Neither Voice nor Heart Alone: German Lutheran Theology of Music in the Age of the Baroque

Neither Voice nor Heart Alone: German Lutheran Theology of Music in the Age of the Baroque

Neither Voice nor Heart Alone: German Lutheran Theology of Music in the Age of the Baroque

Neither Voice nor Heart Alone: German Lutheran Theology of Music in the Age of the Baroque

Excerpt

This scholarly study arose from a personal quest for a theological justification for the centrality of music in my own religious orientation. Phenomenological evidence from the world's religions demonstrated that the association of music and religion is nearly universal; whether in the form of simple chants or complex polyphony, music is present in all but a very small portion of the world's cultic forms, including those of Christianity. But its theoretical grounding has often been omitted or slighted in theological systems, and historical studies of church music have more to do with the evolution of musical forms than with the theological context in which the music was written and performed.

In the English-speaking world a few short books have been published on music and religion in the last forty years, but no serious academic journal and no scholarly society is directed toward exploring this connection. In German-speaking lands, on the other hand, the scholarly tradition of thoroughness has combined with a musical tradition of greatness to produce some lengthy systematic treatments. Winfried Kurzschenkel has brought together a wealth of thought on music from the different Christian traditions in Die theologische Bestimmung der Musik (Trier, 1971), but as a theological contribution Oskar Söhngen's Theologie der Musik (Kassel, 1967) is unsurpassed. Söhngen was the most systematic thinker of a generation of writers concerned with church music reform, from which the journal Musik und Kirche emanated and continues to provide an outlet for scholarly articles on church music, whether from a theological or a musicological perspective.

As a lover of German language and culture, I was happy to locate this arena for addressing my concerns; but as a non-Lutheran American Protestant I also found that these German Lutherans, such as Walter Blankenburg, Oskar Söhngen, Christhard Mahrenholz, and Friedrich Blume, worked within a religious and cultural context which I did not share. Their views of German church music history were indelibly influenced by the liturgical reform movement of the first half of the twentieth century, which aimed at a restoration of the role of music as it had been in the period between Luther and Bach.

One does not have to be a German Lutheran to be imbued with the idea that Luther and Bach represent the pinnacle of good church music: most American . . .

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