Episode 23 – Martin Luther’s Reformation of Hymnody and Liturgy

When Martin Luther first posted the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, he was driven by a deep concern for his congregation. This continued to be the primary driver of everything he did for his entire career as a reformer.

Luther’s concern for his congregation was expressed in many ways. He wrote sermons for his own congregation; he wrote guidelines for sermons for other pastors; he wrote devotionals.  Even when he wrote a theological treatise, his mind wasn’t ever very far from the regular-folk and what this would mean for them.

In this episode we look at how Luther used music.  In churchy terms, we call this Luther’s hymnody, the body of music that was written by Luther to communicate proper theology to the congregation.

This episode is released on Oct 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 theses. Happy Reformation Day, everyone!

Tower of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

We’re taking a break from Luther’s story at the Diet of Worms. Instead, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 theses, we’re going to focus this episode on the single subject that animated everything that Luther did in his struggles with the medieval Catholic Church – the congregation.

To tackle the entire issue of Luther’s concern for the congregation is too much for one episode, so we’re going to limit ourselves to Luther’s hymns, which were one of his favorite ways to communicate his theology to the common folk.

Neither of us really know much about music, so we’ve invited Chris Mowers, one of our congregation’s music experts at St. Paul Lutheran Church, to help us out.

Beer break!

Stan Bucrek, a member of St. Paul, provided the beer for our break. We asked Chris Mowers and Stan to help with this episode as a demonstration that Luther’s reforms of hymnody and liturgy were done with the congregation in mind.

The Pale Ale is
(Modified)  Cornerstone India Pale Ale:
ABV: 6.56%
Magnum, Amarillo,  Centennial and Cascade hops-
Was supposed to be an IPA, but the secondary hop addition was reduced to let malt not be overwhelmed by hops [I dislike it when the beer tastes like prairie grass]. Well balanced flavor and bite, with a well sustained head when poured.
Original Recipe from: AIH (Adventures in Home-Brewing) Ann Arbor, MI.

Fire Island Scotch Ale:
ABV: 5.51%
(Not related to New York’s Fire Island Brewing Co.)
Crystal and Chocolate malts, brown sugar &  Kent Golding hops –
Smooth, sweet and drinkable – A fall/winterish Ale with pleasant hints/notes resembling Scotch Whiskey sans actually barrel aging the beer.

Recipe from: James C. Whitely, Arbor Beer-making Supplies, East Islip, New York.

Both beers are brewed in 5 gallon batches and bottle aged.
The Pale Ale is from June of this year and the Scotch Ale was brewed in March.