Latin Hymns Reformed

George Fabricius

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Everyone knows that the Reformation opened the floodgates of German songwriting, transforming the hymn into communal song. No less astonishing, but much less remembered, is the early Lutherans’ tireless work at writing an entirely new corpus of Latin hymns. The Lutherans’ use of these new Latin hymns—along with edited traditional hymns, parts of the old Latin liturgy in church services, and the Latin-heavy humanistic education of their children—leads Ann Moss to speak of “Lutheranism’s bilingual culture” in her monograph on Latin hymns during the Reformation.

(Read more at the Davenant Institute…)

Painting the Fence

What Conservatives Can Learn from Progressives

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“Wherever possible I have broken with teaching tradition and sent kids down their separate paths to their own private truths . . . to be their own teachers and to make themselves the major text of their own education.” I can hardly imagine a more “progressive” plan than this, of the late John Taylor Gatto in his first book, Dumbing Us Down.

And yet Gatto elsewhere applies the label “progressive” not to himself, but to those who around the turn of the twentieth century reformed US public education into today’s public school system that represses learning. Who are the real progressives, then? Both, I would argue—but there is more than one type of progressive educator.

(Read more at the CiRCE Institute…)

Fretting Over Family Drama in Gnapheus’s Acolastus

Theology in Narrative

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Humanist drama as a medium for retelling Bible stories is one of the most fascinating genres of Latin literature of the Reformation. All over Europe Protestants and Catholics alike wrote biblical comedies and tragedies for their schools, each camp often using the other’s plays since in the first decades they rarely strayed from narrative into confessional statements. These plays aimed instead to teach good Latin style and to teach piety and virtue by example. If this sounds like a recipe for bland moralizing devoid of theology, we need only turn to the granddaddy of all humanist biblical plays to see that they can indeed explore the depths of God’s mysteries delightfully through story.

(Read more at the Davenant Institute…)

Singing Pictures: Georgette de Montenay’s Emblems

Truth in Poetry, Image, and Song

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Thanks to the work of E. J. Hutchinson, many of us are aware of Theodore Beza’s emblems. The enigmatic woodcuts and poetry of emblem books were also employed by less well-known Protestant writers, but no less vividly and even hauntingly, to picture life in light of God. Among these was Georgette de Montenay, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Navarre. Her emblems went through several editions in the decades after their publication in 1567, culminating in a 1619 polyglot edition which contains no fewer than eight versions of the text by various hands: the original French, two in Latin, and one each in Spanish, Italian, German, English, and Dutch. Evidently this recondite work was in high demand.

(Read more at the Davenant Institute…)

The Latin and Reformed Imagination

Our hearts lifted up in Nova Solyma

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“The Reformation … was more a song or a symphony than a system, more lyric than lecture,” claims Peter Matheson in The Imaginative World of the Reformation. Yet lectures and systems are likely what comes to mind when we think of the writings of the early Protestants, epitomized in the Latin theological tome. No doubt theological Latin deserves lots of attention, and we can be thankful that it is getting more of it. But we rarely notice the Latin songs and stories of the early Protestants, which can renew our devotion as much as their theology deepens our understanding.

(Read more at Mere Orthodoxy…)