Original Research - Special Collection: Kerkhervorming 1517-2017

Klinkende ruimte. Reformasie deur die kerklied

Elsabé Kloppers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 1 | a4561 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i1.4561 | © 2017 Elsabé Kloppers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2017 | Published: 29 September 2017

About the author(s)

Elsabé Kloppers, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


In the year 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is commemorated in countries all over the world. The Reformation was an ecclesiastical and theological renewal movement, but through congregational singing, the ideas of the Reformation spread rapidly through many countries. It was thus also a singing movement. The commemoration year offers an opportunity to explore the ecumenical possibilities of singing and to search for new perspectives. In this article, the exegesis of a hymn text provides the opportunity for a theological discussion on various dimensions of space opened up by worship. They are, among others, the space to meet God, to meet other people and to meet oneself; the space for God’s work; the space to live the faith; the space for memory (anamneses) and a space to get new perspectives – thus presenting the opportunity to ‘change space’. The space created by music is space for praising God, for proclaiming, hearing and believing God’s Word, together with other possibilities. In the hymn that is analysed, the six main spaces or areas of the church’s work within which music and singing could function, come into play. The Gattung, Liedpredigt, opens the possibility for sermons based on hymns – an important ‘use’ of hymns since the time of the Reformation. It is a possibility that should be emphasised anew in the commemoration year. The performative function of the hymn (the effect or functioning of a hymn) as it is experienced concretely in the performance (the singing of the hymn), is discussed briefly. A need for new sacred spaces and sacrality in spaces provides new space for traditional hymns and for the organ as an instrument traditionally associated with worship – provided they share the space with other instruments, fill the space with new colours of sound and allow for new forms of singing. The tradition should be re-interpreted constantly, to sound the faith anew in each space where it is voiced and heard.


Reformation; hymns; congregational singing; worship; sacred space; sounding space


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