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  • Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Change and Continuity in Religious Practice
  • Frederick J. Mcginness
Karin Maag and John D. Witvliet , eds. Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Change and Continuity in Religious Practice. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004. xiii + 353 pp. index. illus. tbls. $60.00 (cl), $30.00 (pbk). ISBN: 0–268–03474–5 (cl), 0–268–03475–3 (pbk).

Offering more than its title suggests, this collection of eleven essays, primary texts, an introduction, and conclusion delves deeply into the transformation of liturgical and other religious practices from the Middle Ages to the early modern era. Focusing on the reformations of the Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Catholic confessions, these essays take us from Geneva to Sweden, England, the Low Countries, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire, illustrating the enormous impact of the Reformation on the men and women who experienced, often resisted, and sometimes orchestrated the changes that gave early modern Europe its confessional identities. The authors ask what changed and what continued from the pre-Reformation to the post-Reformation era. But they go beyond simplistic taxonomies by examining the complex processes wherein continuities within discontinuities (and vice versa) occurred in the often violent, sometimes subtle, transformations that gave birth to confessional Europe.

Margot Fassler's "Psalms and Prayers in Daily Devotion: A Fifteenth-Century Devotional Anthology from the Diocese of Rheims, Beinecke 757" explores an anthology of prayers with a Psalter to reconstruct how men and women before the [End Page 198] Reformation experienced God in the intimacy of private prayer, often during the Mass, where one's participation meant gazing upon the sacred species at its elevation. In a similar vein, Susan Felch explores "The Development of the English Prayer Book," finding that, despite major changes in production, uses and content, English prayer books remained widely popular long after Henry VIII. Robert Kingdon's "Worship in Geneva before and after the Reformation" illuminates the radical changes in civic and liturgical life, suggesting how resistant many Genevans were when made to quit private prayers ("mumbling") and apply themselves to hearing sermons. Yet reformations were not always so discontinuous. Frank Seen's "The Mass in Sweden: From Swedish to Latin?" sees changes to the traditional Latin Mass spreading slowly in Sweden for political reasons, as the use of some Latin in the liturgy held on. Bodo Nischan's "Becoming Protestants: Lutheran Altars or Reformed Communion Tables" draws attention to Calvinists who saw in Lutherans' retention of stone altars and other trappings an incomplete process of reformation, hardly Calvin's idea of "'spiritual worship' devoid of all material props and humanly devised ceremonies" (97) In "Water Surrounded by God's Word: The Diocese of Breslau as a Window into the Transformation of Baptism from the Medieval Period to the Reformation," Kent Burreson chronicles the Calvinists' elimination of medieval exorcisms from the Lutheran baptismal ritual to present baptism "as a sign of the reception of the children of believers into the kingdom of God through the covenant of God's grace" (234). Bryan Spinks's "Conservation and Innovation in Sixteenth-Century Marriage Rites" examines the drag on reforming marriages and funerals because of their deep roots in social and civic customs, but he does note changes. In Farel's Geneva, a couple would be married before a minister inside the church; among Roman Catholics after Trent, a priest was required for sacramental marriage.

Karin Maag's "Change and Continuity in Medieval and Early Modern Worship: The Practice of Worship in the Schools" explores the nexus between Reformation theology and education. Though prayers and a religious education mattered in all denominations, in Geneva boys were now taught to sing psalms, recite vernacular prayers, and listen to sermons. Music and art survived in their own ways. In "Sequences and Responsories: Continuities of Forms in Luther's Liturgical Provisions," Robin Leaver illustrates Luther's great debt to Catholic liturgical music in his translations of liturgical sequences and other Latin hymns into German. Henry Luttikhuizen's "The Art of Devotion in Haarlem Before and After the Introduction of Calvinism" suggests how random changes and continuities could be. Ironically, at Haarlem, where a large Catholic population...


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pp. 198-200
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Archived 2009
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