The influence of the German Protestant reformation upon the music worship of the church
Kuhn, Anne Wicker
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During the first quarter of the sixteenth century there came to concrescence a religious revolution, whose antecedents had been manifesting themselves for several centuries. This movement, known as the Lutheran Reformation, was destined to react profoundly, not only upon every phase of German life, hut likewise upon the religious life of lands outside Germany. The political and social repercussions of this Reformation have been the subjects of full treatment by historians, who have tended to neglect the significant cultural impact of the new movement. This Thesis represents an attempt to evaluate, in the light of the four centuries which have elapsed, the artistic and cultural aspect of the Lutheran Reformation, with particular reference to the influence which it exerted upon the sacred-musical tradition in Germany. It is the opinion of most of the writers upon this subject that Lutheranism was spread quite as much by means of the instrumentality of the Chorale, as by the vocal preaching of her doctrines by her clergy. This musical form epitomized the religious soul of the German people, and was the basis for a phenomenal artistic development within German musical art, which reached its peak with the work of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). After the death of Bach, the Chorale declined, due chiefly to the influence of two religious trends, Pietism and Rationalism, until the rugged religious poems and melodies which made such large contribution to the propagation of the Evangelical message were no longer at home there. It is the opinion of the writer that the Chorale was transplanted to a more congenial soil, that of Anglo-American Protestantism, and especially that branch of Protestantism which was dominated by the Arminian theological tradition. In England, the development of the popular hymn had been arrested by the peculiar circumstances by which the Reformation was effected. However, the Moravian and the Wesleyan movements produced some translations of German Chorales into the English language. The most significant movement by which the Chorale became naturalized in the English-speaking religious world was that of the nineteenth century, when large numbers of German hymns were made available by the tireless efforts at research and translation by a number of scholars, outstanding among whom was Catherine Winkworth. This Thesis attempts to analyze the religious pattern, with a view to discovering, first, what conditions prevalent there were capable of being affirmatively influenced by the introduction of music of the character of the Chorales; and second, to determine both the quantitative and the qualitative influence of the Chorale upon the music worship of the English-speaking churches of Great Britain and America, particularly the Nonconformist branches in England and the denominations in the United States. The Lutheran musical tradition is considered to be the most truly "Protestant" in character —- that is, it represents the spirit of the Reformation, with its insistence upon the priesthood of all believers, and upon the significance of the individual worshiper. The writer believes that this tradition will find for itself a home so long as Protestantism lasts; if it become neglected in one land, it will find acceptance in another. And wherever it is accorded a welcome, it will exert a strong influence for spiritual warmth, combined with spiritual depth. The method of the writer has been that of carefully investigating the works of the chief authorities upon the subjects involved, including the antecedents of the German Lutheran Chorale, the life and work of Luther (including his reform of the worship of the Church), the development of the Chorale, the parallel development of a vernacular musical tradition in England, and the introduction of the Chorale into the music worship of the Anglo-American religious scene. The findings of the study include those reached by an examination of representative Hymnals in use by religious groups in the several branches of Anglo-American Protestantism, and representation, numerically, in these collections is made a basis for a quantitative evaluation of the abiding influence of the Chorale upon the religious life of the respective groups; while the conclusion reached concerning the qualitative influence involves more especially the nature of the hymns adopted by English hymnals from the German religious musical heritage.
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