Martin Luther believed deeply in the religious significance of music. His theology stressed the importance of the Bible and its study by the individual, and this is reflected in the music written and inspired by him. He sought to make written Scripture accessible to all through the hymns sung during worship. The Psalms, for instance, were all rendered into musical form by French and German Protestants by 1550 and are the basis of most early Reformation music. Moreover, Luther's concept of a priesthood of all believers found expression in his encouragement of congregational singing.
The spirit of the Reformation and the chorales of Martin Luther have played an influential role in music history. The text and melody of the "Reformation chorale," which J. S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn employed as the basis for a sacred cantata and a symphony, respectively, are from Luther's chorale "Ein feste Burg" (A mighty fortress). Other composers, including Giacomo Meyerbeer and Richard Wagner, also used this chorale in diverse musical settings. Luther's melody, simple and devotional in its essence, has served as creative inspiration for many composers and left a rich and varied legacy to Western music.
The introductory material about the texts originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.
Last modified April 10, 2014