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Resounding Worship: Networks of Musical Devotion in the European Reformations, 1520-1648


In times of socio-political upheaval, reconstructed religious identities reshape ideas, communities, and culture. In early modern Europe, the Reformation shattered networks of belief. Reformers rebuilt communities by revising traditional forms of worship and their music. Plainchant was integral to their efforts. It was inexorably tied to liturgies, and its localised melodies crafted and communicated religious identities. Chant was especially essential when confronting powerful religious influencers: the saints. Lutherans reinterpreted saints as accessible, gendered exemplars of the well-ordered protestant life. The use of plainchant provided a link with the past, but its textual and melodic revision emphasised the devotional divide. Despite the crucial role of musical saints’ cults in rebuilding religious identities and networks, the extent of their influence is unknown. This project employs an innovative transregional and interconfessional approach to investigate the imposition, individuation, and intersection of identities in liturgies shared by Lutherans and Catholics. Using evidence from sermons, literature, and art, the chanted celebrations will be reintegrated into worship. The promotion of idealised femininities and masculinities in text and music will be examined in the five major Lutheran chant compendia. The adoption and adaptation of these identities will be explored in imported and local liturgical books used in the multicultural, heterodox trade centre of Tallinn. The oppositional interrelation of reshaped Catholic and Lutheran identities will be analysed in the Feast of the Visitation, which both groups revised. This research will demonstrate how musical saints’ cults refashioned identities and connected communities after the Reformation. It will thus enhance and benefit interdisciplinary studies of identity, worship, and reform. It will also provide new insights on the socio-political and cultural changes that reshaped Europe and still resound today.

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Sankt Olofsgatan 10 B
751 05 Uppsala
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 191 852,16