Liturgical re-enactments and the Reformation

16 Feb 2018

Half a century after Luther compiled his 95 Theses it is worth reminding ourselves of the significance of music in the widespread liturgical reforms of the 16th century. Naturally, there was little initial consensus on what was acceptable in church: in some places, choirs and organs fell silent; in others, polyphony thrived. In certain reformed liturgies, not even the congregation sang (although they participated in other ways). Yet the series of events that collectively became known as the Protestant Reformation had a profound effect on music—choral and instrumental—both during the 16th century and in the decades and centuries to follow. The year 2017, therefore, seems an appropriate time to reflect on how we, as musicologists and performers, have experienced and continue to experience the Reformation.