Volume 13, no. 1:
Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation, and Three Centuries of Conflict. By Joseph Herl. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. [xi, 354 pp, ISBN 0-19-515439-8. $65.]
Reviewed by Mary E. Frandsen*
1.1 All liturgy is local. Such might have been the phrase coined by the late Thomas Tip ONeill, congressman from Massachusetts, had he spent his time investigating the musical and ritual practices of the Lutheran church during the first 250 years of its existence, rather than serving in Congress (as unlikely a proposition as that might seem). For what scholars who embark on studies of music and liturgy in the Lutheran church from the Reformation until ca.1780 soon discover is that what holds true for one church does not necessarily obtain for another in the same town, or in the next city or neighboring region. This liturgical variety represents one of the most fascinating aspects of Lutheran history, but can also be one of the most frustrating, for the differences that existed make it very difficult to generalize about liturgical and musical practices in the Lutheran church between ca.1520 and ca.1780. Thus any author who attempts to look at Lutheran liturgy and music in this period of history faces a very daunting prospect, one made even more complex by the lacunae in the surviving records. Those documents that provide the most detail concerning the liturgical practices of a specific church at a particular time—descriptive orders of worship—are extraordinarily few in number. Other more prescriptive documents, the so-called church orders, present their own problems, particularly when one attempts to determine their temporal and geographic validity.
1.2 An example from Saxony will help to reveal the complexity of this situation. From 1539 until well into the eighteenth century, the Agenda of Duke Heinrich remained the official liturgical formulary for electoral Saxony (which included Dresden and Leipzig), and was reprinted many times virtually unchanged during that period.1 In the order of worship that it establishes for the Sunday morning service in cities and towns with Latin schools, the liturgy, which was to be sung by a choir of schoolboys,2 included very few hymns, and did not yet include any extra-liturgical figural compositions, such as motets. Whether the items of the Ordinary and Proper were sung as chant or polyphony is not indicated. Over the next two hundred years, however, liturgical records from various Saxon courts and cities reveal that additional congregational hymns, polyphonic settings of the Ordinary, extra-liturgical sacred art music, and organ music all had gained a permanent presence in liturgies in Saxony; perhaps the richest example is the liturgies as celebrated in Bachs Leipzig. The liturgical forms in the Agenda, however, were never updated to reflect any of these musical accretions. As a result, despite its official status, the Agenda today yields a false picture of musico-liturgical practices in Saxony in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and must be supplemented with contemporary, local sources.
1.3 Despite the fact that prescriptive records such as these may deviate widely from actual practice, however, they have remained one of the main sources of information on historic Lutheran liturgies, due to their general availability. This has led to misinformation and inaccurate assumptions, both of which Joseph Herl attempts to treat in this book. And despite the obstacles placed in his way by the vicissitudes of history, he succeeds admirably on a number of fronts.
1.4 Herl intends to discredit the long-held notion that all Lutheran congregations sang with full heart and voice from the time of the Reformation, and that the Lutheran liturgy was congregational (by which he means that most if not all of the elements of the liturgy were sung by the congregation) from the start, as it is today.3 In order to demonstrate his primary thesis that congregational singing developed slowly, he employs a methodology that differs from that of earlier scholars, who relied exclusively on the type of prescriptive liturgical records mentioned above, as well as on problematic (in Herls view) readings of Luthers early liturgies and his statements about music in the liturgy. Herl studies the prescriptive records in some detail, but also makes use of descriptive records, particularly those that resulted from church visitations. The latter yield plentiful evidence for his primary thesis, at least as it pertains to small-town and village churches. Far less convincing, however, are his contentions that the liturgy had become congregational by the mid-eighteenth century, and that the growth of congregational singing produced a competition for liturgical space between choir and congregation—the worship wars of the title.
2.1 Herl opens his study with a discussion of the various liturgies formulated by Luther in the 1520s. These, together with a few others, formed the basis for Lutheran liturgical practice for the next 250 years. In his 1523 writing, Von Ordenung Gottis Diensts ynn der Gemeyne (Order of the Divine Service in the Congregation), Luther presented his concerns about the abuses of the Mass. In his view, the Word of God had been silenced, fables and lies abounded in the histories of saints and in songs and sermons, and the people had begun to understand their attendance at Mass as a work promising Gods grace and salvation. In the process, faith had been lost. In this essay, Luther did not provide an actual order of worship, but instead provided an overview of the services that he felt should be celebrated, and what their general content should be. Herl disagrees with Robin Leaver that the services described here were intended to be sung by the congregation, and feels they were more likely still the province of the choir.4 In Luthers next contribution on the liturgy, the Formulae Missae et Communionis offered in the same year, he provided a full order of worship, to be sung entirely in Latin by the choir; he did, however, add a paragraph in the extended explanatory remarks that accompany the liturgy in which he stated a desire for vernacular songs for the people to sing at several liturgical junctures. He also expressed a desire for German songs that could be sung in alternation with those in Latin, so that eventually the liturgy could once again be sung by the people, as it once had been, but now in German. As Herl shows in his tables in Appendix 4, this practice of the dual presentation of liturgical items (first in Latin by the choir, then in German by the people), particularly the Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo, became quite widespread.
2.2 Three years later, in 1526, Luther offered his Deudsche Messe und Ordnung Gottis Diensts, which again included a complete order of worship, but now entirely in the vernacular. The statements that accompanied this service underscore Luthers non-insistence on liturgical uniformity, another hallmark of Lutheran liturgical history. Here Herl challenges the received tradition that this German Mass represented the paradigm of the congregational liturgy, with the people singing all the parts that had formerly been the province of the choir (9). As he points out, Luther only specified that the entire church should sing the German Creed after the Gospel, and otherwise did not specify who was to sing the various elements of the liturgy—whether congregation or choir. Herl concludes that the pre-Reformation traditions, with the choir singing the majority of items, probably continued at first. He also questions whether it was actually Luthers intention that the people should eventually learn to sing the entire mass in German (9), and points out that Luther had an apparent change of heart on this issue: in 1523, as mentioned above, he had indicated that he hoped that the congregation would eventually sing the entire Mass in German; five years later, however, he wrote that he did not intend to abolish the Latin Mass, and would not have allowed the vernacular unless compelled to (10). In 1528, as Herl states, [Luther] was content simply to allow certain vernacular songs to be inserted into the traditional mass (11). Thus the Reformers views on the institution of a congregational liturgy remain unclear. Yet throughout the book, Herl seems to take this idea of the congregational liturgy as a central desideratum of the new church, the pursuit of which caused the slow but inevitable eradication of the choral liturgy.
2.3 Herl then discusses subsequent early Lutheran liturgical formularies, such as those found in the Saxon Agenda. While he points out how little congregational song the Agenda actually prescribed, he does not seem to view this document (and others like it) as interesting fusions of various elements of Luthers Latin and German Masses, which they seem to have been.5 For example, the Agenda stipulates the following order for the Sunday (communion) service in city churches:6
Here we see the mixture of Latin and German, and the dual presentation of some liturgical elements, that remained defining features of liturgies in Saxony and elsewhere for the next 200 years. The Agenda also provides orders of worship for towns and cities without Latin schools.7 These services are entirely in German, and indicate that das volck was to sing the various psalms and hymns incorporated into the liturgies.8
3.1 In Chapter 2, entitled Catholic Liturgy—Lutheran Liturgy, Herl seeks to determine the congregations musical role in German churches in the years before the Reformation. This is admittedly a difficult task, as much work remains to be done on the pre-Reformation liturgy in German-speaking lands.9 Some of the musico-liturgical practices seen in early Lutheran liturgies may well predate the Reformation, but the state of research renders this difficult to ascertain. Here Herl advances the thesis that in liturgical matters, and especially in hymn singing, Lutherans were not nearly so innovative as is often supposed (23). He also calls upon the work of Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, who has written quite extensively on the history of congregational singing in the pre-Reformation church in German-speaking regions. Ruffs work reveals the extent to which some of these congregations sang during the liturgy, and just what they sang. Herl rightly concludes that congregational hymn singing in the vernacular was not an innovation of Luther, as is often assumed—Ruff has demonstrated its use in some areas centuries before the Reformation. One of the most common uses was the practice of interpolating a vernacular hymn (sung by the people) between the verses of the Latin sequence (sung by the choir); this had begun by at least the twelfth century.10 Thus, as Herl says, Lutherans retained what was to them an ancient tradition in singing these sequences with their interpolations on the appropriate days (28). Herl also discusses Luthers changes to the Mass and Office, and provides helpful tables comparing the elements of the medieval Catholic Mass with Luthers Latin and German Masses. As he points out, Luthers German Mass, even with its deviations from the Roman Mass, seems less novel when viewed in light of the use of German Mass elements and songs prior to the Reformation. His discussion of Luthers changes to the Office (matins and vespers), however, tends to minimize what were significant changes in liturgical structure.
4.1 In Chapter 3, The Church Orders: An Introduction, Herl provides an overview of the church orders, which stand as seminal documents in the history of Lutheran liturgical praxis. After the Reformation, a new system of church governance was required in Lutheran lands, as Lutherans had rejected the authority of the pope. In general, the sovereigns of the various German states and principalities assumed the role of head of the church in their own territories. In this role, each promulgated a church order, as did the local governments of many cities and towns. These prescriptive documents, which proliferated after the Reformation, represent attempts to govern all aspects of church life, including worship and liturgy, and as such include liturgical formularies for use in the respective territory, city, town, or court. Herl provides helpful definitions of relevant terms found in these documents, and in Appendix 4, provides in tabular form the liturgical structure and content of the morning service, or Hauptgottesdienst, as reported in 172 church orders dated between 1523 and 1747. He also discusses some of the more interesting ancillary information about worship that appears in these documents, such as the location of the choir, the use of the organ, attendance at services, the length of services, and demeanor at services. Some of Herls categorical statements here on musical practice, however, would seem to be contradicted by contemporary evidence. For example, he states that both the chorus musicus and the larger group sang exclusively choraliter, that is, unison chant, in most places during the first half of the sixteenth century (44). This view fails to take into account the widespread dissemination of Johann Walters Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn, a collection of polyphonic chorale settings that was first issued in 1525, as well as the many publications of liturgical polyphony and motets issued by Georg Rhau between 1538 and 1548—including the re-publication of Walters polyphonic chorale book because of its continuing usefulness.11 Some church orders also document figural singing before 1550; for example, the 1538 church order for St. Wenzelskirche in Naumburg indicates that figural music was sung on high feast days, and that on these days the Gloria could be sung polyphonically, and a motet could be sung after the Epistle.12
5.1 Herl next moves to an analysis of the information regarding the musical roles of the choir and congregation that can be gleaned from the church orders.13 Here he determines the percentages of choral vis-à-vis congregational singing in the church orders between 1523 and 1600 (why he stops at 1600 is not clear), and determines whether each of the various elements of the Ordinary and Proper was sung by the choir, the congregation, or both. The church orders indicate that some liturgical elements, such as the Introit and Kyrie, were more often specified to be sung by the choir, while the Gloria was frequently sung in German, by the people (often following the Latin Gloria of the choir). One of the many items of interest found in these documents is the Lutheran retention of many sequences after the Council of Trent had banned all but four. As mentioned above, these sequences were often sung in alternation with German hymns. Fully three-quarters of the time, the church orders specify that the Creed was to be sung by the people in its German hymn version, Wir glauben all an einen Gott; here also a two-fold performance (Latin followed by German) was common. Herl also describes the so-called pulpit service (Kanzeldienst), which incorporated the sermon proper as well as the Lords Prayer, the re-reading of the Gospel, and several congregational hymns (sung before and after the sermon). According to the church orders, the Sanctus was often omitted, but if included, it was usually sung by the choir. Only a few church orders stipulated that the congregation should sing the Sanctus in German; if so, the usual choice was Luthers Jesaia dem Propheten, das geschah. Neither did the Agnus Dei find a fixed place in Lutheran church orders; it was sung more often than the Sanctus, however, either before, during, or after communion. Here the most popular German form was Deciuss O Lamm Gottes unschuldig. Just as Luther had suggested in 1523, a great many church orders stipulated the singing of hymns by the congregation during the distribution of communion, and often included a short list of hymns appropriate to this part of the service; Luthers reworking of Jesus Christus unser Heiland remained the most popular. The church orders also reveal that not until after 1680 was a hymn often sung following the dismissal. Herl also discusses the form and use of matins and vespers, the two canonical hours retained by Lutherans in public services, and the German substitutions made in these services. From the church orders he was also able to develop a list of the most popular German hymns—popularity being determined by the number of church orders in which the hymn appears. Most frequently encountered was the German creed (the Glaube), the hymn that Luther himself stipulated that the congregation should sing. Herl also points out that in addition to prescribing the elements of the liturgies as well as their mode of performance, some of these church orders also reveal details about the quality of congregational singing. While the congregation was expected to sing at various points in the liturgy, it seems that at first, their participation often remained less than enthusiastic. As a result, various church orders included exhortations to the people to sing.
6.1 In Chapter 5, Ecclesiastical Visitations, Herl discusses the records of ecclesiastical visitations and what these can reveal about congregational singing. After the Reformation, Lutheran sovereigns and consistories (church courts) ordered periodic visitations to all of the towns in a particular area by a committee of clergy, who set the agenda for the information that should be sought during the visit. In the visitation records for Saxony, for example, the questions included whether the people sang along with the choir on the hymns, following the clerk or choir, and whether the pastor allowed the people to sing (71). While answers for each question are not recorded for every church, many people were interviewed, and the reports preserve an abundance of information relevant to Herls research.
6.2 As Herl is trying to compare singing in various regions across Germany, he turns to secondary studies of visitation records for his source material. While it is somewhat regrettable that he did not examine the actual visitation reports themselves, it is certainly understandable, for even to describe the number of such records in German archives as voluminous would be a gross understatement. One could spend years examining those for Saxony alone. The use of secondary sources renders the task manageable, but the availability and content of these sources also determines and somewhat limits Herls geographic coverage, which includes parts of the states of electoral Saxony (the northern region, around Wittenberg) and Hesse, as well as Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, Calenberg-Göttingen, the area around Nuremberg, Guttenberg, the area of Henneberg in Thuringia, and Grubenhagen. Most of the information reported derives from reports from sixteenth-century visitations, but some seventeenth-century reports are also included. Even though the geographic coverage is a bit spotty (northern Germany is not represented at all, for example, nor are the areas around Leipzig, Dresden, Pirna, Freiberg, Chemnitz, Zwickau, and other towns), the records examined by Herl demonstrate that congregational singing took hold very slowly over the course of the sixteenth century, particularly in smaller towns, but also in some of those larger towns with Latin schools (and thus choirs). Herl derives the preponderance of the information that he presents from the volumes published by Karl Pallas, Die Registraturen der Kirchenvisitationen im ehemals sächsischen Kurkreise.14 He organizes the information from these Saxon records by decade, which reveals that information on singing increases over the course of the century. These reports overwhelmingly support Herls central conclusion that congregational singing was poor to nonexistent in a number of places, and so it was not an unqualified success even seventy-five to a hundred years after the Reformation was introduced (75). Herl has been criticized by Christopher Brown for using these visitation records uncritically and for not considering what might be particular biases on the part of the reviewers or the reporters.15 Such criticism seems utterly groundless—the sheer amount of specific material that he presents itself argues for the legitimacy and validity of the sources: there is just too much indication here that congregational singing had a faltering start to attribute this to a particular slant on the part of the original visitors.
7.1 The visitation reports published in these secondary sources, however, lack information from cities, virtually all of which had one or more Latin schools with choirs. Thus it remains difficult both to determine whether congregations sang better in cities with choirs and to evaluate the choirs role in the cultivation of congregational singing. Herl acknowledges this problem, however, and identifies its cause in the tendency of cities to resist visitations. Thus in Chapter 6, Congregational Hymnals, in order to compensate for the lack of published visitation reports from urban areas, Herl turns to an examination of the use of hymnals as a means of studying congregational singing in cities. Here he asks, to what extent were hymnals used by congregations (as opposed to choir and clergy) in the sixteenth century? (87). He presumes that if the people had hymn texts in front of them, then there was less need of a choir or clerk to help them sing the right words, and congregations could assert themselves more readily in the liturgy (87). But this presumption rests on rather shaky ground; today, for example, many modern congregations (particularly post-Vatican II Catholic congregations) do have the words (and the music) available to them, but still either do not sing much at all or do not sing well—clearly the availability of the text does not in itself foster good singing. The presence of a choir and clerk must also have been important, but not essential: quite a few Catholic congregations today still sing poorly if at all, despite the availability of a hymnal or worship folder that provides all of the texts and music sung by the congregation, and strong leadership by the cantor, choir and organ. At the same time, many Protestant congregations continue to sing well and enthusiastically—even those with no cantor, a weak choir, and a poor organist. Surely confident singing depends on more than just the presence of the book in the hand. Curiously, however, Herl never asks the question that would seem central to his investigation: what are the ingredients or conditions necessary to encourage people to sing?
7.2 Herl points out that many scholars have assumed that German Lutheran congregations used hymnals soon after the Reformation. He questions this assumption, however, and investigates the actual beginnings of hymnal use. As he demonstrates, these are complicated questions, as practices varied in different parts of Germany. Herls coverage and discussion of the growth of hymn-writing and the publication of hymnals is excellent, and includes an impressive collation of hymnals and a discussion of the relationships between them. He looks at the evidence city by city, and also includes hymnals not covered in Das deutsche Kirchenlied (DKL).16 For purposes of comparison, he includes Catholic and Calvinist hymnals in his discussion, and demonstrates that while Lutherans were not alone in using hymnals, they did publish the overwhelming number of hymnals. Herl concludes, however, that most of these sixteenth-century hymnals were not used by congregations, but by choirs. He feels that although individuals may have purchased hymnals and taken them to church, there is no indication that they could use them there. He even puzzles over why a number of them were published at all, and doubts the veracity of most of the title pages that state that the hymnal in question was designed for singing in church. He provides little documentation to justify his doubt, however; instead, he relies chiefly upon whether or not congregational singing is mentioned in the particular hymnals preface. For example, the preface to Das teutsch Gesang (Nuremberg, 1525–8) exhorted parents to teach hymns to children so they could sing them with the entire congregation as they attended church; that of the Gantz newe geystliche teütsche Hymnus (Nuremberg, 1527) indicates that it was for singing in the church or otherwise. Yet Herl says there is no evidence that the latter hymnal was actually used in churches in Nuremberg or was even intended for use by the congregation. One is left wondering just what he finds so problematic about this and similar contemporary evidence, and why he rejects it so readily. Some contemporary evidence would appear to be quite reliable; in its Sunday morning liturgy for churches in cities with Latin schools, for example, the Saxon Agenda refers to the singing of the hymns Jesus Christus unser Heiland and Ich danke dem Herrn von ganzem Herzen (Ps. 111) during the Distribution, and indicates that the latter is also in the little German songbook.17 These hymns were probably sung by the people, although the Agenda is not specific on this point. This represents a rather early reference to the use of a hymnal in church; the rubric itself quite likely refers to the hymnal first published in 1529 in Wittenberg by Joseph Klug, Geistliche Lieder auffs new gebessert zu Wittemberg; in the 1533 edition of the hymnal, the hymn Jesus Christus unser Heiland appears on folios 27v–29r (two melodies are provided), and Ich danke dem Herrn appears on folios 30v–34r, with the header Der cxj Psalm, zusingen wenn man das Sacrament empfehet (the 111th Psalm, to sing when one receives the Sacrament). The hymn does not appear in Walters polyphonic collection of 1525.
8.1 The title of the next chapter, Choral Music versus Congregational Singing, foregrounds an issue that Herl has referenced numerous times in the previous chapters: the conflict (as he sees it) between the choir and congregation that resulted from the growth of congregational singing. Here Herl advances the argument that once the congregation did begin to sing well, it began to resent the choirs role in the liturgy, and began to agitate for its own liturgical place. It must be stated from the outset that the evidence for this position is slim at best. Virtually all of the quotations that Herl presents on this topic (and many others that he has not included), while demonstrating a growing concern for the cultivation of congregational singing and its inclusion in the liturgy, speak of a desire for the song of the people to exist alongside or together with the figural music of the choir.18 Herl, however, interprets this expressed desire for congregational song as a worship war, and from these quotations (and other material presented later) concludes that the congregation began to assert itself or claim its own place in the liturgy. As he puts it, by the second quarter of the seventeenth century the laity had become accustomed to singing in church and began to oppose the encroachment of figural music on their territory (117). But just what constituted the laitys territory in the liturgy remains undefined here, and the basis for the idea that the congregation suddenly felt that it owned particular pieces of liturgical property is wanting.
8.2 Herl first discusses the sixteenth-century debates and controversies between Lutherans and Calvinists (adherents of the Reformed tradition), in which the Lutherans consistently defended the place of figural and instrumental music in the liturgy, while the Calvinists generally opposed it. After discussing the views of various early reformers (Karlstadt, Calvin, Zwingli) and debates between Calvinists and Lutherans on the subject of the place of instrumental and polyphonic music in the liturgy (e.g., Andreae and Beza, the Anhalt Controversy), Herl concludes that polyphonic choral music, which might otherwise have played a lesser role, was emphasized by Lutherans once Reformed theologians had found it unacceptable (110). But Lutherans had included polyphonic vocal music in liturgies from the first decades of history of the church; the many publications of sacred polyphony issued by Georg Rhau in the 1530s and 1540s, for example, demonstrate the support of and demand for figural music on the part of early Lutherans. Nothing in the Lutheran defenses of figural (and instrumental) music in the face of Calvinist attacks on both suggests that Lutherans opted to champion the use of figural music in their worship services as a response to the opposition to it expressed by those of the Reformed tradition.19
8.3 In his effort to explain the Lutheran use of figural music as a response to the Calvinist position, Herl also points to the 1616 Caeremoniae Lutheranae of Philipp Arnoldi, a Lutheran supporter of polyphonic and instrumental music, and quotes the following passage:
According to Herl, in the sixteenth century, the songs before and after the sermon and during the communion had typically belonged to the congregation (110). Thus he concludes that here an influential writer was giving his unqualified blessing to the choral performance of these songs, removing from the service what little the congregation had hitherto been accustomed to singing. This would have been unnecessary if not for the Reformed threat (110). But in Lutheran liturgical parlance, the phrase before and after the sermon is commonly used to refer to two different pairs of liturgical junctures. The first of these occurred within the pulpit service itself, and followed the sermons praeloquium (or introduction) as well as its main body.20 Hymns were commonly sung at these two points. The second set of junctures, however, occurred outside the pulpit service entirely: after the reading of the Gospel (before the Creed and pulpit service with sermon) and then after the entire pulpit service, which concluded with prayers. Already in the late sixteenth century, these two latter positions were often occupied by polyphonic music, and the designations vor der Predigt / nach der Predigt (before the sermon / after the sermon) seen in church orders frequently refer to these two moments in the liturgy. One sees these same rubrics in some of Bachs two-part cantatas. Thus here, rather than advocating the appropriation of congregational space by the choir, Arnoldi is more likely describing the figural music performed after the Gospel (and hence before the sermon) and at the conclusion of the entire pulpit service; in all likelihood, the congregation still sang the two hymns during the pulpit service. The entire structure (Gospel—figural music—Creed—sermon with hymns and annexes—figural music) was typical in many Lutheran churches, and is laid out in detail in an order of worship from the Dresden court in 1650 (the excerpt begins after the recitation of the Epistle and singing of the Gradual hymn):
Afterwards, Psalm 68 was read in place of the Gospel, and then Psalm 136 was performed with voices and instruments, with the corps of trumpeters, after which the Creed was sung with the congregation.21 Afterwards the sermon was preached by Senior Court Preacher Dr. Jacob Weller, before which, and before the Lords Prayer, Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren was sung; the [sermon] text was drawn from the 3rd chapter of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, verses 22–4. After the sermon and the confession, the appointed announcement and prayer were read, and before the Lords Prayer, Es wolt uns Gott gnädig sein was sung.22 After the sermon, a tenor sang the following words from Psalm 66 in recitative: [vv. 8–14 follow]. After this followed the Te Deum laudamus with the entire musical ensemble, trumpeters, and timpanists. After this, the appointed Collect and Blessing were spoken, and to close, Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort was sung.23
8.4 Herl expresses the view that choral polyphony was heard in only a few German churches before about 1550. This would seem to be an underestimation of the importance of polyphony in the first three decades of the churchs history. It is true, however, that one sees a real growth in the inclusion of polyphony in German Lutheran churches after ca.1550, a growth that is reflected in the dramatic increase in the number of publications of polyphony by and for Lutherans. As the century progressed toward its close, those in churches with choirs typically heard polyphonic presentations of the Introit, various mass movements, various salutations and versicles, and motets in German and Latin; the latter could be sung at several points during the liturgy, including communion, where they often preceded the congregational hymns. Choirs were gradually directed to sing figural music on a particular schedule; some churches alternated weekly between music sung choraliter and that sung figuraliter; others established different alternation patterns. Over time, the polyphonic (as opposed to monophonic) presentation of the liturgy by the choir became the norm in many churches, particularly those associated with Latin schools. According to Herl, the rise of polyphony created a new competition between the choir and congregation for space in the liturgy, and contributed to the so-called worship wars announced in the books title. It is true that the growth of polyphonic performance expanded the choirs role, as extra-liturgical pieces such as motets were interpolated at various liturgical junctures, such as after the Gospel, the sermon, and during communion. But the congregations role expanded as well, with hymns sung after the Greek/Latin Kyrie and Gloria, after the Epistle (in place of the Gradual), during the pulpit service, during communion, and at the end of the service. Given the limited role assigned to the congregation in Luthers own liturgies and the early church orders, it would seem more accurate to characterize the musical developments after 1517 as a two-fold musical expansion of the liturgy that involved both the choir and the congregation, rather than as the exclusion of the congregation by choral polyphony.
8.5 Having identified this new competition, Herl then explains the introduction of the cantional style—straightforward four-part harmonizations of hymns and psalm settings—as a compromise that allowed congregational monophony and choral polyphony to coexist, as congregations could and did sing along on the melody line of these settings. It seems far more likely, however, that the cantional style developed in direct response to the increased desire for polyphony in the sixteenth century, and provided a way for the choir to sing hymns in parts rather than monophonically, while allowing the congregation to sing as well. Herl continues his discussion of unified choral and congregational song with a look at Michael Praetoriuss preface to his collection Urania (1615), in which the composer explains how the choir and congregation might be combined in various of the chorale-based works in that collection. Here Praetorius provides important information on performance practices of the time. But omitted from Herls discussion is any consideration of Praetoriuss important discussions of the liturgical placement of figural music for the choir alone.24 As a result, his treatment suggests that Praetorius advocated that the choir should only sing together with the congregation, when in fact the composer-theorist describes several different important facets of musical practice, not all of which involve the congregation.
8.6 Herl next turns his attention to the new Italian style that appeared around 1600, and describes its introduction into Lutheran sacred repertories, first by Praetorius, and then by that famous trio in Saxony—Schütz, Schein, and Scheidt. (Never acknowledged here, however, is the continued widespread performance by Lutherans of music by Catholic composers, particularly Italians.) One of the new styles most prominent characteristics, of course, was the tossing back and forth of brief motives in both chorale-based and free compositions. According to Herl, with the introduction of this style the division between the music of the choir and that of the people thereby deepened; this is in marked contrast to the cantional style, which had attempted to combine the two (117). Such an assertion ignores the Spruchmotetten and Latin-texted motets that had coexisted in liturgies for decades with music in the cantional style. Herl leaves the reader with the impression that before the new Italian style appeared, the choir sang only hymns in cantional style together with the congregation, and thus he pits the cantional style against the new Italian style as polar opposites, as if nothing existed in the musical breach. This is simply inaccurate.
8.7 There is no doubt, however, that the introduction of the Italian concertato style into Lutheran church music had its fierce opponents, none more vehement than the Rostock theologian Theophilus Großgebauer (1627–61).25 In his influential reform tract of 1661, Wächterstimme aus dem verwüsteten Zion, Großgebauer called attention to the concerto style, in which texts were torn apart and chopped into little pieces through quick runs in the throat (118). Großgebauer clearly disapproved of Italian musical style, and also its purveyors—his attacks on church musicians are rather virulent. But he does not, as Herl suggests, pit choir against congregation; nor does he advocate the outright banishment of figural music from the liturgy, although one could read his comments in that light.26 Like his theological colleagues in Rostock, Großgebauer sought to reform the church from within, and felt strongly that congregational singing should play an important role in the revitalization of the institution.27 Neither Großgebauer nor the other critics cited by Herl questioned the place of figural music in the liturgy—it had been well established back in the sixteenth century. Instead, their chief aim was to change or reform the style of the figural and organ music employed during liturgies. And despite the criticisms of Großgebauer and others, the Italian style did not disappear, and those works in which it was primarily heard—sacred concertos—led ultimately to the madrigalian cantata. Thus one is left to wonder just what impact Großgebauer, Gerber, and other critics had on Lutheran musico-liturgical praxis.
8.8 In the end, the implications of this chapter are puzzling: if both Lutheran theologians and lay people came widely to oppose the inclusion of figural music in the liturgy, how and why did it continue to maintain such a strong presence there? Given the inclination of Lutherans to dispense with those things they deemed ritually suspect or theologically unsound, it would seem that if figural music had really been viewed as an impediment to meaningful worship, its role in the liturgy would have been diminished or suppressed entirely. But instead, it continued to flourish there, and its use created a great demand for new material: between ca.1550 and ca.1700, Lutheran presses continuously poured forth myriad publications of sacred music—mass settings, motets, and sacred concertos—for vocal ensembles to sing in church, and many city churches (particularly those with Latin schools, such as those in Dresden, Leipzig, Lübeck, Lüneburg and Breslau, to name but a few) amassed extensive collections of German and Italian figural music. And the inclusion—alongside congregational hymnody—of polyphonic Introit motets, salutations, mass movements, motets, sacred concertos, and/or cantatas in liturgies continued well into the eighteenth century. In Herls view, however, these facts can only mean that Lutherans were forced to continue to live under a loathed polyphonic regime. Somehow he cannot come to terms with what was normative in Lutheran liturgical practice of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries: services in which both choral polyphony (or soloistic figural music) and congregational singing played important roles. Nor can he see this shared responsibility as a valid consequence of Luthers reforms. Ultimately, he seems unable to see the active cultivation and coexistence of both figural music and congregational singing as a triumph of the Lutheran church in this era, something in which many contemporary Lutherans took great pride.
9.1 In Chapter 8, The Organ and Hymn Singing, Herl traces the changes in the organs function during worship from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth.28 In the early days of the Lutheran church, organists (in churches that had organs) were primarily responsible for providing the pitch for the choir with preludes and other introductions, and for substituting for the choir in alternatim performances and in the performance of motet intabulations. After 1600, organists were increasingly called upon to play continuo during the performance of figural music; gradually, the responsibility for accompanying congregational hymns was also added to their duties. Herl traces the introduction of organ accompaniment for hymns, the purpose of which was to keep the singing congregation together and on pitch, and demonstrates that the practice caught on slowly between 1650 and 1750 or later. He also discusses the ways in which organists harmonized hymns, and here points to cantionals and chorale books as resources for the organist. Traditionally, cantionals included hymns in four parts (set out in choirbook format), and after ca.1600 included a continuo part, while the chorale book included just the hymn melody and a continuo part (in score format), although a few of these also included the lower parts. It is not entirely clear, however, why Herl makes such a careful distinction between cantionals, such as those of Schein and Scheidt, and chorale books, which appeared later, in the history of hymn accompaniments for congregational singing. He states that the latter were specifically intended as [accompaniment books] for organists, and adds that the first of these, published for Reformed churches, appeared in 1665, while the earliest chorale book for Lutheran use was published in 1690 (137). Given the longstanding tradition of congregations singing the melody along with choral polyphony in the cantional style, however, it would seem that cantionals with continuo parts represented the first books of hymn accompaniments, and that the chorale books represented an extension of the practice begun with these earlier publications.29 Either type of book could be used with the congregation.30 As time went on, these chorale books began to include interludes—improvisational flourishes played between the phrases of the chorale. Herl includes a very informative discussion of the development of interludes and their purpose, as well as contemporary reaction to them. He also discusses the art of improvised preluding as treated by various eighteenth-century authors. The discussion would not be complete, however, without some examination of the abuse of the organ as seen by contemporary commentators. Herl chronicles some of the complaints voiced at the time, such as excessive volume, extensive preludes, and over-ornamentation of hymn melodies.
10.1 In chapter 9 on Performance Practice Herl deals with the various aspects of the repertory of Lutheran hymns and their performance. One of the curiosities that he addresses is the fact that although hundreds of hymns were composed and published during the period in question, the repertory of those sung in church by the congregation seems to have remained quite small, and centered on those of the Reformation era. Herl attributes this in part to the fact that before hymnal use became widespread, congregations sang hymns from memory, which limited the size of the repertory. He points out that the 1545 hymnal of Valentin Bapst, which was reissued numerous times, provided the central hymn repertory for the Lutheran church during this entire period, and states that for nearly two hundred years Lutherans sang little else (156). Accompanying this literal explosion in hymn writing in the seventeenth century were frequent prohibitions on the introduction of new hymns into the liturgy, even into the early eighteenth century. Yet even though the repertory remained quite limited, the quality of singing seems to have varied widely from very good to very poor; a report from Bautzen (in Saxony) in 1637, for example, referred to a great dissonance that arose when the congregation sang. Herl also looked into the question of hymn tempos, particularly since it is commonly believed that the chorales were sung very slowly during this era. Herl points out, however, that while information on hymn tempi is wanting for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a number of eighteenth-century authors complained that the hymns were sung too quickly. Among the more colorful comments is this one from a Bitterfeld hymnal of 1734: In addition, the spiritual songs must not be sung as if they were en route in the mail [i. e., quickly]; but rather the slower they are sung, the more edifying and enlivening they are (169). To his discussion of the slowing of hymn tempi Herl relates the straightening out of hymn rhythms seen over the course of the seventeenth century; by this he means the recasting of the earlier rhythmic versions with their frequent syncopations into square, isometric versions. Finally, it would seem that hymns also suffered some abuse during this era. In 1726, the author Christian Marbach cautioned that the devil attempted to neutralize the salutary effects of hymns in various ways, such as when foolish stories concerning hymns are told so that people can no longer sing them without laughing, or when people provoke laughter by their choice of hymns at funerals, such as when the hymn Einen guten Kampff hab ich auf der Welt gekämpffet (I Have Fought a Good Fight in this World) is chosen for someone whose only battle on earth was a constant one with his neighbors (173–4). Evidently games such as those played by many junior choir members during the sermon, in which a tag line is added to various hymn titles (with frequent hilarious results), have a very long history.
11.1 One of the major strengths of Herls study is his inclusion in Appendix 4 of orders of worship found in church orders dating from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. There are over 170 liturgical orders here, presented in comparative tables. These liturgical collations alone represent hundreds of hours of work with primary sources (both locating them and culling the information from them), and they are collected nowhere else. The bibliography of these church orders alone represents a treasure-trove of information for scholars of early Lutheran liturgies. And in the tables, one can study not only the liturgical forms used in various places around Germany and their development over time, but can also trace the use of those liturgical elements, such as the sequence and the Elevation, that tended to disappear from Lutheran liturgies. One can also see the placement and number of hymns included. But curiously, the information provided by these church orders plays a somewhat minor role in Herls discussions. In his discussion of the visitation reports, for example, Herl does not compare information gleaned from the reports with the church orders for the towns visited to see how (or if) they correspond. In this respect there is a gap in the study, as these two great bodies of information—one prescriptive, the other descriptive—are never brought together. These liturgies, however, do not bear out Herls thesis that the congregation gradually took ownership of the liturgy (179). In Appendix 4, he indicates with a symbol to the left or right of the language indicator whether the liturgical element was sung by the choir or the congregation. The majority of elements, however, have no designation at all. And finally, in his notes to Appendix 4, Herl indicates that he has omitted most references to extra-liturgical sacred art music (including salutations) and organ music found in the sources. These omissions significantly alter the readers perception of the musical nature of the liturgy and the role of the choir, and would seem to constitute essential material for inclusion.
12.1 The hallmark of Lutheran liturgical development from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries was the change from a liturgy that was essentially choral to one that was essentially congregational (175). With this statement Herl opens the conclusion to his study. But this statement is questionable in several respects. First, it presumes that the rise of congregational singing concomitantly meant the near-complete elimination of the choirs role in the liturgy, something that the historical sources do not suggest happened until the later eighteenth century, under the influence of Rationalism. In order to make this claim, Herl must regard the elaborate musico-liturgical practices seen in early seventeenth-century Wolfenbüttel during the time of Praetorius, and a century later in Leipzig at the time of Kuhnau and Bach, as atypical examples in which churches rose to the occasion and develop[ed] a liturgy in which both choral and congregational music flourished, each enhancing the other (177). But much documentation survives to suggest that these practices represented the widespread norm between ca.1570 and ca.1750, particularly in town and city churches and in court chapels (most of which are excluded from the discussion). Second, his tabular presentations of actual orders of worship (in Appendices 3 and 4) do not support this assertion—there are simply too few liturgies from the eighteenth century represented there to make this argument. And third, many (including this reviewer) would contend that it is the flowering of sacred art music—both liturgical and extra-liturgical—and its continued presence in the liturgy, together with congregational song, that represents the true hallmark of Lutheran liturgy during this era.
12.2 In this study Joseph Herl has brought to light much new and valuable information regarding the role of music, particularly that of the congregation, in the liturgies of the Lutheran church during the first two and a half centuries of its existence. Many will find much that is very useful here, particularly the discussions of new liturgical forms, the growth of hymnals and their content, the development of organ accompaniment of hymns and other performance practices, the collection of liturgies in the appendices, as well as many other things. Herls new and critical look at these developments is refreshing, and his conclusions are largely on the mark (with the exceptions noted above). But his strongest contribution may well be his demonstration that congregational singing among Lutherans took root slowly, over a century or more, and that a singing congregation was not the norm from the Reformation on, as earlier scholars had asserted (and as is still widely believed by many scholars and lay Lutherans). Clearly Hans and Grethe were not singing Ein feste Burg with enthusiasm from the earliest years of the Reformation, but instead, had to be exhorted, cajoled, and otherwise encouraged for decades before they could be convinced to raise their voices in sacred song.
* Mary E. Frandsen (email@example.com) is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Notre Dame and studies sacred music, liturgical practices, and devotion in northern Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Her monograph, Crossing Confessional Boundaries: The Patronage of Italian Sacred Music in Seventeenth-Century Dresden, was published by Oxford University Press in 2006.
1 Agenda, das ist, Kyrchenordnung, wie sich die Pfarrherrn und Seelsorger in iren Ampten und diensten halten sollen (Leipzig: Wolrab, 1540), fols. 22r–26r.
2 The participation of the schoolboys (die Schuler) is indicated in the opening rubrics for the matins, vespers, and Sunday communion services (Agenda, fol. 22r–v).
3 In todays Lutheran churches, the congregation generally sings four of the five elements of the Ordinary (the Credo is usually spoken), the items of the Proper that remain in use, and all of the hymns, together with the choir (if one is present); the latter often performs only one composition alone at some point during the liturgy. Just as in the era under discussion, however, todays practices vary widely from church to church.
4 Leavers views are expressed in Lutheran Vespers as a Context for Music, in Church, Stage, and Studio: Music and its Contexts in Seventeenth-Century Germany, ed. Paul Walker (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1990), 143–61, esp. 145.
5 As Robin Leaver has also noted: see Grove Music Online, s.v. Lutheran Church Music, section 2: Origins and Consolidation (1523–80), (i) Liturgical Reforms (accessed 26 February 2006).
6 Agenda, fols. 22r–23v.
7 Agenda, fols. 25r–26r.
8 At Saturday vespers, these included the psalms (or hymns); during the Sunday communion service, these included the opening hymn as the Introit, the hymn after the Epistle, the creedal hymn, and hymns (including the German Sanctus) during the distribution of communion. At Sunday vespers, the congregation was to sing one or two psalms in either German or Latin, and the German Magnificat.
9 The situation is not quite as bleak as Herl indicates, however; two important sources in this area are not cited in his bibliography: Kathryn Ann Pohlmann Duffy, The Jena Choirbooks: the Music and the Liturgy of Pre-Reformation Saxony (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1994), and Jürgen Heidrich, Die deutschen Chorbücher aus der Hofkapelle Friedrichs des Weisen: ein Beitrag zur mitteldeutschen geistlichen Musikpraxis um 1500 (Baden-Baden: Koerner, 1993).
10 Anthony Ruff, OSB, A Millennium of Congregational Song, Pastoral Music 21, no. 3 (February/March 1997): 11–15, esp. 11.
11 See Grove Music Online, s.v. Rhau, Georg (by Victor Mattfeld) (accessed 26 February 2006). Walters collection was issued six times between 1525 and 1551.
12 Emil Sehling, Die Evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig: Reisland, 1904; reprint, Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1970) 2:71. Craig Westendorf lists Spruchmotetten by Stoltzer, Rab, Reusch, and others that were composed (and in some cases published) by and for Lutherans between 1525 and 1550, and such works were likely used in liturgies (in these early decades there is no clear evidence either way); The Textual and Musical Repertoire of the Spruchmotette (DMA diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987), 762–3.
13 Herl focuses his study on liturgies celebrated in public churches, and apparently for this reason excludes court chapels; thus the rich liturgical histories of Dresden, Liegnitz (now Legnica), Weissenfels, and other courts are not considered.
14 2 vols. in 7 parts (Halle: O. Hendel, 1906–18).
15 Christopher Brown, Singing the Gospel: Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the Reformation in Joachimsthal (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2001), 16. Herl discusses Browns criticisms on pp. 85–6. Brown's study has since appeared as Singing the Gospel: Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the Reformation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005.
16 Das deutsche Kirchenlied: Verzeichnis der Drucke von den Anfangen bis 1800, ed. Konrad Ameln, Markus Jenny, and Walther Lipphardt; RISM Series B/8, vols. 1–2 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1975–80).
17 Agenda, fol. 23v: Und darauff unter der Communion das Agnus Dei Latinisch sampt dem Deudschen gesang Jhesus Christus. Mag man auch den hundert und eilfften Psalm singen (Ich dancke dem Herrn von gantzem hertzen etc. wie der auch im Deudschen Gesangbüchlin stehet) nach dem der Communicanten viel oder wenig seind.
18 See, for example, Johannes Rautenstrauch, Luther und die Pflege der kirchlichen Musik in Sachsen (14.–19. Jahrhundert) (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1907; reprint, Hildesheim: Olms and Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1970), 179–82: Versuche zur Hebung des Gemeindegesanges.
19 See Joyce L. Irwin, Neither Voice nor Heart Alone: German Lutheran Theology of Music in the Age of the Baroque (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), 11–42.
20 In the pulpit service, the minister began with a praeloquium, after which a hymn was sung and the Lords Prayer was said before the sermon continued.
21 In this service, which was held in celebration of the departure of Swedish troops from Saxony after the Thirty Years War, psalm texts replaced both the Epistle and the Gospel. The setting of Ps. 136 was probably SWV 45, Schützs second setting of this psalm from the Psalmen Davids of 1619 (as suggested by Joshua Rifkin in The New Grove North European Baroque Masters [New York: W.W. Norton, 1985], 47, 114).
22 Both Nun lob, mein Seel and Es wolt uns Gott are hymns.
23 D-Dla OHMA N I Nr. I, Friedens= Denck= und Danck Feste, 1650–1721, fols. 2r–4v: Nachmals an stat des Evangelii der 68. Psalm verlesen, und dann Vocaliter und Instrumentaliter auch mit dem Trompeter Chor der 136. Psalm teutsch musiciret, darauf der Glaube mit der Gemeine gesungen, Nachmals die Predigt vom Herrn Oberhof Prediger Dr: Jacob Wellern gethan, beÿ welcher vorher und vor dem Vater Unser: Nun lob mein Seel den Herren, gesungen ward, der Text war aus dem 3. Capitel der Klag Lieder Jeremiae der 22. 23. und 24. Vers. Nach der Predigt und Beichte wurde die angeordnete Abkündigung und Gebeth verlesen, und vor dem Vater Unser, Es wolt Uns Gott gnädig seÿn, gesungen. Nach der Predigt sang ein Tenorist recitative folgende Wortte aus dem 66. Psalm. Darauf folget das Te Deum Laudamus, mit vollkömmlicher music, Trompeter und Heer Paucker. Hernach würde die verordnete Collect nebenst den Seegen, und zum Beschlüß, Erhalt Uns Herr beÿ deinem Wortt, gesungen.
24 In a preface from1607, Praetorius suggests that the lengthier of the chorale settings contained in that collection might be performed before or after the sermon, instead of Latin motets and concertos. Musae Sioniae, Teil V (1607), ed. Friedrich Blume and Hans Költzsch, Gesamtausgabe der musikalischen Werke von Michael Praetorius 5 (Wölfenbüttel: Möseler Verlag, 1971), xi: nicht eben allezeit im anfang der angehenden Versamblung do man die Psalmen mit der Gemein zu singen pfleget Sondern negst vor oder nach der Predigt an stadt lateinischer Muteten und Concerten musiciren könne. In 1619, Praetorius indicates that the more extensive works in that collection might be apportioned into three parts and performed after the Epistle, after the Gospel, and after the sermon during the morning service; see the preface to Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica (Wolfenbüttel, 1619), ed. Wilibald Gurlitt, Gesamtausgabe der musikalischen Werke von Michael Praetorius 17 (Wolfenbüttel: Möseler Verlag, 1971), xv: 21. In denen Concert-Gesängen so ziemlich lang und uber 100. Tempora begreiffen … kan man es füglich also anordnen: Daß man entweder die Sinfonien und Ritornellen alle oder etliche darvon aussenlest: Oder das man den Ersten Theil des Morgendes in der Kirchen nach der Epistel den Andern Theil nach dem Evangelio den 3. Theil nach der Predigt: Oder aber den gantzen Gesang in der Vesper an stadt des Magnificats Oder den Ersten Theil vor der Vesper Predigt den Andern und folgende Theile nach der Predigt musicire. Praetorius includes similar instructions in his 1621 Puericinium (ed. Max Schneider, Gesamtausgabe der musikalischen Werke von Michael Praetorius 19), vii. Many of these works are divided into two or three parts.
25 Herl also refers the reader to Irwins discussion of Großgebauer in Neither Voice nor Heart Alone.
26 Irwin also concludes that Großgebauers was a critique of contemporary musical styles, not a fundamental rejection of artistic music (Neither Voice nor Heart Alone, 88).
27 See Irwin, Neither Voice nor Heart Alone, 79–88.
28 With respect to the North German region, much of what Herl discusses here is treated in far greater detail in a recent article by Siegbert Rampe which appeared too late for inclusion in Herls study: Abendmusik oder Gottesdienst? Zur Funktion norddeutscher Orgelkompositionen des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, part 1, Die gottesdienstlichen Aufgaben der Organisten, Schütz-Jahrbuch 25 (2003): 7–70.
29 See Leaver, Lutheran Church Music, section 2, Origins and Consolidation.
30 Presumably the inclusion of the soprano line in the chorale books indicated that the organist was to include it in his realization of the continuo; Herl does not discuss the performance-practice implications of this melody plus continuo format.
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