I have come across the usage of "high church" and "low church" in a context pertaining to England, as categorizing someone's religious outlook. How would one best translate this to German, recreating the connotations rather than the literal meaning?

I understand that due to the somewhat isolated nature of Britain and quirks of history, the Anglican Church(es?) occupy a somewhat unique situation in the European spectrum.

Wikipedia tells me:

"Low church", in an Anglican context, denotes the church's simplicity or Protestant emphasis, and "high church" denotes an emphasis on ritual or, later, Anglo-Catholicism.

Addition: The original story is generic enough to not refer to a particular church or even country: Some people discuss how a child should be brought up and it is mentioned that his religious upbringing should be "xxx church" rather than "yyy church". I understand that due to the peculiar nature of the term one could just reuse the English untranslated, but if at all possible I'd like a more native German term or phrase, as the original term would otherwise distract from the universality of the story. I could of course try for a list of attributes (as per the Wikipedia quote), but that is bound to make for a unwieldy construction...

  • It's hard to impossible to translate anything recreating connotations if the phenomenon does not exist in the target language. BTW "Low Church" article on WIkipedia has a link to German page which is called "Low Church".
    – Eller
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 13:33
  • 1
    Aparrently there is a "Hochkirchliche Beweung" de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochkirchliche_Bewegung (High Ecclesial Movement per Google's translation). This article states the opposite word as "Low Church": de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Church .
    – user151841
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 18:45
  • If it doesn't refer to the Anglican context, it may help to have some story-internal characterizations what kind of church or religious point of view these names are though to represent. Hochkirche, Volkskirche, hohe Kirche, niedere Kirche would be possible invented names, or more likely the different kind of churches could be named after some other kind of characteristic.
    – dirkt
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 9:04
  • Thanks for the term and link, @user151841. I think it's close to the answer I was looking for - I'd be glad to accept if you would post it as an answer.
    – frIT
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 14:11
  • I just took some German in high school-- I have nowhere near enough background to know what would make sense to a native speaker. I only posted it as additional information. So I don't feel confident enough to post it as an answer, because I really don't know what it would mean to a native speaker :/
    – user151841
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


I am pretty convinced the two denominations are too deeply intertwined with Anglican church history to have a direct counterpart in German.

German traditionally distinguishes between katholisch and evangelisch (protestants), the two main religious streams here, and "andere".

If you are looking into what could be called "level of orthodoxy" within these streams, you would maybe referring to orthodoxe Katholiken or pietistische Protestanten for persons that practice religion "by the book". That is the closest I can currently come up with, I think.

  • From the original piece, I came under the impression that it rather denoted (high church=) "formalistic, ritualistic, showy external display of religious tradition" versus (low church=) "sense of personal responsibility, inward conviction" - both leanings possible within the same (Church of England) denomination. I may be mistaken though.
    – frIT
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 15:06

One could raise a child streng/stramm/strikt gläubig/religiös/christlich/katholisch, erzkatholisch, (erz)konservativ or orthodox which would somewhat resemble High Church, but I’ve trouble finding an antonym which would match Low Church because locker/lose/lax seem unidiomatic – maybe weltlich/weltoffen, säkular or just liberal.

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