Schiedel, Harold (1910-1989)

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Lawrence Harold Schiedel: chorale director and singing school teacher, was born 15 February 1910 to Lanson Schiedel (10 February 1883-10 April 1932) and Lovina Schmidt Schiedel (23 January 1889-8 July 1967). Harold was the second oldest of eight children. On 14 March 1934 he married Edna Schmitt (31 July 1909-8 July 1980). They raised a family of five children: Wayne, Paul, Miriam, James and John.

Harold and Edna began their family living in Kitchener on Samuel Street and attended First Mennonite Church. As the family grew they moved to a large home in Doon and attended the Weber Mennonite Church. He was a longterm employee at Kleopfer Coal company in Kitchener where he eventually became the foreman.

As a young person Harold learned to sing in congregational singing schools in the Mannheim Mennonite Church, his home congregation. Singing school teacher Moses Hunsberger recognized his potential and invited Harold, then 16 years of age, to teach for him on occasion. Schiedel accepted the challenge and went on to develop his own technique for teaching the rudiments of music, while also borrowing techniques from other singing school teachers.

From 1930 to 1940 Schiedel taught many people in Swiss background Mennonite congregations in southern Ontario the skills of four part a capella singing. In each class period he taught some basic skills, and then practiced them by singing songs requiring the learned skills. At the end of the class he frequently had his students practise conducting a hymn. In this way he trained people to conduct congregational singing. Schiedel continued teaching in singing schools after 1940 although they diminished in frequency as music programs in high schools, including Rockway Mennonite School, trained young people to sing.

From 1940 to 1950 Harold Schiedel founded and conducted the Nightingale Chorus whose members were youth from churches both in the Ontario Amish Mennonite Conference and the Mennonite Conference of Ontario. For six months each year they gave a 30 minute programs every Sunday over radio station CKCR, Kitchener, Ontario. It was a program where people requested songs for special occasions in their lives. The Nightingale Chorus gave programs in most of the Mennonite congregations in southern Ontario as well as congregations in upstate New York. Harold also had a significant ministry in Brethren In Christ congregations. He was a frequent song leader for their camp meetings in Pennsylvania and Ohio and also the annual Watchnight service at Niagara Christian College.

In 1960 Schiedel joined the Conservative Mennonite movement in Ontario and led congregational singing in the Heidelberg and Countryside churches. Harold and Edna lived in retirement at Fairview Mennonite Home in Cambridge, Ontario where Edna died on 8 July 1980 and Harold died on 9 June 1989. They are buried at the Mannheim Mennonite cemetery.


Schultz, Jane Marie. "The Evolution of Singing Schools among the Swiss Mennonites of Southern Ontario." Honours Bachelor of Arts thesis, University of Waterloo. 1987.

Interviews by author with family members and participants in members of Nightingale Chorus singers and people trained in his Singing Schools.

Author(s) J. Laurence Martin
Date Published May 2014

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MLA style

Martin, J. Laurence. "Schiedel, Harold (1910-1989)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2014. Web. 10 Aug 2020.,_Harold_(1910-1989)&oldid=122693.

APA style

Martin, J. Laurence. (May 2014). Schiedel, Harold (1910-1989). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 August 2020, from,_Harold_(1910-1989)&oldid=122693.

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