The Reformed Theology and Spirituality of Music: From the Reformation to the Present

Enschede, Netherlands, 13-15 May 2020

The First International Conference on Reformation Musical History and Theology (RMHT)

Call for Papers (2nd Round)​

We cordially invite researchers to submit proposals which engage with a range of methodologies and perspectives on the Reformed traditions of music in public worship and private devotion. Proposals may address, but need not be limited to, the following topics:

  • The early modern Reformed theology and spirituality of music: 1520s – 1700s
  • The Reformed practices of church music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
  • Music, devotion and identity in Reformed worship
  • Music, ethics and spirituality in Reformed churches
  • The Reformed tradition of music as prayer
  • Music, dance and education in Reformed churches
  • Singing, exile and piety in Reformed churches
  • Organ music in Reformed churches
  • Relationship between the Reformed practices of church music and its Lutheran counterpart
  • The Musical Impact of the Reformed churches on Catholic, Anglican and other Protestant church music
  • Church music in non-Western Reformed churches (Asia, Africa and Latin America)
  • the Reformed tradition of music: challenge, change and continuity

This conference reviews the Reformed theology and spirituality of music from the Reformation era to the present time. Whilst the Lutheran theology of music and musical culture have received significant attention from theologians and musicologists, its Reformed counterpart has often been misunderstood or neglected. The conventional negative portrait of the Reformed approach to music is deeply indebted to early seventeenth-century orthodox Lutherans’ polemical writings against contemporary Calvinism rather than in the Reformed writings on music per se. Yet the popular perception of Reformed theologians’ musical views (Buszin 1946; Söhngen 1967) remains almost intact despite the continuing reappraisals of their musical views (Scholes 1934; Garside 1951/1979/1982; Clive 1957; Reimann 1959; Macmillan 1966; Bisgrove 1969; Old 1975; De Jong 1979; Bruin & Heijting 1991; Aeschbacher 1992-93; Witvliet 1997; Hobbs 2004; Föllmi 2009; Grosse 2010; Lambert 2012; Kim 2015; Trocmé-Latter 2015; McDonald 2018). More recent scholarship has shed new light on the early Reformed theology of music, through examination of the aesthetics, ethics and metaphysics of music that underlie the Reformed theology of music. Yet such a review is mainly concerned with a single theologian’s writing on music or relevant musical work. Little attempt has thus been made to investigate the origin, formation and effects of the Reformed traditions of music as a whole, which played an integral part of public worship and private devotion that enhanced Christian spirituality and edification from the Reformation onward.     

The principal aim of this conference is to reassess the significance of the Reformed theology and spirituality of music in relation to education, ethics, liturgy and culture, by scrutinising Reformed musical discourses and practices that lie at the core of musical polemics and apologetics across Reformation Europe and thereafter. First, the conference reconsiders musical ideas of major Reformed theologians of the early modern period, including Bucer, Calvin, Martyr and Zwingli, in the light of contemporary religious climate and musical culture; second, how their ideas of music were implemented as ecclesiastical and social practices; and third, in what way they have evolved or adapted to various cultural and historical contexts of the Reformed churches worldwide over the last few centuries. Furthermore, the conference reassesses the impact of early-modern Reformed theology and spirituality of music upon modern Christian education, worship, and mission at large. The conference seeks not only to study the foundation of the Reformed theology and spirituality of music, but also to diagnose the musical state of modern Reformed churches accordingly.


We welcome both panels and individual papers.  Proposals for 20-minute papers with 10 minutes discussion as well as for round-table panel sessions of 60 mins or 90 mins are invited.  Proposals (panel: max. 500 words; individual paper: max. 250 words) and brief CVs (max. 100 words) should be submitted to the committee ( no later than 15 November 2019.


Selected papers will be published in a series of volumes edited by RMHT project team.

The official language of the conference is English.

For further information on the conference, please visit the conference website: