German Protestant churches are seeing a return to liturgical worship after centuries of eschewing ritual.
In a United Press International-based article (April 4), Uwe Siemon-Netto writes that in the homeland of the Lutheran Reformation, Protestant churches have long adopted a formal yet plain service, in part due to the influence of the Enlightenment. “By contrast, in Sweden, parts of Africa and America, Lutheran ministers often seem unabashedly Catholic. In many sanctuaries such as New York’s St. Peter’s church, Mass is celebrated colorfully, and with masses of incense on high holidays.”
The return of “smells and bells” in worship is evident at the Institute for Liturgical Science of the United Evangelical Church in Germany, where there is a conscious attempt to reconnect its future ministers with the church’s catholic heritage–a development “that has occurred in the United States years ago.”
Siemon-Netto adds that these changes are accompanied by an attempt to convince German Protestants away from being “mere consumers of sacred music,” often remaining seated and rarely singing during hymns, and to rediscover the joy of singing.