It is often said that Luther restored congregational singing. This is true, but he did more than that: Luther restored preaching to the congregation—a most appropriate activity for lay priests. “If, now, the congregation is to proclaim the divine truth, it must have a sermon worth preaching. This is the reason for the substantial…doctrinal content in many of the Reformation hymns.”
—P. J. Janson, “The Reason We Sing, Reformation and Revival 4.4 (Fall 1995), 19
Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s mentor, asked him once, “Luther, what happens if all this works, if you have your Reformation. What happens to the devotions, and to the pilgrimages, and to the relics, and to all the wonderful things of the Church; and to the marvelous, majestic liturgy, with all of its pomp and ceremony; all these things that we’ve grown up with and that we love so dearly and that are so close to our hearts? What will be left when you’re through?”
And Luther said, “Christ.”
—cited by Michael Horton
I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music, for she alone, after theology, can do what otherwise only theology can accomplish, namely, quiet and cheer up the soul of man, which is clear evidence that the devil, the originator of depressing worries and troubled thoughts, flees from the voice of music just as he flees from the words of theology.
The worship of the New Testament…is nothing else than song, praise, and thanksgiving. This is a unique song. God does not care for our sacrifices and works. He is satisfied with the sacrifice of praise. I have no one to sing and chant about but Christ, in whom alone I have everything. Him alone I proclaim, in Him alone I glory, for He has become my salvation, that is, my victory.
What should happen in this house of God is that our Lord Himself will speak to us through His holy Word, and we in turn will speak to Him with our prayers and songs of praise.
—Martin Luther (on the door into the Castle Church in Wittenberg, on the other side of which Luther posted his 95 Theses)
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.
God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.