Second Symposium on Calvin’s Psalter by Aad Alblas

by Aad Alblas | Het ORGEL | Year 98 | (2002) | Issue 6

Aad Alblas Second Symposium on Calvin’s Psalter
Het ORGEL 98 (2002), nr. 6, 7-9 [summary]

The Johannes a Lasco-Library at Emden (Germany) has initiated a research project on the introduction of the Genevan Psalter in Germany and The Netherlands. The research is supervised by Prof. Dr. Eckhardt Grunewald (Oldenburg University [G]) and Dr. Jan R. Luth (Groningen University [NL]). Part of the project is a series of three symposia. The second of these took place recently.
Prof. Dr. Herman Selderhuis explained the success of the Psalter: reformed believers recognised the lot of David in their own. Dr Ralf George Czapla from Tübingen reported that Lutherans discussed whether the christological interpretation in some of Calvin’s Psalms was correct or not. Lars Kessner from Mainz showed that the German psalter of Ambrosius Lobwasser (1515-1585), also known as the ‘German Datheen’, was very popular among Lutherans. Dr. Rainer H. Jung from Kassel recalled the attempt of Philippe the Younger (1538-1600) to introduce the Genevan Psalter in Germany: he published the Psalter of Winnenberg in 1588.
Jan Utenhove (1520-1565) began publishing rhymed psalms in 1551 in London. Dr. Hans Beelen from Oldenburg demonstrated that Utenhove was inspired by the Genevan Psalter. Officially, the Dutch church decided to accept only the psalter of Petrus Datheen. Dr. Jan Luth stated that this psalter was not used in Utrecht, nor in the Eastern and Northern parts of The Netherlands in the 17th century; the churches were focused on German repertoire. With regard to the way the Datheen psalms were sung, Luth pointed out that rhythmic singing was accepted only with the greatest hesitation; even today several congregations still sing iso-rhythmically.
Psalmbook collector Gert Jan Buitink closed the symposium by asking how Calvinistic Calvin himself actually had been: initially, he had accepted the ‘Salutation Angelique’ in his publications of psalms. Dutch ‘experts’, however, reacted strongly when ‘Ave Maria’ was sung at the recent wedding of Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima.