Ritual, Word and Sound
in the Context of International Lutheranism
On earth as it is in heaven! For Martin Luther, the earthly sounds of nature and popular song were equal partners in the proclamation of the Christian faith as well as the transcendent, heavenly sounds of the elaborate vocal polyphony of his time. His own songs were inspired by the Gregorian tradition, which surrounded him and became dear to him, as well as by the popular musical trends of his time. Musically proficient, Luther based his hymns on both sacred and catchy popular melodies, thus creating the foundation of the Protestant hymnal as a means of empowerment to sing Christian faith in one's own voice and in comprehensible words. At the same time, he opened the doors of the church wide to the transformation of these melodies into the ornate, theologically-inspired sonic architecture of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore Luther was establishing not only the hymnal, but also the essential building blocks of sacred music which have lasted to the present day.
The Global Achtliederbuch 2024 will be published on the 500th anniversary of the first Lutheran hymnal of 1524, following the historical development in the spirit of Luther, as a collection of essential hymns from lively congregations, not as a completed work, but as a sounding mirror of the diversity of Christian faith in the Lutheran tradition, and as an aid in everyday faith practice.
Of Pilgrimage, Freedom and Belonging is compiled by musicians and theologians from all seven regions of the Lutheran World Federation as well as an eighth group, comprised of people working in the field of ecumenical faith relations from a global perspective. Accompanying meetings, online sessions and the Lutheran World Federation Global Assembly in Krakow in 2023 flank the curation process.
Not least the COVID pandemic and the ongoing wars on all continents with their global consequences show us how interconnected the world is, and how important it is for us as Christians to hear and listen to each other in order to be alive as corpus christi. In order to listen to each other and to find a common sound for the Global Achtliederbuch 2024, we are exploring possibilities for the shape and sound of the Songbook 2024 with invited guests and as many as possible from the group of curators, based on the diverse experiences and expertise of each individual.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the support of the
international team of the LWF, the inspiring and substantial cooperation with the DNK/LWF Germany, and the Evangelische Akademie Sachsen-Anhalt e. V., which will also host our final conference in
June 2024 for this exciting joint endeavor.
May our senses awaken to everything earthly, heavenly, and the exciting resonant spaces in between.
Dr. Uwe Steinmetz
Initiator and director of the Global Achtliederbuch Project,
Liturgical Institute of the United Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Germany
at the University of Leipzig
Liturgiewissenschaftliches Institut der VELKD
bei der Theologischen Fakultät der Universität Leipzig,