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Singing the Gospel: Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the Reformation (Harvard Historical Studies) Hardcover – April 30, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0674017054 ISBN-10: 0674017056

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Editorial Reviews


All historians and scholars of music and worship will profit from the insights Christopher Boyd Brown provides into the way the Reformation affected the practice of religion in the Lutheran town of Joachimsthal: in the schools, the churches, the sermons, the homes, and the actions and convictions of specific men and women. A well-written and informative study. (Scott Hendrix, Princeton Theological Seminary)

In this engagingly written book, Brown argues that one vital means to the success of the Lutheran Reformation in implanting evangelical ideals and practices is to be found in the pervasive use, both in church and in the home, of Lutheran hymns. Gladly embraced by the laity, these hymns engendered what Brown calls 'a shared religious culture' that shaped and sustained Lutheran identity through some very difficult times. Singing the Gospel is an important, original contribution of interest to general readers as well as Reformation scholars. (Gerald Strauss, Emeritus, Indiana University)

Christopher Boyd Brown has investigated the Lutheran hymnic aspect of the town's history in this engaging study. Analyzing a range of sources, Brown makes a compelling case against those who have argued that the Lutheran Reformation failed "to create a new kind of devout Christian among the popular masses." (Paul Westermeyer Christian Century)

Brown's Singing the Gospel truly peels back the layers of one historical context in the age of the Reformation to show how important Lutheran hymns were to the spreading the Gospel. It is a unique and valuable study. (James L. Brauer Concordia Journal)

Christopher Boyd Brown's Singing the Gospel is a stimulating contribution to the discussion of popular religion and the role of music in the Lutheran Reformation...This book is an excellent example of sound interdisciplinary research embedded in a fascinating study of the history of one Lutheran town, appealing to historians, pedagogues, theologians, musicologists and general readers alike. (Alexandra Kess Ecclesiastical History)

Professional and lay readers have needed Brown's book--a judicious, detailed consideration of the use and penetration of Lutheran hymnody into the lives of early Lutherans based on a local study that traces exactly how pastors and teachers approached the process of "teaching" the Reformation--for a long time. Its argument: a sharp challenge to the thesis propounded a generation ago by Gerald Strauss about the "failure" of the Reformation, and, by extension, to scholars whose work supports it...Brown's effective organization, engaging prose, and transparent and exhaustive use of sources (which will facilitate scholars' evaluation of his evidence) recommend this book as an essential purchase not only for libraries but also for classrooms and private use--not unlike the hymnals its author analyzes. (Susan R. Boettcher Sixteenth Century Journal 2006-01-01)

This book is overflowing with...careful analysis...It should be read as an unusual story, told as truthfully as an idealized narrative can be, but undergirded by painstaking, skilful, and dedicated research. (Bartlett Butler H-Net Online 2006-10-31)

A great new book...Singing the Gospel challenges the prevailing view that Lutheranism failed to transform the homes and hearts of sixteenth-century Germany. (Paul T. McCain 2009-11-14)

About the Author

Christopher Boyd Brown is Assistant Professor of Church History, Boston University School of Theology.

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