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2. Liturgy and Reform: Northern German Convents in the Late Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

In northern Germany, from the 13th to the 15th centuries, mystical culture was primarily cultivated in women's communities. These communities form the focus of this chapter. Examining the spiritual sounding board that was the late-medieval liturgy enables us to discern the melody of the "new song", mysticism ("Sing to the Lord a new song", Is 42:10, Ps 97:1), in its broader context. This is particularly appropriate because the celebratory ritual of the church service frequently informed these women's mystical experience. The chapter summarizes formal and theological prerequisites important to an understanding of the medieval liturgy. It traces key features in the history of the liturgy and piety that provide the backdrop for medieval church worship. The chapter concentrates on the two central forms of worship, the liturgies of the Hours and of the mass, and concludes with two examples of celebrations held during the Church year.

Keywords: late-medieval liturgy; medieval church worship; mysticism; northern Germany



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