Luther and Reformatory Ideas: Music and Song

Music was an important aspect of Luther’s theological reform programme, as his own writing of hymns shows. Hymns were a key tool in proclaiming the word of God and in teaching the congregation the gospel. In Luther’s eyes, music was an important part of church services.

For Luther music was a divine gift. Music mirrored God’s creation, and had remarkable effects. Luther believed that music could relieve negative states of mind and generate happiness. This created a close connection between music and theology. When people accepted the gospel’s message of salvation through Jesus, they became joyful, a state that for Luther was expressed in song. Faith tuned the mind, and music was the sensory and audible realisation of what the individual experienced in their own faith. As a social act, music was therefore a proclamation of faith.

The hymn was the primary form of Lutheran music. Singing hymns in their native language formed the basis for the active participation of the congregation in church services, and was also a central tool in the practice of religion at a more general level, like when worshipping at the home.