BEETHOVEN SE "ODE AAN DIE VREUGDE"
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Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”: symphony, political instrument and hymn. The text of “Ode to Joy” by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) was inspired by friendship, but with a broader focus: that of an encompassing community of people imbued with a spirit of benevolence and peace. The melody to which Beethoven set this text in his Ninth Symphony gained wide popularity and functioned in many political situations with the aim of bringing people together, promoting unity and encouraging peaceful coexistence. It was also used, however, to strengthen the separated and individual political identities of different groups. It being the anthem of the European Union shows that it is instrumentalised both ways. Its reception history reveals the contrasting contexts in which it once functioned and still functions. This shows that the melody has a certain quality of sound that has the ability to strengthen the ritual action and atmosphere in the various contexts in which it is used. Admittedly, it is difficult to define the ‘quality of sound’. It is also used in religious contexts, especially in English hymnody. In the hymnal of the Afrikaans Dutch Reformed Churches, it is used only once for a text based on 1 Corinthians 13. It thus functions strongly as a wedding song. In this article, it is argued that the melody can function well for a wedding song because it is so well known and forms a bridge between the broader public sphere and the ritual of public worship that merge for the ritual of marriage. Two new Afrikaans texts for weddings and the celebration of friendship are proposed for this melody.