Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Lutherans can't sing

together. These days we're having a musical style problem--our church (UALC) has four--but 200 years ago American Lutherans weren't even speaking the same language. Some Lutheran immigrants didn't have an English hymnal until the late 19th or early 20th century. Here's a very interesting history by Gracia Grindal from the archives of ICM SW Minn. WordAlone Newsletter
    "The first Lutherans in this country, those who would regard the Muhlenberg tradition as their own, what became the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), had been here for several generations when a new wave of immigrants from Germany, Sweden and Norway began landing on American shores. These Lutherans settled in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and later the Dakotas. When they got here, unused to the pluralism of America, they thought the old Lutherans had been theologically corrupted by their American context which they saw, perhaps, most clearly in their English hymnals with hymns by Watts and Wesley, which these immigrants did not recognize as Lutheran.

    The new immigrants did not speak English and needed hymnals in their own languages, not the English versions that members of the Muhlenberg tradition had prepared over the years. So the Germans of the Missouri Synod began producing their own materials in their own languages, as did the Ohio Synod, as did the Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Finns, Icelanders, and Slovakians. Read the whole article.

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