Saturday, April 9, 2016

Worship in Sixteenth-Century Geneva

If you love and appreciate church history, this book will keep you interested, perhaps even excited. Author Karin Maag has brought together "primary sources, such as: images, liturgies, sermons, letters, eyewitness accounts of happenings, and Genevan consistory records" from the years 1541--64. Some of these sources are translated into English for the first time.  Called Lifting Hearts to the Lord, Worship with John Calvin in Sixteenth-Century Geneva, it is part of a series called The Church at Worship: Case Studies From Christian History. Published by Eerdmans, several of the books are already in print. There is one on worship where Jesus walked, worship in fourth century Jerusalem; another on sixth century Constantinople; and another on a Black Holiness Church. Editors for the series are Lester Ruth, Carrie Steenwyk, and John Witvliet. The plan is for at least three more in this series. One will be on worship with the Anaheim Vineyard Fellowship, and one on worship with Isaac Watts in Eighteenth-Century London, And one on worship with Argentine Baptists in the Mid-Twentieth Century. So better get ready as it looks like a fascinating, long read.

Karin Maag is director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies  at Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is also professor of history at Calvin College. For this book, Lifting Hearts to the Lord, she uses Geneva, Switzerland as a "case study for investigating the theology and practice of worship in the Reformation era, years 1541--1564." Maag offers both Calvin's contributions to "Reformation worship" and the voices of ordinary Genevans who expressed their feelings "as they navigated, debated, and even fought over the changes in worship" as a result of the Reformation.

The layout is interesting. There are maps and illustrations of people and churches, a helpful timeline, excerpts from Calvin's and others' opinions, sermons, and advice. And on almost every page, in red ink on the side margins there is small print advising readers on the situation, what's happening, what to expect, etc. For anyone interested in this special Reformation time, I count Maag's book a treasure.

Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks