This is an adaptation of an extended article written by Doru Radu and Dan Cure of Warren, Michigan, USA. The titles “composer” and “saint”, do not go together these days. However, this is precisely what has been said about Nicolae Moldoveanu on internet, blogs, Christian radio, TV stations, ever since July 12, 2007, the date of his passing and going home in glory. On that date, 85-year-old Nicolae Moldoveanu, a Romanian Christian song and hymn writer, died in Sibiu, Romania. For more than 62 years, God enriched the faith of Romanian Christians through his music, his lyrics and especially his uncompromising Christian testimony during Romania’s darkest communist era of forty-five years.
Nicolae Moldoveanu was named “the Bach of Romania” , as he wrote more than 6,000 songs, with 361 of them written while suffering for his Christian faith in the Romanian communist prison system. Although while he was alive he rarely ventured out of his city, or even his personal residence, for that matter he was so present in the lives of at least one million Romanians.
Moldoveanu was born on February 3, 1922 to a very poor family, this man lost his father by the age of 3 and a half and his only opportunity for education involved enlisting in the military program called” Army’s Children” at the age of twelve. These destitute children lived on military bases with other soldiers, but due to his love for music, Moldoveanu was enrolled in the military brass ensemble. There the band director recognized his talents and helped him develop his musical ability. Later he would write, “I am now seeing God’s hand in everything that has happened in my life…” When he would come home in short leaves, he would accompany his mother to a newly formed church that belonged to the “The Lord’s Army”, a reformed branch of the Greek Orthodox Church that emphasised the need for repentance, being borned again and having a personal relationship with Christ.
Not long after starting to attend that church, Moldoveanu accepted the Lord as personal Savior. He fell in love with the Lord’s Army musical style and tradition, and he started to put words and music on paper and to publishing them in a publication called Village’s Light. Being musically gifted, the Lord used his talent for music to protect his life during the times of World War II, as his band was stationed far away from the front lines of war.
During the war time while young, Moldoveanu, wrote some very mature music with spiritually deep lyrics. In order to buy his first Bible, he sold for a whole month his daily rations of milk and bread. The Bible he purchased then, he used it and kept it until his death. After relatively a short time of pace and freedom after the end of World War II and until the rise of the communist dictatorship, he was able to publish hundreds of songs for the benefit of many.
In 1948, the communist regime of Romania declared the movement of Lord’s Army as illegal and arrested all its leaders. During this time, Moldoveanu continued to worship in secret and in 1959 after refusing to stop attending Christian gathering and writing of Christian songs, he was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for bogus charges of conspiring to overthrow the communist regime. Still, he continued to thank and praise the Lord and in return He was able to write the optimistic song “Clear Skies.” On the day of his arrest, just before he was taken away from his home, Moldoveanu was able to whisper to his wife Lena “look at the skies”. “It was the only thing we could share while separated” he later said. The comment proved to be prophetic, as after months spent in an underground cell of the prison, Moldoveanu was finally moved into a cell that was above ground. The new cell had a broken window, but in spite of the bitter cold, he was happy that he could share the view of the same skies with his loving wife.
While in prison, he met Traian Dorz, another prolific Romanian Christian poet from The Lord’s Army movement, and many other well known Christian brothers, including Richard Wurmbrand, the author of Tortured for Christ and the founder of Voice of the Martyrs ministry. While there in prison they became friends. Wurmbrand and Moldoveanu praised each other for their encouragement and testimonies during that time of suffering and persecution. Both considered it an honor and a grace to suffer for the Lord. Richard Wurmbrand once said during one of his sermons that “Moldoveanu was one of the the greatest saints I have met in my 15 years of prison. He came smiling from the torture room. His approach was that of a lamb. While I was protesting against the guards’ abuses against others or myself, he never protested.”(3)
Moldoveanu was released five years later during a national amnesty, but he was constantly under secret police surveillance. During that time he continued to meet with small house churches whenever possible. Over the years, for decades, he experienced countless illegal home searches, abuses and threats, but he always thanked the Lord for them and he continued to pray for his persecutors.
In a time when the communist regime kept a tight grip on any publication, even owning an unregistered typewrite could put you in prison up to five years, Moldoveanu continued to write and compose, so the spread of his hymns and songs could not be controlled or stopped by the communist government and its police agents. Many of his song were memorized, copied by hand, passed from one believe to another and later even recorded, all his songs were used by the Lord to comfort and nurture the faith of his children for more than six decades. Because of the constant surveillance, poverty and poor health, he could not work or travel much.
In spite of all these inconveniences he was constantly visited daily by Christians from all over the country of Romania, that were warmly welcomed in the small apartment he was renting. A visit with him was quite an experience. In a country of deep religious divisions, Moldoveanu mended many fences and never asked visitors for anything other than their first names. He was even aware that some of his visitor were agents of secret police, but he used to say “they needed to hear the good news too!” He shared his song freely with all his brothers and sisters in Christ. Later after the communist regime fell and freedom was in the country, in the recent years when many artist were recording albums that included his songs, he never asked for copyright royalties. Contrary he always encouraged church musicians and artists to arrange his songs for choirs and orchestras. He always look upon his songs and hymns as “God copyrighted.”
Many time his lyrics would make some one feel spiritually immature. “This is a curse” said once Jan Staneschi, the former director of the Bucharest Baptist Seminary, when he heard the song named “Break my will even with heavy blows.” “It is not a curse”, Moldoveanu would reply back at a musical symposium. “It is my commitment to God’s will, as was the virgin Mary’s. His will is good and perfect”
It has been God’s infinite wisdom to choose a simple and a modest man, a hymn writer like Moldoveanu and not a famous preacher to contribute and help support the faith in God during these times of suffering of God’s children. Many of his songs and hymns are very sophisticated and requires quite a bit of vocal training and abilities, but most of his songs are simple and easy to sing, either solo, or in choir arrangements. His songs always appeal to the depth of the human soul either in private moments or in public church worship.
Nicolae Moldoveanu was a miracle of God for a suffering and persecuted church. As the old hymn of The Lord’s Army movement said, “May the Lord be praised”, I say Amen and a thank you from the bottom of my heart.