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11. Religious Song and Devotional Culture in Northern Germany

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Chapter Summary

The late medieval era exhibits a rich variety of relationships between music and devotion. These relationships range from singing songs during meditation, meditation occurring within sacred plays, and harp-playing as a spiritual metaphor for meditations on Christ; prayer books containing musical notation and pictures of angels making music; musical meditation during the liturgy; and much more. In monastic circles, spiritual songs could be performed outwardly or inwardly; biblical and mystical models exist for both methods. In the late Middle Ages, private devotion gained considerable importance not only in monastic, but also in semi-religious and even lay circles. In the 15th century, monastic reform was carried out in northern Germany in the spirit of the Windesheim Congregation. It resulted in the spiritual and musical practices of the Devotio moderna becoming far more influential in northern German monasteries.

Keywords: Devotio moderna; late Middle Ages; monastic reform; musical meditation; northern Germany

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