Department of Musicology

Cultural and Social Reverberations of the Music of a Lutheran State Church within and without its Contexts

The project Cultural and Social Reverberations of the Music of a Lutheran State Church within and without its Contexts aims at a broader and deeper understanding of the peculiar aspects of music, literature and ecclesiastical learning connected to the long Swedish reformation process and its aftermath in the early modern period. Millions of strictly regulated ritual performances in Sweden c.1520-c.1800 codified a small number of liturgical melodies, which consequently became – and remained, to all intents and purposes – well-known to all Swedish subjects for centuries (regardless of whether or not they understood the Swedish language or the theological, social and cultural consequences of the texts relayed in this way). These melodies count as the most performed melodies in Sweden ever, and were vital factors in the nascent State and formal Church province of Sweden from the 1520s onwards, with rather different significance for different sub-groups in society.

By way of three different modes of performance, which were de facto (and sometimes the jure) monopolized by the Church in Sweden, these melodies prefigure what later became more established categories of performance, but which were unknown to most by the mid-sixteenth-century. The melodies studied in comprehensive case studies within the project are (i) the accentus formulae (the fixed models for plainchant of biblical texts in the Mass), (ii) chorale paraphrases of the Mass ordinary, and (iii) songs from the milieu of the diocese schools. Many of these are virtually unknown today, but the marks they have left in Swedish cultural consciousness and practice can be traced in literature, music, ecclesiastical ethnography, historical literacy, theological practice and in public discourse, well into the nineteenth century. 

Project coordinator: Prof. Mattias Lundberg
Funded by: Swedish Research Council
Starting: 2015