have been on this mountain before.
It was the summer of 1781, during
the war of our independence. I was 23 and my brother and I had joined
the Philadelphia Militia. I was a drummer and a guard of the Hessian
prisoners held just a mile or two from here.
My name is Johannes Jacob Albrecht.
It was a lovely green place then,
as it is now, with a wonderful look out from up there, down onto where
this college is now.
I will tell you it is a great surprise
to find a place of higher learning here. It is a surprise to see so many
And the biggest surprise to find this
college has been named in my honor! Astonishing!
Albright College! My grandchildren
think I don’t know that they have
begun to call themselves Albright.
And that statue in front of
this Chapel is far too fine for the likes of me – that Jacob is
far better looking than I am.
After the battles were over, I settled
down and married my dear wife Catherine. We had six beautiful children,
and I took up the trade making clay tiles for roofing. I was content
-- until the terrible days in 1790 when we lost three of our children
to the dysentery, all at once. I thought I could not go on. Why had this
I wandered carelessly on the path
of life, and thought little of the purpose of human existence. But slowly,
God’s grace helped me to hear the voice
within and to realize remorse, and I felt the power to consecrate myself to the
good and surrender my will entirely to God’s will.
No class of Christian confessors known
to me seemed to me more lively and active in the good and whose excellent
discipline and order pleased me better than the Methodists. Therefore
I adhered especially to them. Much of their practices still remained
obscure to me because they were then conducted in English and I was not
at all well versed in it. So I applied myself diligently to learning
I was born here in the state of Pennsylvania,
but German was my first language. When the Lord called me I learned English
to share communion with the Methodists, but I knew my calling was to
preach to the German people.
As my joy in God grew, I began to
pray forcefully in the public meetings. I had no gift for speaking at
all, but I was grasped by an inspiration that unlatched my mouth so that
eloquence streamed from my lips and God’s grace worked
through my words.
But Lord, I said, I am an entirely
uneducated and incapable person! The voice of my conscience said that
God’s grace would do the rest. I have been preaching
for almost 12 years. It has not been an easy thing to do. In 1796 I set
out on the itinerant ministry. I traveled through Pennsylvania and Virginia.
I left my wife Catherine at home with our three dear children. I was
welcomed by some. Many did not like me very much. Once I was stoned and
knocked from my horse.
But others came to class, and over
time, our little congregation has grown. They call themselves Albright’s
People, and now number near 1,000.
My brethren, I am happy to see all
of you here, joined in community and working to teach and learn. Some
folk are foes of too much learning, but I say the more learning a preacher
has, the better job he is able to do. My friend John Dreisbach traveled
with me, and he was the one who urged us on the path of more education. “Teachers
and preachers should not be ignorant,” he said. He was the one
who put it forward to establish a school.
And I see what that idea has become
today. You my dear ones, you are all Albright’s
people. It is good to see you teaching and learning for the good of humankind.
May God bless you and keep you and
this Albright College. I commend you to God’s
grace on the occasion of your celebration!
– Written by
associate vice president
of college relations