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German Protestant Psalm Adaptation c. 1517-1675: A Study in Functional Literature, by John Thomas Long

As part of the Reformation 2017 blog’s focus on the three topics Printing – Translating – Singing, a seminal doctoral dissertation on Reformation music has been made open access: the late John Thomas Long’s study of German Protestant Psalm Adaptation. Thanks go his brother David Long for giving his permission to digitise this important contribution to our knowledge of ‘Singing the Reformation’ and to David Wells, Prof. Emeritus of German Literature, who originally supervised the thesis and facilitated the contact. He writes about the author:

“John Thomas Long, the author of the dissertation “German Protestant Psalm Adaptation c. 1517-1675: A Study in Functional Literature”, was born on 5 October 1957 in Ballymena, Co. Antrim. After attending The Royal School Dungannon and Limavady Grammar School he enrolled at The Queen’s University of Belfast and in 1981 graduated with a First Class BA Honours degree in French and German. His PhD was awarded by Queen’s University on completion of the dissertation in 1986. In the same year he joined the teaching staff of Regent House Grammar School, Newtownards, Co. Down, where he spent his entire career until his regrettably early death on 2 November 2014.

Dr Long is remembered for his unfailing dedication to the academic, administrative, and social life of Regent House School. He became Head of Modern Languages in 1990 and Vice-Principal (Curriculum) in 2007. He was a naturally gifted teacher of French and German who would broaden the minds of his pupils far beyond examination requirements and attracted pupils to take A Level German through the quality of his teaching. His knowledge of France and Germany made him an invaluable asset on school trips abroad, when his sense of humour carried him through the usual situations dreaded by all teachers, besides those of a more specific nature familiar to any non-native modern linguist confronted with the layman’s expectation that professed familiarity with the foreign language extends ipso facto to a total knowledge of specialized vocabulary on every conceivable subject. His donation of a prize cup to Regent House School for distinction in A Level German reflects his chief passion, while his contribution to the promotion of modern languages extended more generally in Northern Ireland with his appointment as a Chief Examiner on the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment. Dr Long’s other interests included music and sport, and he was a committed Christian in the evangelical tradition whose faith was evident and central to his life.

It will be apparent to any reader of the dissertation that a major strength of Dr Long’s work lies in the unremitting acumen of his detailed textual analysis. While he himself suggests that previous engagement with his chosen texts may have been inhibited by their somewhat indeterminate position at the intersection of the three disciplines of literature, theology, and music, his own approach, with its productive resolution of the problem of interdisciplinarity, is rooted in his training as a modern linguist at a time when the heart of the discipline of modern languages was still seen to consist in a combination of grammatical rigour and historical literary scholarship.

The chief stimulus to making Dr Long’s dissertation publicly available on the British Library Ethos network is the fundamental insight that “the primary congregational function of psalm adaptation was established and the model given” by Martin Luther. The work may be viewed as an indication of the continuing importance of Luther and his Reformation successors at the time of the much-publicized Luther quincentenary. For this initiative thanks are especially due to Professor Henrike Lähnemann (University of Oxford) and Mrs Emma Huber (Taylor Institution Library).”