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English as a Sacred Language in German Evangelical Worship Music

  • Deborah JusticeEmail author
Reference work entry

Abstract

Protestantism has been in Germany since the Reformation, but over recent decades, a new strain of international evangelicalism has been challenging the country’s centuries-old religious institutions. Outside groups – and now their local German offshoots – are promoting an international evangelical aesthetic that is changing German Protestant worship. Rather than being an American post-WWII legacy, much of this new evangelicalism comes from transnational post-denominational groups with roots in the English-speaking world, such as Hillsong (originally based in Australia), Vineyard (based in the United States), and Campus Crusade for Christ (also US-based). The combination of new music, language, and theology has spurred a domino effect of interrelated changes: from causing Germans to increase their physical involvement in praise to changing the linguistics of worship. Although sermons are in German and the liturgical lingua franca is German, many of these new German congregations (substantial percentages of which are not fluent English speakers) draw roughly half of their praise songs from English-language sources and sing the songs in the original English. How does English-language music play a key role in this foreign style of Christianity being perceived as modern and desirable in Germany? What values does this linguistic blend promote? Based on field research in multiple Franconian congregations since 2009, this chapter suggests that English-language German worship practices hold modern, cosmopolitan cache while also reinforcing links to imagined communities of global evangelicalism. As such, this chapter explores the social and theological impact of evangelical English as a sacred language in native German congregations.

Keywords

Protestant Religion Evangelicalism Music Theology Germany English Sacred language 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Setnor School of MusicSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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