IAH Meets in Denmark

IAH LogoThe Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnology (International Fellowship for Research in Hymnology) begins its biennial conference today in southern Denmark. I’m happy to be present as German-English translator.

The topics of this year’s conference is “Hymnody and Hymnology in Times of Transformation.”

IAH’s members are primarily from northern, central, and eastern Europe, with a few from Asia and Latin America (and the U.S.!). Ca. 70 are present at this gathering. Current board members are from Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Poland.

IAH’S focus is more academic than practical. The practical aspect is certainly present, but more in the sense of providing scholarly research for hymnal editing and reflecting at a high level upon the practice of the church than in the sense of “how-to” sessions. There is a salutary influence from fields as diverse as e.g. history, cultural studies, theology, philosophy, sociology, and literature.

Morning Prayer is held each day – once each Anglican, Reformed, Methodist, and Lutheran. At each conference Eucharist is celebrated twice – once Protestant and once Roman Catholic (for which I’m presiding). The multi-language hymnal Colours of Grace makes possible simultaneous singing in many languages.

Here are the titles of five key-notes to be delivered in German which I have translated into English:

  • Hymnology as Cultural Studies: A Study of the History of Reception and of Discourse-Analysis of Luther’s Hymn “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott [A Mighty Fortress Is Our God]
  • The Reception of Hymns of Luther in Taiwan
  • The Reception of the Spiritual Song [geistliches Lied] as an Object of Hymnology
  • The Hymns of Martin Luther in their German-Language Catholic Hymnal Reception
  • Musical Theology: Kierkegaard’s und Schleiermacher’s Philosophy of Music

Three keynotes to be delivered in English are:

  • “The Luther of Denmark” – N.F.S. Grundtvig, Reformer and Hymn Writer
  • The Lutheran Credo-hymn in Denmark – An Outline of its Reception During 500 Years
  • Hymnody in a Globalized Culture and Beyond the Sacred-Secular Dichotomy

More complete information, including speakers and their backgrounds, is found at the IAH conference website.

There are hymn sings, hymn festivals, and hymn-based concerts in the evenings. It begins tonight, in this 500th anniversary celebration of the beginning of the Reformation, with a concert: “Let Us Strike Up A New Hymn: The Life of Luther Mirrored in His Hymns.”

I’ve had one experience of Danish Lutheran worship – Sunday Eucharist yesterday morning – which was striking in its serious and contemplative spirit. I suppose some, though, might call it “waiting for Babette.” Speaking of feasts – Danish cuisine is excellent! I had not known that. At least it is at the Lutheran continuing education and retreat center at which we’re meeting, Refugium in Løgumkloster, Denmark, which is a lovely former pre-Reformation Cistercian monastery.



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