Music in Early Lutheranism: Shaping the Tradition

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As liturgy became vernacular, the art of speech, or rhetoric, also became increasingly important. From the mid-sixteenth till the eighteenth century, rhetoric was central to education across Europe and particularly in Germany.

The Reformation - HISTORY

Rhetoric was taught in every Lateinschule and served as the basis for cultured speech, persuasion and organization of thoughts. Rhetorical patterns were applied to all aspects of evangelical worship as well; sermons, hymns and instrumental music were composed with rhetorical patterns in mind. The Stilus Fantasticus organ preludes by Tunder and Buxtehude followed rhetorical patterns. These improvisatory works might have been written-out improvisations echoing some rhetoric of the sermon of the day.

The Reformation also made the music of the Church accessible to all for the first time in western history; hymns were not only sung at the church but also at home. Lutheran families used hymns in their daily devotions and informal musical gatherings, called Hausmusik. As church music migrated outside of the walls of the Church, secular music also continued to infiltrate the House of God. Thus music also transformed churches into communal, artistic and performances venues.

Festival worship services became increasingly musical in step with the growing economic independence of these cities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

These lavishly musical worship services offered the full spectrum of all musical trends of the time, combining stile antico polyphony with the newest Italianate concerted music, strophic choral antiphons, congregational hymns, virtuosic organ interludes, versicles and psalms. The duties of Lutheran Cantor at high-profile churches were usually divided between providing music for worship services and also for some of the main musical offerings of the city. In addition to the weekly cantatas at St Thomas and St. Nicholas, J.

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Bach was in charge of many secular performances such as for birthdays of visiting royalty. Besides the many musical tasks and projects J. Bach successfully managed at Leipzig, he advertised these events via his subscription bulletins and raised extra cash for various music-related expenses.

These bulletins included the printed texts of upcoming cantata performances, and were regularly distributed to paying customers. He emancipated sacred music as much as the Christian Faith itself, and helped it become a monumental beacon of evangelism and of strengthening the faith and community of the Evangelical Church.

The music of great Lutheran composers, especially that of J. Bach, continues to define and shape Lutheran identity across the centuries and all nations. As you may already be aware, this fall our Sunday school students are studying Exodus. Recently, our year Looking forward to some great summer coffee hours after the early and late services this year? I know I This coming Sunday, Nov. The traffic is tough, the congregation lives scattered across New England, and getting to church on a Wednesday evening Good Friday Sermon March 29, Jonathan Wessler was selected unanimously by the congregation of First Lutheran Church of Boston to become its new Lutheran Essentials meets in the undercroft of the church on Wednesday evenings at 7pm.

You can reach the undercroft Approximate start time is pm. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lutherans took political leadership in various movements for national identity. Although many church leaders, including Lutherans, compromised with or promoted National Socialism , some opposed its tyranny; for example, the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer —45 was executed for plotting to overthrow Hitler.

That Ishmael Noko of Zimbabwe was appointed director of the Lutheran World Federation in indicates the growing significance of the mission churches for world Lutheranism.

Johannes Brenz — and Urbanus Rhegius — , both contemporaries of Luther, helped shape Reformation teaching. Luther's student Matthias Flacius Illyricus —75 composed the first Protestant hermeneutics study of the principles of biblical inter-pretation and pioneered Protestant church history. Martin Chemnitz —86 , Jakob Andreae —90 , and David Chytraeus — summarized the reformer's teaching in the Formula of Concord The so-called Erlangen school of the nineteenth century which included F. The work of Albrecht Ritschl —89 and Adolf von Harnack — represents an attempt to depart from traditional Lutheran theology in order to discuss the modern world on its own terms.

In the twentieth century reactions against their ideas came from professors in the Erlangen school, such as Werner Elert — and Paul Althaus — Lutheran theology prescribes no organizational structure. During the Reformation the church in Sweden retained bishops; most other territorial churches were governed by consistories government-appointed commissions for the administration of the church until the twentieth century, when some Lutheran churches adopted an episcopal form of government. Churches organized by immigrants or missionaries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, or elsewhere embrace a variety of governing approaches, including the autonomy of local congregations.

Lutheran reformers converted medieval Catholic churches with few, if any, changes in their structure or furnishings. The importance of proclaiming the Word of God makes the pulpit a central point of worship, and the altar and baptismal font are also significant because there God bestows life and forgiveness of sins through the Lord's Supper and baptism.

Because Lutherans emphasize music, the organ is an integral part of the church. Lutherans reject the idea that divine power is mediated through objects. Thus, they do not hold any objects to be sacred. Lutherans continued to follow the liturgical calendar of the medieval Catholic Church and its system of pericopes lessons read in Sunday worship , although the number of saint's days was drastically reduced to secondary celebrations of a few New Testament figures.

Music in Early Lutheranism

Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost anchor the church year, and there is a focus on Christ's suffering during Passion Week, with special attention to Good Friday. In the Festival of the Reformation 31 October was introduced. Lutherans have never prescribed modes of dress, and there are a variety of clerical vestments in Lutheran practice.

C. F. W. Walther - Music

In Sweden and in certain areas of Germany, the medieval vestments have continued to be used; in other territories pastors wear a robe similar to sixteenth-century academic garb, sometimes with clerical bands or the ruff collar. The liturgical revival, or return to ceremonial worship, in the twentieth century led to the widespread use of the cassock a full-length robe, usually black and the surplice a white outer garment and later the alb a long white robe as vestments, particularly in North America.

There are no special dietary practices in Lutheranism. Compulsory fasting was abolished during the Reformation, though Luther urged its pious use. Moderation in eating and drinking is expected of believers. Luther adapted the liturgy of the medieval Catholic Church and translated it into German.

Over the years Lutheran churches have used the core of this historical liturgy, translated into the vernacular, for their services, emphasizing two elements: the sermon and the Lord's Supper. Congregational hymn singing plays a significant role in worship. The Lutheran church practices infant baptism.


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Through baptism God establishes a relationship with a human being, leading him or her toward faith. Confirmation of adolescents affirms the baptismal gift of forgiveness of sins and serves as a person's entry into the Lutheran community. In the traditional Lutheran areas of Europe, all children were baptized. In churches organized elsewhere by immigrants or missionaries, membership has also been bestowed through baptism, but there is the expectation that the person will receive instruction in the faith, often on the basis of Luther's Small Catechism Since the twentieth century Lutheran mission societies and church-run missions have spread their message to non-Christians through radio, television, and printed materials, and they have attempted in many countries to train members for evangelism.

Luther insisted that only God's Word should be used to persuade those outside the accepted faith, although Lutheran rulers in the early modern period sent dissidents into exile. Lutherans were active in forming the interdenominational movements Faith and Order and Life and Work, which merged to form the World Council of Churches in The Lutheran World Federation negotiated a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" with the Roman Catholic Church , recognizing a broad consensus between the two churches, noting remaining differences, and lifting historic mutual condemnations.

Influenced by Luther's emphasis on God's Word and the fundamental place of the Bible in Christian practice, early Lutherans promoted literacy and education throughout central and northern Europe. In the nineteenth century, as industrialization brought poverty and other social and economic changes, the church leadership failed to meet the needs of urban workers in Europe. This led to a widespread "Inner Mission," focusing on charitable works, in Lutheran areas. Notable were German pastors Theodor Fliedner —64 and Johann Heinrich Wichern —81 , who worked in prisons, education, and hospital care.

In the twentieth century Lutherans led independence movements in Africa, in particular the former European colonies of Namibia South-West Africa and Tanzania Tanganyika. European and North American Lutherans have also provided leadership in movements for social justice.

Lutherans have founded their own groups, such as the North American organization Lutherans for Life, but they have often joined existing groups or worked with others to found organizations. Luther's teachings on marriage that it was the most honorable calling from God and the foundation of God's order for the world , his criticism of monasticism rejecting a higher calling for monks , and his own marriage in until he was a Catholic priest and unable to marry provided a new model for sixteenth-century Christians.

Parents continue to use Luther's Small Catechism in educating their children in the faith. There is significant disagreement about abortion and homosexuality within North American and European Lutheran churches. Elsewhere—in Africa and Asia, for example—Lutherans generally hold more conservative positions concerning these issues. Of particular concern has been the question of ordaining homosexual pastors and whether to bless same-sex relationships. Luther's gift for linguistic expression helped shape modern German, particularly through his translation of the Bible, and Lutherans have subsequently contributed to the national literature in various countries.

In Slovakia, for example, Ludovit Stur —56 and Josef Miloslav Hurban —88 established a literary language and produced works that helped form the country's emerging national identity. Since Lutheran children have learned the basics of their faith from Martin Luther's Small Catechism, a brief handbook for Christian living. Luther wrote the catechism to help the "common people, especially in the villages, [who] have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine.

It then answers basic questions about baptism, confession, and the Lord's Supper; provides instruction on daily prayers; and lists Bible verses summarizing the duties and responsibilities of Christians in everyday life. See Also Vol.