”What is a Singstunde?”
Moravians have long been renowned for their love of congregational singing and their practice of letting hymns and liturgies reveal their theology. This heritage is carried on in the Singstunde. Literally translated from German as “hour of singing,” the Singstunde is a service consisting almost entirely of hymns, sung by the congregation — more specifically, hymn stanzas carefully chosen to develop a theme.
Most Moravians in the 18th and early 19th century had several hundred hymn stanzas committed to memory. Thus executing a Singstunde was simple. The pastor would select stanzas from many different hymns, place them in order, and the service would proceed without printed program or announcement. The pastor would simply begin singing a stanza, and the congregation joined in, by memory. Upon conclusion of that verse, the pastor began another, then another; the theme of the service was thus revealed through the selected texts.
Holding a Singstunde today is necessarily different, as the participants do not all have the same hymn stanzas memorized. Often now the specific hymn stanzas are printed in a bulletin, so that we still avoid the “page-flipping” from one hymn to another; and still often just one or two stanzas of a hymn are used. Hymns are also often interspersed with Scripture readings and anthems. The purpose remains the same: the revelation of a theme or concept, through carefully-chosen and ordered texts, sung by the entire assembly. Each person becomes part of the message, and messenger to his/her neighbors, as well as recipient.
In fact, the musical structure of two beloved Moravian services are outgrowths of the Singstunde: our lovefeasts, and our way of celebrating Holy Communion. For both, the purpose remains the same; the revelation of a theme or concept, through carefully-chosen and ordered texts, sung by the entire assembly.
Odes, Orders of Service, Bulletins, Programs, etc. (send us an email for many more examples or advice)
- General Lovefeast outline
- Stewardship Lovefeast example
- Mission Lovefeast example
- Lovefeast example from Winter Park FL
- Singstunde: The Lord’s Prayer
- Singstunde: Celebrating the Essentials of the Moravian Faith
- Resources for the Moravian Church may be found HERE.
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