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Organ Singing and Hymn Playing


Per Högberg


Organ Singing and Hymn Playing. Performing Congregational Song

Dissertation 2013



The Lutheran church service tradition assigns important functions to the organ: in liturgical use, most of all as a leader, a source of inspiration, and a conversational partner in the congregation’s song. In our time, however, the congregational song repertoire is marked by pluralism; it spans styles and genres. This being the case, does the music historian Abraham Hülphers’ famous statement of 1773, ”thus organs’ use in Swedish Zion also ought to be praised/ So long as their pipes’ sound may guide the Church’s song” still possess validity for the performance of hymns today? The present Swedish Hymnal contains much material that has been included ever since our first official hymnal, the Carolingian hymnal of 1695. Thus, in spite of revisions made to language, melodies and harmonizations, there is still an uninterrupted and living tradition of congregational song in the liturgy of the Church of Sweden. Congregational song exhibits elements of conscious art, and at the same time engenders shared participation. This participation arises as that which is conscious of art (the text, the organ, and the trained organist) meets that which is unconscious of art (the singing congregation, the “folk”), and can itself be described as artistic beauty. The organ, its music, and its concert practice provide endless examples of conscious art. But how might shared participation in congregational song, which belongs to the perspective of the organ’s liturgical utility, be described in relation to the concept of conscious art? Using as a point of departure a description of the verticality and horizontality of congregational song, this dissertation seeks to formulate a pedagogical approach. Bringing the liturgical use perspective into focus in relation to congregational song is essential to formulating a notion of this song in terms of artistic beauty, which offers us a deepened understanding of that utility as tradition in motion, or motion in tradition.

This is thesis no 37 in the ArtMonitor dissertation series. 

ISBN: 978-91-979993-4-2


Ths dissertation is in swedish.

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The dissertation is e-published in GUPEA (Göteborgs universitets publikationer - Elektroniskt Arkiv). Download the dissertation

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