Articles

Lutherse liederen voor gereformeerde gelovigen. Beschrijving en poging tot duiding van een onopgemerkt gebleven Nederlands liedboekje uit 1566

  • Jaco van der Knijff

Abstract

Lutheran Hymns for the Reformed Faithful. A Description and Interpretation of a Previously Unnoticed Dutch Hymn Book from 1566. In 1897, church historian J.G.R. Acquoy from Leiden published an article in Archief voor Nederlandsche kerkgeschiedenis, in which he described five booklets that were recently found in the church tower of Boskoop, a tiny village close to Gouda. One of the booklets turned out to be a hymnbook dating back as far as 1566, containing psalms and hymns sung during open-air gatherings in The Netherlands. Based on some eighteenth century document it was assumed another songbook should exist: an enlarged reprint of the Boskoop hymnbook, published too in 1566. According to this source, this hymnbook included 38 psalms written by Utenhove, and nineteen hymns. The origin of the hymns, however, remained uncertain; the enlarged reprint apparently got lost. Surprisingly a copy was found in the British Library in London. Although the songbook is listed in a number of catalogues, there is no description whatsoever of its contents. This article analyses and discusses –for the first time– the contents of this sixteenth century hymnbook. It turns out the nineteen hymns are quite different from what hymnbook scholars had always assumed. They prove to be liturgical songs stemming from the Lutheran tradition, reprinted with reformed believers from the Calvinist tradition in mind. The London songbook clearly has a different focus compared to the Boskoop one. It is therefore questionable whether ‘London’ is indeed an enlarged reprint of ‘Boskoop’. The repeated suggestion that the London songbook would be a publication of Gillis van der Erven in Emden is also no longer tenable. There are good reasons to believe this songbook was printed by Harman Schinckel in Delft. It could even be the hitherto unidentified psalter the printer mentioned during his trial in 1568. By publishing the contents of the London songbook, an annoying gap in the hymnologic research is filled. More importantly, there now is a new source on the use of Lutheran hymns by Calvinists at the beginning of the Reformation in The Netherlands. This hymnbook also proves that initially the dividing lines between Calvinists and Lutherans were not as clear as they would turn out to be in later times. Finally, the statements of the first synods of the gereformeerde Kerk in The Netherlands against the singing of hymns find a new perspective: it is by no means excluded that the church leaders referred to songbooks like the London version from 1566.
Published
2014-12-01
Section
Articles