Ephrata Cloister was founded by Conrad Beissel, a Pietist dissenter who left Germany to seek religious freedom in Pennsylvania. The monastery he established for men and women on the banks of the Cocalico Creek in northern Lancaster County was based on a synthesis of pietism and mysticism. Largely celibate, the community also welcomed families. In monastic tradition, members prayed many times each day, but there was still time for creative production. Ephrata is especially celebrated for its extensive hymnody, composed by Beissel and other members of the cloister. As the hymns were constantly being renewed and replaced, Ephrata also achieved fame for its illuminated tunebooks and established a publishing center complete with a paper mill, printing office, and bookbindery. None of the ink drawings in the several dozen tunebooks that survive are signed, and it is believed that various members contributed the embellishments. This and several other tunebooks show an Ephrata sister wearing the signature long white garment with an apron-like piece of cloth known as a scapular and a rounded hood. She stands under a crowned and arched bower, a motif that is thought to have influenced the development of fraktur in the Schwenkfelder community.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Ephrata Cloister Tunebook," exhibition label for Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2012.