagner’s work. He studied music in Philadelphia and Munich, Germany. From 1882-1892, Wolle conducted the Bethlehem Choral Union. It appears that the dates for these scores are from the time of 1884 to 1891. During his early years, Wolle composed or transposed a number of musical scores. Only a very few works were published. The most well-known hymn appears in the Moravian Offices of Worship and Hymns as Hymn #114 “Ride On! Ride On in Majesty” with the tune known as “Palmarum” which was written in 1888 for the Central Moravian Church. This tune was also applied to the hymn “My Heart speaks out on those who sin” appearing in the Psalter Hymnal by Gray as hymn #36. The original score of “Palmarum” is included in this collection of Wolle manuscripts as well as the original text for “Ride On! Ride On in Majesty.” A recorded version of this work appeared in 1981 on Crystal Records album played by the Moravian Trombone Choir of Downey (California). Other Wolle’s compositions also recorded appear on the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Moravian Trombone Choir albums: “Music for All Seasons: Chorales, Sonatas, Occasional Music” Crystal CD 220. From 1905- 1911, Wolle was head professor of music at University of California, Berkeley where he conducted large student choruses and was reputed to have a jovial, outgoing personality. He founded the Bethlehem Bach Choir in 1898 under the sponsorship of Bethlehem Steel Company president, Charles Schwab. Schwab enticed Wolle to return to Bethlehem with a promise of unlimited resources. In 1912, Wolle moved the Bach Festival to Lehigh campus where he was on the faculty. Ever since that time the Bach Festival is held in the Packer Memorial Church the first two weekends in May. Wolle’s sister, Helen, married Professor Charles L. Doolittle, another Lehigh faculty member. They became the parents of Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) an American poetess. Wolle married Jennie C. Stryker in 1886 they were parents of daughter, Gretchen, who donated this Wolle collection of material to Lehigh University’s Special Collections. Mr. Wolle is identified as AMG Artist #Q68354.


1 Linear Feet : [1] box; 1 linear foot

Language of Materials



An interesting collection of musical scores in J. Fred. Wolle’s own hand which exhibits Wolle’s diverse musical talent. Although, Wolle is primarily known as a serious J. S. Bach scholar and founder of the Bethlehem Bach Choir, the musical scores included in this collection display both his creative side with student chorus songs of humorous nature as well as serious hymns written for church liturgies. The collection contains an assortment of secular and sacred music and two songs that mention Lehigh University in the text.


The material in this collection is arranged alphabetical according to title of musical score.

Related Materials

Crews, C. Daniel. 1990. Moravian Composers. Moravian Book Stacks.

Larson, Paul S. 2002. American Musical Dynasty: Biography of the Wolle Family of Bethlehem, PA. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press. SC LUPL334a

Moravian Church. 1987. Moravian Offices of Worship and Hymns. CRC Publishers.

Remy, Alfred and Baker, Theodore. 1919. Baker’s biographical dictionary of musicians. 3rd ed. New York: G. Schirmer.

Spaeth, Sigmund. 1929. Who’s Who in Music. Chicago: Who Is Who In Music, Inc.

Separated Materials

[Poster] Mass in b minor by Johan Sebastian Bach: by the Bach Choir, J. Fred Wolle, conductor, Tuesday, March 27, 1900, Moravian Church, Bethlehem. SC F, L-Bayer.


The original musical manuscripts were donated by Mrs. Gretchen Wolle Baker, daughter of Dr. John Frederick Wolle on two occasions: in 1942 the Bach scores used by her father and this collection of non-Bach scores in May 1956.

John Frederick Wolle Music Manuscripts
Ilhan Citak and Eleanor Nothelfer
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)