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December 13, 2017
12 Reformation Hymns by Martin Luther
Reviewed by AFLC Parish Education
For many of us, it would be difficult to imagine a service at church that did not include singing music together. Yet at the time when Martin Luther was beginning the journey upon which the Reformation would follow, it was quite common. As noted in the introduction to 12 Reformation Hymns by Martin Luther, there was “very little congregational singing in the church service.” This change in the use of music that was brought about through the Reformation isn’t always an aspect of primary focus, but it is an important one, nonetheless.
Pastor Gordon Waterman presents in this historical booklet 12 hymns that Luther wrote as a means to encourage the use of music within the congregation. Luther emphasized that “it is good and God pleasing to sing hymns” and wanted “to see all the arts, especially music, used in the service of Him who gave and made them.” Within the hymns Luther wrote, he used a great deal of Scripture as the foundation. The lyrics were a means to not only express thankfulness and praise to God but also to teach and strengthen members of the body of Christ in their Christian faith.
For each hymn, Pastor Waterman provides brief but interesting historical introductions, which add more context and understanding to the lyrics and melodies. Since not all the hymns are set to melodies we may readily recognize, we are given the wonderful opportunity to learn “new” songs as Luther initially wrote them. The booklet gives helpful suggestions as to how to present and teach some of these unfamiliar hymns to the congregation.
This collection of hymns with rich, biblical lyrics, accompanied by historical backgrounds as well as Scripture and catechetical readings, can be a valuable devotional resource for individuals and congregations. Churches may want to highlight one hymn each month or use them altogether in a special service of Reformation hymns. Keeping them accessible in the church pews, choir loft, or church library throughout the year will encourage ongoing use of this beautiful but useful hymn booklet.
For nearly 500 years, our churches have been blessed with the hymns that Martin Luther wrote. This collection of 12 Reformation Hymns by Martin Luther is a wonderful way to enrich spiritual life by reintroducing some of those hymns to the church.
AFLC Parish Education
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