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  • Die Lieder des Evangelischen Gesangbuchs, Band. 1: Kirchenjahr und Gottesdienst (EG 1-269). Kommentar zu Entstehung, Text und Musik by Karl Christian Thust
  • Mark A. Peters
Die Lieder des Evangelischen Gesangbuchs, Band 1: Kirchenjahr und Gottesdienst (EG 1-269). Kommentar zu Entstehung, Text und Musik. By Karl Christian Thust. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2012. [484 p. ISBN 9783761822456. €39.95.] Appendix, glossary, bibliography.

Karl Christian Thust brings a wealth of experience as a pastor, church musician, and scholar to bear in this commentary on hymns of the Evangelisches Gesangbuch (Leip zig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1995), the principal hymnal used by the Lutheran Church in Germany. Designed as a companion volume for the Evangelisches Gesangbuch, Die Lieder des Evangelischen Gesangbuchs closely follows both the structure and content of the hymnal. The commentary simply mirrors the numbering of the Evangelisches Gesangbuch, making for ease of use as a companion volume to the hymnal.

This first commentary volume covers the first half of the Evangelisches Gesangbuch, with hymns for the church year (numbers 1–154, including sections for Advent, Christmas, New Year, Epiphany, Passion, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, special days, penitential days, and the end of the church year) and service music (numbers 155–269, including sections for procession and recession, liturgical songs, word of God, baptism and confirmation, Eucharist, confession, weddings, gathering and sending, and ecumenical songs). This will be followed by a second volume addressing the remaining hymns in the Evangelisches Gesangbuch, comprised of biblical songs (numbers 270–315) and other hymns under the title “Faith—Love—Hope” (numbers 316–535).

Die Lieder des Evangelischen Gesangbuchs serves well its stated principal audience of pastors, church musicians, and interested laypersons who are living with the hymns of the Evangelisches Gesangbuch week by week. Thust treats each hymn in detail, explaining the hymn’s history, reception, and uses in the liturgy, while providing insightful analyses of poetry, music, and theological content. The volume fulfills well its stated purpose to provide a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the hymns of the church:

Um sie besser verstehen und wertschätzen zu können, bedarf es des -halb theologischer Hintergrund infor -mationen und hilfreicher Hinweise auf die Zeitumstände der Entstehung, auf Sprache und Melodie, auch wegen des oft problematischen Gebrauchs be -kannter Kirchenlieder eines geschärften kritischen Blickes.

(p. 7)

Other than a brief foreword, a glossary, and a short bibliography, the bulk of the volume consists of commentary on each hymn individually. Thust’s analyses of both [End Page 436] text and music are detailed and insightful, based on his vast knowledge of hymnody and on extensive research. Thust employs similar categories of study throughout the volume, though not all categories are addressed for every hymn and he treats the order of the categories flexibly so that the flow of commentary for each hymn is clear. As expected, some hymns are treated in more detail than others, based, for example, on the length of hymn or the extent of historical detail available about it.

Thust employs the following categories in his commentary:

  • Entstehung: This section briefly provides the basic details of the hymn’s origin.

  • Inhalt: Often one of the longest sections of the commentary, Thust here provides an overview of the theological content of the hymn, followed by a stanza-by-stanza discussion of key words and phrases and of relationships to Bible verses or theological concepts.

  • Sprache: In this section, Thust focuses on poetic analysis of the hymn, including treatment of structure, meter, rhyme scheme, etcetera.

  • Melodie: Thust provides here a descriptive analysis of salient melodic features, including overall character, key/mode, structure, ambitus, points of climax, and relationship to other melodies, if any.

  • Rezeption: This section provides an introduction to compositional settings of the hymn, as well as to the hymn’s publication in other hymnals. The goal is to point the reader to key moments in the hymn’s reception, not to provide a comprehensive history of compositional settings or publication.

  • Verwendung: Thust offers suggestions for liturgical use, although this section is often either quite brief or left out altogether.

Thust’s goal in Die Lieder des Evangelischen Gesangbuchs is clearly to discuss each hymn on its own, as...


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