History > Music > Church
Church Music (Kirchenmusik)
Religious hymns are also an important part of the Volga German culture. It was the Protestant Volga Germans who early on produced the famous collection of religious songs entitled, Wolga Gesangbuch. By 1926, the Gesangbuch had gone into at least twenty-five printings and probably a few more since then as you may still purchase your own new copy today [1]. The book remains a collection of some 878 religious Christian hymns categorized by type but published without a single musical note. Many songs such as Nun danket alle Gott (“Now Thank We All Our God” - written by Martin Rinckart (1586-1649), were brought from the German homelands. Suggestions were given in the book as to authorship and which melody went with which text. The Volga Germans knew well many of these melodies by heart and sang them strongly day in and day out. For many Volga German emigrants, the Wolga Gesangbuch was one of the few possession they brought with them to the new world.

[1] Verlag der Lutherischen Buchhandlung, Martin-Luther-Weg 1, 29393 Gross Oesingen, Germany, Tel: 01149-5838-990-880.

Listen to the music
"Nun danket alle Gott"
(Now Thank We All Our God)
sung by Volga German descendants in Northern Colorado. (mp3 format - 2.3 MB)
Title page for the Wolga Gesangbuch published in Chicago, Illinois (1926).

A cover page from a hymanl titled: Christian music for the German Evangelical colonies on the Volga. Published in 1905 in Dorpat.
Courtesy of Angela Rice.