Belonging: Celebrating a Harmony of Difference

In his 1530 Apology of the Augsburg Confession Philipp Melanchthon describes the new reformation movement already in a way which can stand as well today for global Lutheranism: a mosaic of people “scattered throughout the whole world [here and there in the world, from the rising to the setting of the sun], who agree concerning the Gospel, and have the same Christ, the same Holy Ghost, and the same Sacraments, whether they have the same or different human traditions.”  Following Luther (Solus Christus), this mosaic of people, of “living stones” is united through the work of the Holy Spirit in its shared belief in Jesus Christ, “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 

The quest for unity within diversity, the sense of a global body of Christ rooted in a local cultural tradition builds the third stream of Christian identity formation and the third main chapter of collected music and liturgical elements in Lutheran Hymns and Rites 2024. In contrast to the open collection of pilgrimage and freedom songs, prayers and rites which are either elements to be integrated in Lutheran liturgies of worship or develop their meaning directly in response to their respective contemporary culture. Therefore, the focus of the third chapter is on the transformation of the common liturgical heritage of Lutheranism through a collection of new musical interpretations and arrangements of Martin Luther´s hymns inspired by diverse musical cultures and contemporary orders of worship with liturgical music from the seven regions of global Lutheranism.

A central analytical aspect for this section will be the way how liturgical renewal has simultaneously helped liturgical identity formation, how the sense of belonging is kept and inspiring for the local worshipping community through reformational processes.


From a sociological perspective, identity is a result of individual transformation(s). Transformation leads to a sharpened awareness of oneself, of a refined concept of identity. Personal identity is decisively shaped in confrontation with one's own unique biography, through socialization processes in the family and in confrontation with the cultural identities in society. In their interaction, cultural identities form the collective cultural memory of a society. Cultural identities also include music in liturgy and religiously inspired music outside of church contexts. In this way, music can become the joint formative element within church worship and also in daily life supporting the formation of religious identity. The emergence of a personal cultural identity in growing up from infancy to adulthood is to be understood as a continuous and dynamic act of enculturation, the imperceptible, unintentional growing into a culture, which at the same time forms a foundation on which the foundations of one's own cultural understanding can grow.  The prerequisite for personal processes of identity formation is full participation in the respective community and its rituals: the priesthood of all believers.



With regard to the formation of a Christian (Lutheran) identity, the focus is thus not on a static expression of being human, but on a fluid one: self-reflective in one's own narratives and attributions and dialogical with other people. Depending on the sociocultural context, it may be dominated by individual or collective notions of identity. The fluidity of this dynamic interplay between individual and collective identities excludes oppressive uniformity and enforced hierarchy and cultural assimilations to be successful, it is instead a dialogical growth process between the believing individuals and their chosen collective expression of how to worship together. Unity within a global body of Christ cannot be achieved by overcoming diversity through uniformity but by celebrating the harmony of difference within the vine and its branches.