Historical Pictures of the Ev.-Luth. Divine Service: Hanover

Historical Pictures of the Ev.-Luth. Divine Service

A Documentation
by Helmut Schatz

English translation by Matthew Carver

Original PDF // Previous Installments // Donate to Pseudepigraphus


Market Church
2 Chasubles from the years 1697 and 1712. Kestner-Museum, Hanover.
Photographs, Fig. 18a, 19, 20, 21, 22: Kestner-Museum.
Photgraph, Fig. 18: Museum Norodowego, Stettin.

An endowment of chasubles was made to the Market Church in Hanover: “Two eucharistic vestments, one of red velvet, the other of green—which is remarkable, since they come from the protestant era and were still in use at the beginning of this century. The first bears the date 1697, the second was given to the church in 1712.” Mithoff, op. cit. (Fig. 19, 20, 21, 22)

And Bleibaum notes (op. cit., p. 80): “The clergy at St. Andrew’s Church (in Hildesheim) wore colored chasubles into the middle of the 18th century, and incense continued to be indispensible for the divine service at this parish until the end of the same century.” Salfeld, in the Jahrbuch des Gesellschaft für niedersächsische Kirchengeschichte, vol. 45 (1940): “And the pastor, who rightly proclaimed God’s Word according to the Bible and administered the Sacraments, was, despite his human deficiencies, an authority figure, and many things continued as they had formerly been. The old chasubles remained in use until the Thirty Years’ War. For example: The church accounts of the patronage parishes of the (evangelical) monastery of St. Michael in Lüneburg” contained inventory records of these churches (Dahlenburg, Bergen, Nahrendorf, Beerssen, Bienenbüttel, Munster, Hittbergen, Neetze, Wietzendorf, Gerdau). From all these inventories we see that the churches were in possession of many fine chasubles. And these were not museum pieces, but were employed, new ones being added to replace the old, worn-out ones. Two examples: For Dahlenburg it says: “1 white damask chasuble with a green crucifix in yellow along the back, with an entire image; 1 red velvet chasuble with a gold-colored crucifix in green and brown silk; 1 taffeta chasuble dyed red with a threefold crucifix entirely painted, which seems to us to be worked with golden roses; 1 black cloth chasuble with crucifix dyed red for Lent, 1 old brown chasuble embroidered with gold; 2 white linen [?] drelde chasubles, one with a red, fairly broad Arras cross, the with a red ochre crucifix on the front.” Gerdau: “5 chasubles old and new—in very good condition, with their albs.” The enumeration of chasubles with ecclesiastical furnishings happens as a matter of course, so that it would be somewhat strange if the churches which were not patronages of St. Michael’s had eliminated chasubles. We also read in the visitation protocols following the Thirty Years’ War, that in a few churches not among those named there was still “a chasuble in use now and then. (Eschede, 1668. Bröckel, 1664. Winsen-Aller, 1663. Hohne, 1678. Nieder Stöcken, 1685. Bergen, 1688. Hermannsburg, 1690. Beedenbostel, 1690. Wienhausen, 1691. Müden Aller, 1691.) These are the last echoes. Most were destroyed in the war. People became poor and no longer valued such non-essentials.” I inquired at these parishes whether any such vestment might perhaps be found in the museum. All responses were negative.

A Baroque chasuble from the St. John’s Church in Lüneburg is still extant (Fig. 23). The Clausthal Market Church “Zum Heiligen Geist” still houses the remnants of a chasuble noted in Piepkorn {citation?} as a donation from evangelical miners around 1577. The object in question here is the chasuble cross (Fig. 17). According to the information of the superintendent’s office, it was repurposed was a lectern hanging.

Fig. 17: Chasuble Cross from the 16th century, repurposed as parament in the Market Church “zum Heiligen Geist,” Clausthal-Zellerfeld. Photograph: Jobmann, Clausthal-Zellerfeld.

In the church at Salzhemmendorf (Hamelin-Pyrmont district) there is a predella from 1620, the remnant of an altar retable. In the carved cartouche: “with painted scene of the congregation being communed, notable are the two ministers, one in a black soutane [gown], the other wearing a chasuble (and alb).” Source: after Dehio, Handbuch der Deutschen Kunstdekmäler Bremen Niedersachsen (München, 1992). (Fig. 18)

Fig. 18: Detail from an altar predella from Salzhemmendorf. Photograph: Parish office of Salzhemmendorf.

The church of Otterndorf (district of Land Hadeln, Lower Saxony) is the source of this chasuble of red velvet from 1592 bearing the arms of the dukes of Saxony-Lauenburg. Henry III of Saxony-Lauenburg came from the cathedral chapter of Cologne, where he probably came under the influence of the evangelically minded Archbishop-Elector Friedrich von Wied (archbishop 1562–1567). Henry III became the first evangelical Archbishop of Bremen (1567-1585), bishop of Osnabrück in 1574, and of Paderborn in 1577. Otterndorf had been Lutheran since 1521. The image comes from the Kestner-Museum of Hanover, where this chasuble is preserved. (Fig. 18a; above, left)

A chasuble from the same period, very similar in other respects, comes from the church of Jacobshagen (Saatzig/Pommern district), now Dobrzany in the county of Stargard, Poland. Today this chasuble is at the Museum Narodowego in Stettin (Szczecin), which also supplies the photograph (Fig. 18b; above, right). On this image: “The following may serve as evidence contributing to the longevity of Catholic forms of worship and art in evangelical provinces after the Reformation.

In the antiquities museum in Stettin there is a red velvet chasuble from Jacobhagen which, according to an inscription, was prepared in 1592, long after the Reformation had been accomplished.

In the description of a journey which the Augsburger Philip Hainhöfer undertook in 1617 from Pomerania in order to deliver to Duke Philip II the famous “curiosity cabinet” [Kunstschrank] (now in the Berlin muesum of applied arts), he recounts that, among other points of interest in the castle church of Stettin, there was a wardrobe behind the altar in which hung the surplice and two velvet chasubles with embroidered crosses which the priests donned for Communion.

That the practice of using the Catholic chasuble for the celebration of the Supper continued in Stettin for more than a hundred years afterwards, and in all the churches of the city, is attested by a document from the magistrate of Stettin now deposited in the royal state archives, title II, section 1, no. 100: “Wegen Abschaffung einiger rituum exernorum in den lutherischen Kirchen, wobei wegen der zuverkaufenden Meßgewänder, Chorröcke und metallenen Leuchter [Concerning the elimination of certain external rites in the Lutheran churches, and the chasubles, surplices, and metal candlesticks to be sold] (1736).”

Fig. 19 and 20: Red chasuble from the Market Church of Hanover, dated 1697. Photograph: Kestner-Museum, Hanover.

Fig. 21 and 22: Green chasuble from the Market Church of Hanover, dated 1712. Photograph: Kestner-Museum, Hanover.

The territorial lord, Friedrich Wilhelm I, in possession of Stettin from 1720, being himself Reformed, took offense at the vestiges of the Catholic ritual which had remained particularly in the altar service, in the chanting of the Consecration, the use of eucharistic vestments, and the deployment of numerous candles, among other things, and decreed that all these things should be eliminated and the vestments and candlesticks auctioned off. The clergy, who, being strict Lutherans, did not sympathize with the king, and only complied with this order after military force (e.g.) was employed, put up the most strenuous resistance, but eventually, after protracted exchanges back and forth, were forced to aquiesce. Among the numerous vestments in question here were those which had only recently been produced or donated. The objection raised against this, that the holy vestments might be purchased by Jews who would then use them to perpetrate their mockery, was answered by removing the pearls, braids, and gold thread of the embroidery, and by auctioning the velvet and silk separately. From the proceeds, an assistance fund for widows and orphans of the clergy was formed. After the death of the king, his successor permitted, at the request of the clerical ministerium, a return to the earlier ritual, but the project foundered due to disagreement among the clergy. It was the younger members of the clergy which now refused to cooperate.” From: [Hugo Lemcke] Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler [des Regierungsbezrik] Stettin, vol. 1 ([L. Saunier,] 1900), p. 153.


H. W. H. Mithoff, Kunstdenkmale und Alterthümer im Hannoverschen, vol. 1: Fürstentum Calenberg (Hanover: Helwing, 1871).

Friedrich Bleibaum, Bildschnitzer-Familien des Hannoverschen und Hildesheimischen Barock (Strassburg: Heitz, 1924).

Wilhelm Rauls, “Vom Ornat in der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Landeskirche in Braunschweig,” in Jahrbuch des Geselleschaft für niedersächsische Kirchengeschichte, vol. 74 (1976).