THE British Library has recently acquired a notable collection of texts of German religious songs of the mid-sixteenth century, contained in seventy-two separate contemporary publications bound in one volume (pressmark C. 175. i. 31 (1-72)).The Reformation in Germany gave a great impetus to vernacular literature and wasa period of prolific hymn- and song-writing. Many of the songs which poured from the presses quickly became extremely popular, some remaining so for centuries, the best being distinguished by directness and simplicity of expression and form, and often benefiting from the deliberate cross-fertilization of sacred and secular texts and melodies.It is not just nostalgia which leads us to see in many of these exemplars of a truly popular culture, such for example as the anonymous song Der geistliche Jager ('Es wolt ein Jagerjagen / wol in des himels thron' no. 30), poems of the greatest beauty.
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