GROSSER GOTT, WIR LOBEN DICH
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The birth of Ignaz Franz (1719-1790) three hundred years ago, was commemorated in 2019. He was the writer of the German text of the hymn, Grosser Gott, wir loben dich. Two Afrikaans texts, based on this text, were published for the first time in an official hymnal of the Dutch Reformed churches in South Africa in 1978. It gained immediate popularity. The background to the German text of the hymn, its publication in various hymnals, a short discussion of the texts in the Afrikaans language, the background to the melody, different notations and the communicative role of the tune, are various aspects discussed in this article. The ongoing working of the hymn (Wirkungsgeschichte) in various contexts is then discussed and related to historic assumptions regarding ‘protestant’ and ‘catholic’, some of which still prevail in the thought of people, but which often go unnoticed. Showing how this particular hymn has crossed divides and functions as an ecumenical hymn par excellence, a plea is made that one-sided and dividing views should be reflected upon, set aside and that the ecumenical treasure of song should be promoted.