The Hall – the Moravian church

The Hall – the Moravian church. Photo: Ole Akhøj

The very heart of Christiansfeld – both in a physical and spiritual sense – is the Church Square. Here, the Moravian church is situated. It was inaugurated on 13 August 1777. The Moravian church is also referred to as the Hall. It is the largest church room in Denmark without supporting columns and holds a space for approximately 1,000 persons. The interior of the church has been highly influenced by the Moravian view of humanity.

Before the Hall was erected, the upper floor of the first house in town, Lindegade 12, which was built in 1773, served as the church room. Here, the church had a capacity of about 100 persons, and thus it very soon became too small. Therefore, the community decided to build a new church.

Originally, the women (the Sisters) used the entrance towards Nørregade, while the men (the Brothers) used the entrance towards Lindegade.

The Hall. Photo: Christiansfeld Centret

The interior of the church

The interior of the Hall is exceptionally simple and frugal and white has been chosen as the predominant colour. The Hall is the largest church room in Denmark without supporting columns. The floor is kept in the exact same level as the ground on the church square outside in order to symbolize that the church and the earthly life outside it are of equal importance and value. To the Moravians the whole life is a service. It includes both the service in the church and the everyday life, the work life and the community with other people. The interior of the church bears witness of this conviction since it makes no attempt to rise above the ordinary earthly life.

The first thing that calls for attention when entering the church room is its interior. Contrary to all other churches, all the white benches are arranged transversely. In the middle of the long side of the church, there is no altar, but a simple table, a so-called liturgy table.

The interior of the Hall is very simple and frugal. There is no decoration, which may act as a distraction from the silence and the devotion to the preaching of the Word of God. This corresponds to the Moravian life doctrine: "The earthly is only on loan while being held responsible by Heaven". That is why decoration is thought to be unnecessary.

Many people wonder why sand has been spread all over the church floor. The sand on the floor is an old tradition, which was closely linked to the regular cleaning procedures. The sand was spread out either before sweeping the floor in order to bind and collect the dirt or afterwards to give a nice look. In the latter case, fine, light sprinkling sand from the beach was preferred. The use of sand ceased when wooden floors were treated with paint, varnish or lacquer in the late 19th century, but in Christiansfeld the tradition was kept up.

The organ from 1865. Photo: Eva Kristensen
The liturgy table in the Hall. Photo: Eva Kristensen

The architecture of the church

The house fronts of the Hall are stretching all the way along the western side of the church square. They consist of a middle section, which is concluded with a house end motif on either side of the building. All the house fronts have been built with yellow bricks and without a base. A special feature of the house fronts of the church building are the shadow joints on all four sides of the building from the ground to the cornice. The shadow joints are markedly recessed joints in the masonry, which divide the masonry into fields. The use of shadow joints creates the impression of a light and upwards oriented house front.

In the middle section, there are five tall windows, which are concluded with an upper segment arc. These windows indicate the location of the church hall inside the building. This indication is emphasized by the less elegant windows of the two side wings. Furthermore, these windows are placed in a way that indicates that in these sections, the building has several floors on the inside.

The church is the only Moravian building, which has a roof covered with black glazed tiles. The fix point of the middle section is the ridge turret with the well-known star on top of it.

Facts:

• The Hall is the largest church room in Denmark without supporting columns.

• In 1917, during the First World War, the Moravians had to hand over one of the bells of the Hall to the German authorities. It was supposed to be remelted and turned into cannon balls. Luckily, that did not happen and in 1919, the bell was returned.

• Both during the war in 1864 and during the Three-year War, the church served as a first-aid station for wounded soldiers from both sides.

• Originally, the Sisters used the northern entrance (towards Nørregade), while the Brothers used the southern entrance (towards Lindegade).

• Until the beginning of the 20th century, the members of the congregation were also seated according to the gender division inside the church – men and women being seated on either side.

• The church is open and everyone is welcome to join the religious ceremonies.


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