The summer of 2011 has brought a large variety of cultural manifestations throughout Romania and it was almost like there was a contest between the cities regarding this particular aspect. Having known the city of Timisoara from last year’s Timorgelfest, of which I have written extensively, I was honored and happy to attend this year’s perfect blending between the new edition of Timorgelfest (the 11th edition) and the 26th Biennial Conference of the IAH (International Fellowship for Research in Hymnology – or, by its German title, Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnologie. The organ festival and the works of the Conference offered to the participants a wonderful alternation between music and paper presentations on the topic of church music as it is today and as it will be likely to evolve. The very topic of the conference was The Future of the Hymnbook.
A few words on the Festival organizers. This year, the Festival Timorgelfest, as well as the IAH Conference, have been organized with the help of the Ministry of Culture and National Patrimony, Local Council of Timisoara, the Banatul Philharmonic, West University of Timisoara and of Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnologie. The directors of the Festival are Prof. Dr. Felician Roşca and Prof. Dr. Walter Kindl – the Dean of the Faculty of Music in Timisoara. Generally, the process of organizing a Festival is a most difficult task and therefore I would like to state that few of the Festivals that I have attended had a similar organization as this one, especially in: punctuality, synchronization, professionalism and quality. The aforementioned qualities are the main attributes that characterize the Timorgelfest-IAH cultural manifestation. As I have already mentioned, I found it extremely useful and important that the organ festival blended with the IAH works, as many organ specialists from all over the world were present. Also, as the organ is the “church instrument” in many denominations, it was a good occasion to listen to different points of view and different approaches on what we can name “the queen of all musical instruments” – the organ.
There were people present from Germany, Austria, England, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Slovakia, Romania, and many other countries. Many of the guests had an active role in their churches – that of church musician, organist, composer of religious music, or of priest, reverend, monk. And I think that one of the best expressions of ecumenism (no matter how controversial the word may appear to some people) would be such a cultural encounter between the people of different churches, having one very important thing in common: the belief that music is the perfect instrument for the communication with God and for lifting the believers’ hearts to God. This idea, of course, has many facets. Each church denomination has a hymn book; these are, most of the times, actual keepers of the important traditions of the church, and at the same time – the instrument for educating people’s hearts and sensibilities, making them open to culture, to music, in particular; often we can observe that the members of the churches which practice congregational singing have a good musical ear, an improved memory, a good taste for classical music and the constant presence of joy in their hearts, as the singing activates a taste for happiness, as one member of the IAH Conference noticed, not to mention the healing powers of music that have been studied and implemented in the shape of music therapy for hundreds of years already.
In the opening ceremony of the Timorgelfest 2011 festival and the Congress of the European Hymnology Society, which took place on July 24, there were invited to speak several important guests and members of the festival organizers: the Rector of West University of Timisoara – Prof. Dr. Ioan Talpos, the President of the European Hymnology Society – Prof. Dr. Franz Karl Prassl, the Timis County Council – Constantin Ostaficiuc, the Mayor of Timisoara – Gheorghe Ciuhandru and the Representatives of different church denominations in Timisoara: His Grace Dr. Nicolae Corneanu – the Orthodox Archbishop, the Roman-Catholic Bishop Msgr. Dr.h.c. Martin Roos, and Pastor Mihai Maur. The opening ceremony continued with an Organ Concert and the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Unirii Square in Timisoara, the program of which consisted in Franz Liszt’s Works, interpreted by several organ students from Timisoara and from Budapest. I had the joy of meeting several of these students during my last visit in Timisoara – those studying with Prof. Dr. Felician Rosca: a wonderful group of young organ students, devoted, studious and with an immense love of music, intensively nourished by their professor (and it is the time for me to mention a most extraordinary event which took place during one of Felician Rosca’s concert tours in Italy, when he offered the “bis” part to one of his students, Minodora Luca, in a very important concert, thus giving her the opportunity to play in front of a large audience).
The Conference lectures and activities have been structured during 5 days, plus 2 extra-days dedicated to the visiting of historical places in Romania. I shall try to make a brief presentation of each day of the Conference, since everyday there was a blending between music and science and the lectures were particularly important for the understanding of the role of music in the quotidian life of a believer. In Romania, there are 18 recognized denominations, among which the Orthodox Church is dominant. However, in recent years, the idea of ecumenism and tolerance has gained a larger portion of people’s minds, and this is why the topic of this Conference deserves an increased attention. I shall present the main ideas of the lectures that were given in English, in order to make these important ideas know to the readers in Romania and also to a larger audience abroad.
The first day of the Conference, July 25, 2011, started by a lecture given by Erich Renhart from Graz, Austria: The New Hymnal – an E-Book? Thoughts on book history and media criticism. With the difficult topic of the e-book as a possible substitute for the “real book”, Erich Renhart invokes the possibility that one day the church hymnals shall be replaced by e-books readable on a gadget, on an app we have on the iphone, or on the big screens that we see very often in churches nowadays, even in the most conservative countries. The e-book allows us, for example, to collate hymns and prayers specifically for use at individual events. Gone are the days of leafing through the book. (…) Just imagine an e-book which is connected to a large database. This database stores thousands of church hymns from various centuries in a variety of languages. (…) It enables the fast and compact transfer of information and data – on just one USB stick for a number of books. Could it be that the e-book has only advantages? Erich Renhart’s answer is negative, and thus he provides his critical assessment. An electronic book is also dependent on a number of outside conditions, such a electricity supply and adequate lighting. (…) The use of the e-book can also lead to a creeping process of incapacitation. Everything is predetermined. I cannot even lead through a book and find the relevant page. The element of participatio actuosa is slowly diminishing. (…) From this point of view, the e-book, since it provides a virtual collection, and renders acute when is needed at a certain point in time, can actually be seen as historic-cultural regression compared to the real book. I find these observations very important, and also the final remarks of Prof. Renhart deserve our deepest attention: New songs need to be created. Where are today’s poets and their new creations? Where are their new compositions? Have the poets really withdrawn from church artistic creation? (…) New images need to be created. Where are the artists who can create images of that which language cannot gasp?
Prof. Dr. Felician Roşca from West University of Timisoara presented extensively the history of the neo-protestant churches in a lecture entitled Several historical reference points regarding the hymn books within the protestant churches in Romania. The historical background has been of high interest, expressing at the same time an objective vision upon the national history. Romania has undergone tragic periods during the time between the two World Wars, through the neo-fascist activities which were hostile to the Protestant churches, but especially during the tough communist period following the Second World War. Felician Roşca invited the guests to sing together a truly Romanian melody composed by George Enescu whose lyrics were written by the poet Florin Lăiu – the hymn “Spre slava Ta uniţi (For Your Glory United). The hymnology in neo-Protestant churches is a new, fresh topic even for the people in Romania, who, despite a well affirmed ecumenism, rarely go to the churches of other denominations in order to see what the other people believe, do, and sing (and that is a very unfortunate situation). The tradition of the common song in the neo-Protestant churches is rooted in the practices of the historical Protestant churches, but especially in the history of the Protestantism from America. (…) In Romania the significant contemporary representatives of the Reformation within the majority Romanian population are the neo-Protestant churches. While presenting the common song practices and the concepts of theology and musical education, Felician Roşca mentions the name of one of the most important musicologists and analysts of the Romanian neo-Protestant song – Mircea Valeriu Diaconescu. Throughout the years, this musicologist has identified the connections between the neo-Protestant hymnology and the reference sources of the American, Protestant and even Orthodox hymnology. A highly important topic is the presence of the young people and children is related to the presence of the young people and children in the neo-Protestant church. I shall detail this topic later on, but for now it is proper to meditate upon the fact that children and young people are no longer present in churches and the lack of interest for religion is an alarming phenomenon that has been subject to analysis throughout the Conference. The exception would be the neo-Protestant church. The attention paid to the young people in the church for the promotion of the common song is a practice used from the youngest ages. Within the confessional kindergartens, in the religious schools of every church there is a permanent concern regarding the education of the children and young people. Music is not used as a means of “attracting” them, but as an efficient means of religious education. (…) A powerful instrument which is very useful to the Christian educator is undoubtedly the hymn, the song. The historical experience of Christianity is a self-evident proof of the engraving power which the song has on conscience. Thus, the transmission of the most constant values of the world, God and the Scripture is a primary objective for the authors of the hymns. Prof. Dr. Felician Roşca’s conclusion is that through its permissive and interconfessional character, the Romanian hymnology returns after many years of distress to the cradle of the great European values. 
The musical part for the first day of the Conference / Festival consisted in the participation to (of) the Orthodox Vesper service at the Orthodox cathedral in Timisoara. It was the first contact with the orthodox music for several of the conference guests. The beauty of the Orthodox Cathedral is perhaps impossible to express through words. It was built between 1937 and 1940 and it is dedicated to the Three Holy Hierarchs, Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom. It has 11 towers, of which the central, and the highest, has a height of 96 meters.
It is home to many valuable religious objects such as old icons and early writings in Romanian, such as the 1648 Noul Testament de la Bălgrad („The New Testament of Bălgrad”) and the 1643 Cazania lui Varlaam („The Homiliary of Metropolitan Varlaam”). The building’s style is quite unusual among Romanian Orthodox buildings, although it is partly based on local religious tradition and partly on Byzantine architecture. The church’s interior and exterior paintings were created by the painter Atanasie Demian. The difficult period that followed the structure’s completion (see Romania during World War II) prevented the paintings from being finished on time, so this work went on for many years after World War II.
The second day of the Conference / Festival consisted in two lectures given in the morning and a few shorter ones in the afternoon, together with several very important music events. The lecture given by David Scott Hamnes from Trondheim, Norway, entitled A common heritage? Aspects of unified hymnody and the hymn tune in Scandinavia provided an insight into the hymnals in the Scandinavian region, together with some very interesting musical examples and a stress on the idea that the living praxis is what matters when it comes to church music. Congregational singing is the most important worshipping activity of the Christian community next to Eucharist. (…) Singing ritual songs is a natural part of the human persona, involving the whole person and affecting human memory – ideas similar to those that the Romanian composer Octavian Nemescu often states when it comes to music seen as a ritual. The corporate singing of hymns is undoubtedly of great value to humankind, and is often especially apparent at times of emotional distress. Singing engages at many different levels and awakens memories of many kinds. (…) Christ himself took part in the singing of hymns and the Psalter was integral to the worship of the early Church. (…) All societies have expressed forms of common worship acts; singing is possibly the most coherent and effective in which many forms of religious corporate unity may be experienced and expressed. Following David Hamnes’ considerations, perhaps we should meditate more on the importance of hymns incorporated in the education of our children, regardless of the denomination we belong to.
David Hamnes’ lecture was followed by the intervention of Priest Prof. Dr. Vasile Grăjdian in a lecture entitled Hymnals of the Romanian Orthodox Church. I was impressed by Father Grajdian’s mentioning several times the important role played by Paul Constantinescu in the creative section of orthodox church music: he considers Paul Constantinescu one of the ambassadors of the Orthodox music in Romania and abroad, and his creations remain a model and a key point in the Romanian musical culture. Father Grajdian also mentioned other important elements of the Orthodox culture. Some fundamental aspects of the liturgical chant of the Romanian Orthodox Church have been preserved from the Byzantine tradition up until present days: its vocal character (the rejection of the use of musical instruments) – and the predominantly monadic and modal character (the ochtoechos, the 8 ecclesiastical modes). Father Grăjdian mentioned that all the chant books and collections necessary for the Orthodox liturgy have been translated into Romanian and printed since the 16th Century; the entire process was completed in the 18th Century. The oldest manuscript of musical nature discovered in Romania is a Gospel lectionary in Greek from the 11th Century containing liturgical readings from the Holy Gospel with ekphonetic notation, now in Iassy. Extremely useful and important was also the extensive presentation of liturgical choir compositions of the last century and a half. The beginning is certainly marked by Ioan Cartu (1820-1875) who was commissioned in 1865 by the ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza to introduce harmonic choir singing in the parishes of the United Principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia), This continued with representative of Western influences such as Alexandru Flechtenmacher, Eduard Wachmann, George Stephănescu, and with representatives of Russian influences, but also of a Western nature, such as Isidor Vorobchievici, Gavriil Musicescu, Gheorghe Mandicevski. Father Grăjdian ended his presentation by inviting the conference guests to sing together the famous Orthodox hymn Iubi-te-voi Doamne (God, I will love thee), splitting the “volunteers” into two teams: some singing the drone note, some the melody, and the result was an impeccable interpretation of this hymn (as many other hymns shall be sung) and a first contact with the practice of Orthodox music.
The day continued with a few shorter presentations, among which Elena Maria Sorban – Transylvanian medieval plainchant poetry (a presentation during which the lecturer taught the audience how to read Gregorian transcriptions, a most useful exercise), the historian Adrian Neagu spoke about The Romanian religious hymn at the beginning of the 20th Century – between sacred and popular and Martti Laitinen presented the life and activity of Ilmari Krohn: The “Psalter” composed by Ilmari Krohn.
In the evening, the guests were invited to attend the Lutheran service at the Evangelical-Lutheran church in Timisoara, a very beautiful building that adds to the splendors of this city. For the dating of the edifice, some sources indicate 1831 (probably the year of the first project), but most sources indicate 1837 to 1839. The architectural style is classicist style. The façade’s Doric pilasters on two levels, the triangular fronton and the Ionic tower pilasters are significant. The tower’s roof, in a Neo-Baroque-style, was probably raised in 1902. The architect of this beautiful church is Anton Schmidt. The building of evangelical churches in Timişoara was possible only after Emperor Joseph II issued the Patent of Religious Tolerance in October 13, 1781.
The evangelical community today is composed of Germans, Hungarians, Romanians and Slovaks; the religious service is celebrated in all four languages. The Lutheran Community is currently small in Timişoara: about 400 people. The first Protestants arrived in the Banat were Germans (especially from Baden-Württemberg), at the end of the eighteenth century and early eighteenth century. Their number was not large, for the golden era of colonization in the Banat plain had passed, the good land being already occupied by Catholic settlers from previous waves. Later in the nineteenth century, Hungarian or Slovak evangelicals arrived in the Banat, and in urban centers such as Timisoara. Some Romanians have also become evangelical following mixed marriages.
After the Lutheran service, led by Jorgen Kjærgaard, the guests were invited to attend a choral concert of Romanian Orthodox chants in the Orthodox Cathedral. The small choir consisted of priests and deacons from the Church and they sung a few very familiar Orthodox songs from the Divine Liturgy repertoire, among which Pre Tine Te Lăudăm (We praise you) and Iubi-Te-voi Doamne (God, I will love thee) – that the guests already knew from Father Grajdian’s lecture in the morning.
The third day of the Conference, on July 27, was a bit shorter than the previous two due to an excursion that took place in the afternoon. The 3 presentations in the morning dealt with both theoretical and practical aspects of the hymn books. Alan Luff, from Cardiff, England, from his perspective and experience of Anglican priesthood, lectured about Renewing the Song – The Editors’ Contribution. He pointed out that there are several themes dealt with in the hymns, that are dealt with in the hymns, and of a high importance is that of Christian Unity. There are a number of hymns that deal with this, but sometimes, in the English repertoire at least, they may in fact have been written in the first place with the unity of the Anglican Church in mind. One such is “The church’s one foundation” written long before the ecumenical movement. (…) Issues of war and peace, of international disharmony, of world trade and world hunger do come up more often these days in our hymns, though the language needed adequately to deal with the subjects may often be more rough and less poetic than our editors would like to see. Alan Luff concluded that in the end, the matter is out of the hands of the editors. It is the wise and imaginative selection of the hymns that is at the heart of making a hymn book a means of revitalizing worship.
Rastislav Adamko a Catholic priest from Slovakia, lectured on The reception of new singings in the Catholic Church in Slovakia. The historical background of Slovakia was of a high interest, and was presented in the same manner that Father Grăjdian had previously done. The reception of the new musical repertoire is significantly influenced by the level of musical literacy of Slovak society. This is demonstrated in musical taste of contemporary Slovaks, especially of clergy at all hierarchical levels. (…) In the socialist period, the majority was not musically educated because on elementary level the musical education was neglected. There was lack of qualified teachers, lack of musical instruments or singing ensembles, so at music education lessons teachers taught what they did not manage to do at mathematics or Slovak. Simply, the music education was underestimated and belittled. (…) Concert halls are completely or half empty. The status lasts up to now. However, Rastislav Adamko draws a positive conclusion to his presentation of the present situation in Slovakia: just by patient explanation, positive attitude and with the support of the highest church hierarchy authorities it is possible gradually to get rid of accumulated prejudices and incorrect dogmas or habits.
An interactive, and at the same time profound and well articulated presentation, was given by Rev. Elisabeth Posthumus Meyjes from Epe, Netherlands. A short autobiography is given in the introductory section of the lecture. I have always been singing. As a baby, my mother tells me, with my toes curled in my cradle I would compete with the larch. As a little girl in church, I sang in the Sunday school and a solo every year at Christmas. As a youngster in a French choir in the Eglise Wallone in Amsterdam and in the Christian Student Body I went to camp with. As an adolescent in a hospital where I was trained to be a nurse I sang to counter all the tragedy and pain I was confronted with. And in Taizé I found a partner for life, singing. By inviting the guests to sing, Elisabeth Posthumus Meyjes leads two different exercises on the simple words of the hymn Lauda Relauda, performing it in rounds. Singing together creates a oneness. The number of singing people in the room becomes a single plural as soon as we tune in together. Singing with several individuals makes one body. This unity is larger than the sum of the individual voices. Theologically speaking the act of singing together where the participants have the experience of being uplifted is a moment of revelation of God. Why singing in rounds? This resulted in a beautiful polyphony. Elisabeth Posthumus Meyjes explains: The form of a round apparently as old as the fourteenth century, but perhaps older, in this example of praise to God, shows a new aspect. When we sing in multiple voices it is impossible (for me) to discern the different voices. The first emphasis starts to sound like a bell which is tolling.
The fourth day of the Conference, on the 28th of July, consisted in two lectures in the morning and a few shorter presentations in the afternoon. The day started with the lecture given by Jorgen Kjærgaard, Lutheran Pastor: Congregational Hymnal – Is there any sense in speaking of its future? Some considerations in a Scandinavian perspective. By pointing out that in both the Byzantine and Latin liturgy, song captures the very essence of the liturgical aims. Jorgen Kjærgaard explains that, since its invention, the Lutheran congregational hymn has been dependent on the mass media. (…) The Lutheran hymn is, in its essence, interpretation of the Bible, or in other words: a sung sermon! The Lutheran congregational hymn is meant to be an echo of the Gospel in the mouth and voice of the lay congregation. Also, Jorgen Kjærgaard stresses the conditions in which, in the present day, the church manifests itself. These are, in fact, the qualities and the malfunctions of the contemporary society. The cultural space in society is crowded / The diversity in the cultural content in society manifests itself in sub-cultural tendencies / The concept of cultural unity is disrupted / The impact of the mass media has expanded / Cultural objects have gained the character of merchandise / Utilitarism and Individualism / Neutrality of values or poly-valens / Mania of change and looseness in tradition – Project-/Event-culture. The conclusion arrived at by Jorgen Kjærgaard at the end of this lecture is a powerful, meaningful thought: The congregational hymnbook manifests a spiritual democracy that also implies responsibility for the theology of the church. Give it up, and the first steps will be taken towards liturgical, homiletic, confessional and theological anarchy or absolutism – or both!
Furthermore, Dr. Franz Metz, from Münich, lectured about The German Catholic Church hymn of the Germans in the Banat – presenting highly interesting information for the Romanian guests attending the Conference. In a historical overview, he explained the beginnings of the Catholic Church hymnody in Banat, the Danubian Swabian Hymns, the characteristics of the Church hymn in the Banat – with the important consideration that: one already knew as a child whether to sing the first or the second voice. There was an unwritten law among the people: a hymn becomes pretty when it can be sung in parts. As it was the second voice – indicated in the music as the Swabian third, the Bohemian third or the kitchen third – that really made the melody work. Of course there was a correspondingly slow tempo and the necessary feel for this music. In the Conclusion section of the lecture, Franz Metz states that: in order to stimulate this research in southern European countries, indeed, also in the Banat, it would make sense to ensure a worthy place within our European inheritance for this highly interesting cultural asset.
The day continued with five shorter presentations: Daleen Kruger on the e-hymnbook project of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, dr. Arthur Funk – Die Gesangbücher der griechisch-katolischen Kirchengemeinden des Banats, Richard Mailander – On the creation of Hymn section for the Gebet-und Gesangbuch, Jenni Urponen – Neuere finnische kirchengesangaufnahmen and ended with a presentation I made on a Romanian contemporary work – Salve Regina by Octavian Nemescu. I played the entire work for the conference guests, who listened with great attentiveness. I was honored and impressed by the attention they gave to Romanian contemporary music.
The musical part of the day was unusual for many guests since it took place in the Adventist Church in Timisoara, where an evening service and hymn festival were celebrated. The evening service represented a bouquet of extremely beautiful musical events – and I can make this statement even though I come from the realm of Bucharest’s musical life where almost every day one could attend a concert of some kind. Notwithstanding in the past few years I could attend religious services in all the Christian denominations; but I could never listen to Pachelbel’s Canon in D together with other songs performed by children, by string quartets and vocal quartets, soloists songs and congregational songs. I don’t know how many of our readers had the chance to see a group of 7-10 children who were so small that they were barely able to stand, singing in perfect attunement songs about God. The resultant rare moment of peace makes your soul soar and, truly, tears flow from your eyes. For what can be more beautiful than a child singing? I was also impressed by the young members of the string quartets (all of them –members of the Mehedinti family, an admirable thing when all the members of a family are playing a musical instrument) and the impeccable interpretation of the vocal quartet (well-controlled voices, precision and coordination – the elements that prove the experience of attentive singing and long rehearsals – the vocal quartet has sung the hymn Great the Lord. The guests were also enchanted by the Bells formation from Arad, conducted by Mariana Toma, a music group consisting of young and some very young, members. What we need to stress is that many young people and children are actively present in the divine service by means of music. In Romania – where the interest for music education is close to zero, where music is an optional or facultative class, one hour per week or less, here are children and adolescents who sing with great pleasure, enthusiasm and love in their worship of God as well as to demonstrate the splendor of human intelligence and sensibility in its noblest fruit: music.
The evening ended with the hymn festival – which consisted of a choral concert in the first part (the choir Laudae Cristae was conducted by Lucian Oniţă (I observed the perfect discipline of this choir, the precise singing and correct calibration of the sound) and of congregational singing in the second part, with the help of the conference members and guests. The organ accompaniment was sustained by Prof. Dr. Felician Roşca, an important member of the church.
It was obvious that this is a musicians’ church. All the congregational hymns were “read” at first sight by the guests, all the arrangements consisting in 4 part melodies and in a similar manner to that of the Madrigal choir exercises, when the members of the choir mixed in with the audience. It was a spontaneous demonstration of love and professionalism towards which God, I am sure, regarded with benevolence. An extraordinary moment was represented by the first-sight reading of the Aleluia hymnby Valeriu Burciu, a complex, polyphonic work, conducted by Felician Roşca and impeccably sung by all the participants. And I said to myself, if in the year 2011 there are still people who can read complicated polyphonic music at first sight, with sensitivity and love, then surely music and praying are synonymous.
The conference ended in the fifth day, on July 29th, with the lecture given by Angsar Franz: The idea of a unified hymnal. Theology, history, the present day, the future. The author explained the occurrence of the unified hymnal in the Catholic realm of several countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, detailing the Repertorio Nazionale Canti per la Liturgia. It has obviously been grasped that, in the realm of congregational singing, sensibility is called for and it cannot be replaced by directives. This is an important concept that should always be borne in our minds.
The portrait of a liturgical dancer. On such occasions, it is obvious that we grow fond of some particular people we have the chance to meet. Such a person is Emma-Elze Bongers. She started to study liturgical dances around 1991, during the IAH Conference at that time; after that, in every Conference that followed, there would be a liturgical dance. Between 1993 and 1994 she studied the liturgical dances in 11 countries, as they were integrated in the historical traditions. People are reluctant at first, when they hear about liturgical dance. Some have the impression that dancing is undoubtedly connected to letting the “bad energies” free, being superficial, being in a totally “non-sacred” realm. But those who have already tried the liturgical dance say that, when you dance, you experience an intense feeling of freedom, you are like a child that can do no harm, dancing comes in a natural way.
Emma-Elze Bongers has led many dance meditations throughout the world. Here we can offer a small insight into her extraordinary and fascinating world and we are looking forward to the possibility of dedicating an entire case-study to her work.
The last two days were dedicated to the exploration of several historical places in Romania in the nearby of Timisoara I was especially happy to be able to see the Historical site of Sarmizegetusa, a Romanian paradigm for the victory of history over time. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that people who cherish culture and religion so much have been brought here, to the very heart of Romania, and all of them agreed that rarely have they seen a more beautiful place. It was that moment when I was really proud to be a part of this country: no matter that others would say, it is a place worth living in. So much space, contradiction and beauty in one land, said a guest gazing through the bus window, as he had never in his life seen a flock of sheep. I would agree with that.
Quotations in italic type are taken from Erich Renhart: The New Hymnal – an E-Book? Thoughts on book history and media criticism, lecture given during the 26th Biennial IAH Conference, Timisoara, July 25, 2011
 Quotations in italic type are taken from Felician Roşca: Several historic reference points regarding the hymn books within the Protestant Churches in Romania, lecture given during the 26th Biennial IAH Conference, Timisoara, July 25, 2011
 David Scott Hamnes: A common heritage? Aspects of unified hymnody and the hymn tune in Scandinavia
 Vasile Grăjdian: Hymnals of the Romanian Orthodox Church
 Alan Luff: Renewing the Song – The Editors’ Contribution
 Rastislav Adamko: The reception of new singings in the Catholic Church in Slovakia
 Elisabeth Posthumus Meyjes: Lauda relauda Bouquet of sound from Deventer
 Jorgen Kjærgaard: Congregational hymnal – is there any sense in speaking of its future? Some considerations in a Scandinavian Perspective.
 Franz Metz: The German Catholic Church hymn of the Germans in the Banat
 Angsar Franz: The idea of a unified hymnal. Theology, history, the present day, the future