Joseph Funk

Short Name: Joseph Funk
Full Name: Funk, Joseph, 1778-1862
Birth Year: 1778
Death Year: 1862

Joseph Funk USA 1778-1862. Born at Berks County, PA, grandson of the first Mennonite bishop in America. He lived most of his life in Rockingham County, VA. He was a farmer, a composer, publisher, and traveling singing teacher, covering hundreds of miles on horseback to teaching appointments. He married Elizabeth Rhodes, and they had five children: Jonathan, Henry, Elizabeth, Susan, and Barbara.. After her death, he married Rachel Britton in 1814, and they raised nine children: Mary, Joseph, David, Samuel. Hannah, John, Timothy, Solomon, and Benjamin. His advocacy for the use of musical instruments in church worship was in contention with the Mennonite position that musical instruments were not fit for the church. His sons also taught music and sang with instruments, a very progressive posture at the time. He collected songbooks and revised and updated hymn tunes. He invented a 4-shape-note music system in 1851 for the “Harmonia Sacra”, and later a 7-shape notation tunebook. At age 70 he established the first Mennonite printing business in America. His published works include: “A compilation of genuine church music” (1832) – later changed to “Harmonia Sacra”, “The confession of faith” (1837), “A collection of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (1847), “The reviewer reviewed” (1857), “The southern musical advocate & singer's friend” (a monthly periodical 1859-61). He died at Singers Glen, VA.

John Perry


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