Erik de Boer (Theologische Universiteit Kampen, The Netherlands)

"Prayer, Prophecy and Music in the Reformed tradition against the background of Calvin’s exegesis of the prophets of Israel"

Erik de Boer (1957) studied theology in Kampen and in Tübingen with prof. Heiko Oberman at the Institut für Spätmittelalter und Reformation. He defended his dissertation on John Calvin’s sermons on the prophet Ezekiel at the University of Geneva. After serving as minister in the Reformed Churches for twenty five years, he is now professor of Church History. He just ended a period of ten years as extraordinary professor in the History of the Reformation at VU University Amsterdam. In Kampen the focus of his research plan is on the program Religious Life and Ecclesial Practice: Europe and the Netherlands, primarily on confession and Church order in the 16th century. Related to this he is also engaged in a cooperation with PThU Amsterdam in a project on the liturgical forms of the 16th century: sources, editions, practice (involving 4-5 PhD candidates). He intends to publish an English language monograph on Dutchmen (like Joannes Anastasius) in the Palatinate of the 16th century and also remains committed to the critical edition of works by Jean Calvin. Key publications are:

  • The critical edition of: Jean Calvin, Congrégations et disputations, ed. Erik Alexander de Boer [Ioannis Calvini opera denuo recognita, Series: Varia, vol. VII/1 (Genève: Librairie Droz, 2014).

  • E.A. de Boer, The Genevan School of the Prophets. The congrégations of the Company of Pastors and its Influence in 16th Century Europe [Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance, vol 513] (Genève: Librairie Droz, 2012).

Karin Maag is the Director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She obtained her PhD from the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland and is the author, editor, or translator of numerous books and articles, including most recently Lifting Hearts to the Lord: Worship with John Calvin in Sixteenth-Century Geneva (Eerdmans, 2016) and "A Debated Office: Deacons in the Huguenot Church, 1560-1660" in Karen Spierling, Erik de Boer and R. Ward Holder, eds. Emancipating Calvin: Culture and Confessional Identity in Francophone Reformed Communities (Leiden: Brill, 2018). Her current research projects include a comparative overview of worship practices in the Reformation era and a study of the Genevan pastor Simon Goulart.

Ian Hazlett (University of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.)

"Popular singing of high theology – the example of Reformation Scotland"

This talk will consist of reflections on the relationship between the groundbreaking theology of the Reformation and popular singing, with sixteenth-century Scotland in mind. The focus will be on how lay people of both genders, all ages and classes appropriated, expressed and disseminated new or recovered doctrines in song, whether beyond church walls or in the context of Reformed worship. Two general aspects and phases will be considered. First, the use of the medium of ballads and folksongs in the Scots vernacular to propagate Lutheran ideas in the decades before the official Reformation of 1560. They reflected the new wave of religious ideas, a transformed piety, and satire of the old faith. Second, since the worship of the new Scottish Kirk followed Genevan rather than Wittenberg liturgical norms, the use of psalmody, partly as the exclusive vehicle of congregational praise and partly expressing communal solidarity with the covenanted People of Israel, will be highlighted. The paradox will then be pointed out that while the Scottish Reformation in the name of religious “purity” rejected instrumental music, hymns and choirs in church worship (designated therefore as “Calvinist,” “puritan,” prohibitive and austere), people of all sorts and ages were, however, enabled (collectively and individually) to vocalize and sing their basic faith formally and informally in a way unheard of previously. Thereby they internalized their religion and actualized it in the world in a new way with the musical aid of melody and harmony in their own voices – in antiphonal response to the voice of God, as it were.

Karin Maag (H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies, Calvin University, U.S.A.)

​"Why we sing: Theological and worship-related insights from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Psalter prefaces"

Beginning in the sixteenth century, Reformed Protestants produced printed collections of metrical psalms. These volumes proved immensely popular both for worship at church and family devotions at home. Although the Genevan Psalter is the most famous example, Reformed churches across Europe invested significant time and money in versifying the Psalms and setting them to music in a wide range of languages. This presentation will focus on a relatively understudied feature of these Psalters, namely their prefaces, in which Reformers, versifiers, composers, and printers explained why these works were important and how they were to be used.

Ian Hazlett is Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Theology & Religious Studies Section, University of Glasgow.

Grantley McDonald is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and leader of the FWF research project The court chapel of Maximilian I: between art and politics at the University of Vienna. He has been one of the editors of the Verzeichnis deutscher Musikdrucke (University of Salzburg) since its inception in 2012. He holds doctoral degrees in musicology (Melbourne, 2002) and history (Leiden, 2011). Grantley’s research has been distinguished with prizes from the Australian Academy of the Humanities (Canberra) and the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation (Amsterdam). He is author of Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Marsilio Ficino in Germany, from Renaissance to Enlightenment: a Reception History (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 2013), and co-editor (with Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl and Elisabeth Giselbrecht) of Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands (London: Routledge, 2018). He is also active as a performing musician.

In Eastern Europe, the Reformed church developed in some unexpected directions. In Poland and Hungary, some Reformed theologians, inspired both by Erasmus’ critical work on the New Testament and by the Protestant instinct to deny anything not explicitly expressed in the Scriptures, rejected the doctrine of the Trinity as a post-apostolic development in Christian thought. Some of these Antitrinitarians organised into distinct communities which developed their own versions of the typical means through which Reformed communities inculcated doctrine, namely catechism and psalter. In this lecture I will explore the psalmody and catechesis of the Antitrinitarian Reformed communities; the ways in which Reformed Antitrinitarian communities employed these two indispensable means for communicating doctrinal distinctiveness and uniformity can illuminate the use of such means in the broader Reformed tradition.