Music & Choirs
November 10, 1483—February 18, 1546 Eisleben, Germany
By the time you read this, I will have given the Children’s Sermon on October 27th, Reformation Sunday. As you may remember, I spoke about Martin Luther and music in the church. Through my research, I have learned many important things about Luther and the use of music in the church. Since I could not delve into too much detail in the children’s sermon, I have decided to give you some more information in this month’s Cross.
Martin Luther was born into a musical family. As a boy, he joined a boys' choir and became proficient with the flute (self-taught). Later, he became an Augustinian monk,
a Catholic religious order devoted to educational, missionary, and parish work.
Through his study of the Bible, he found that a person can only be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ; not through the purchase of indulgences. Indulgences could be purchased from the Catholic Church during Luther’s life-time in order to reduce the punishment due for your sins. Buy an indulgence for a loved one, and they would go to heaven and not burn in Hades.
Luther did not plan on splitting the Catholic Church, but for purpose of discussion, as we all know, he wrote a paper with ninety-five points and tacked it to the church door at Wittenberg. These points were written in Latin. Only intellectual people could read Latin at the time. So the theses were meant for the eyes of professional theologians. Other people had the 95 Theses re-printed in languages that the common people could read. These started the Protestant Reformation.
Luther became known in particular for three things:
? The doctrine of salvation by faith alone.
? The belief that Scripture should be translated into the people's language.
? The birth of congregational singing. He felt that music was of God, not of man. And he was determined to restore congregational singing in the German language to the Church.
So strong were his beliefs about music and worship that he wrote these shocking words: "Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our hearts, minds and spirits. A person who does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God does not deserve to be called a human being”.
His passionate beliefs led Luther to write both words and music for several hymns, including "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." This was sung by the Choir and Congregation on Reformation Sunday.
Luther's first hymnal was published in 1524. It contained eight hymns, four written by him. Later hymnals were also published for congregational use. He urged people to use the hymns at home and encouraged parochial schools to teach them to their students.
Working with skilled musicians, Luther also created new music for church choirs, organ, and other instruments during his life. And after his death in 1546, the first line of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was inscribed on his tomb.
In Christ, Mark
Chancel Choir - Anthems for the year are posted on the choir’s website at
Recordings of music performances are available on the Music website at: