I was chatting with a friend today. He thinks I'm obsessed with the Blessed Virgin. Fancy that. Actually, I was telling him that what is striking is how often and simply the great fathers of the 16th and 17th centuries speak of the Mother of God's perpetual virginity or the closed womb birth and such from the pulpit and in their other writings. To them it was just taken for granted.
Why was it taken for granted then, but not taken for granted now?
I don't know the answer for certain, but I have a hunch about what happened. It's this: the Churches of the Augsburg Confession retained Latin. That means that they didn't bother to translate the old Latin office hymns. They wrote new hymns in German, of course, but they just kept on singing the old hymns in Latin right alongside the new ones (though the Sequences, unlike the office hymns, were subject to frequent "correcta" - always with copious Scriptural annotations). And those hymns simply shaped their theological endeavor.
In the Magdeburg Book the hymn "Creator of the Stars of Night" is listed as being sung at Vespers throughout Adventtide. It is sung in Latin, of course, and - as throughout the book - Scriptural allusions are provided in the margins. So when in the third stanza they sang of the Lord proceeding from the "closed" Mother, the margin listed the reference to Ezekiel 44:2. They sang it every night at Vespers in Magdeburg during Advent! They grew up shaped by that. Where did Gerhard learn the allusion of Mary's virginity being typified in the burning bush, in Gideon's fleece, in Aaron's rod that budded? It was all in the hymnody! The LATIN hymnody. The hymnody they didn't translate and just kept using. UNTIL.
Until rationalism and pietism swept through the Lutheran Churches, and then Latin was the first thing axed. And suddenly all the hymns that had nurtured and sustained a way of reading and thinking about the Scriptures were no longer there. Only the post-Reformation hymns that had been composed in German largely remained. And it wasn't too long after this that we see a marked change in how the Scriptures themselves were being read and understood.
As I said, this is all Weedon's suppositions - I have yet to do all the "hard data work" as dear Dr. Nagel would call it - but I truly suspect it explains a LOT of what happened. Take up your old German Gesangbuch and look for the hymns that we regard as standard from the Latin. They're not there. It's a loss I think we've still not reckoned with, and it explains why Lutherans of the 21st century simply don't know how to DEAL with what their forebears in the faith simply took as axiomatic.