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Hanna Rijken, Martin J.M. Hoondert, Marcel Barnard – ‘O Lord, Save the Queen…. or the King?’ Beyond Vernacular Liturgy in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands there is a popular practice of Anglican choral evensongs (outside the context of the Anglican Church), organised either as worship, a concert or as worship and a concert at the same time. The evensongs are performed either completely in English or partly in English, partly in Dutch. In this article the authors will explore for what reasons the English language as non-vernacular is used. Which qualities do participants attribute to the English language in evensongs in the Netherlands and how should these qualities be interpreted? The use of language will be explored as a possible indicator of transformation of religiosity. The main conclusion is that the English language is used because of the beauty of its sound, the ritual quality of using a non-vernacular, and its power to evoke an experience of sacrality and contrast. Participants, it is found, are critical of the traditional Reformed emphasis on words, and refer instead to unarticulated transcendental experiences.



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