A Unique Song

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.

— martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah

Eastertide (6)

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands,
And brings us life from Heaven.
Wherefore let us joyful be,
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of Alleluia! Alleluia!

No son of man could conquer Death,
Such mischief sin had wrought us,
For innocence dwelt not on earth,
And therefore Death had brought us
Into thralldom from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And kept us in his bondage. Alleluia!

But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
To our low state descended,
The cause of Death He has undone,
His power forever ended,
Ruined all his right and claim
And left him nothing but the name,
His sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
Stripped of power, no more it reigns,
An empty form alone remains
Death’s sting is lost forever! Alleluia!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, Death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia!

So let us keep the festival
Where to the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended! Alleluia!

Then let us feast this Easter day
On the true Bread of Heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and wicked leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;
He is our Meat and Drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other! Alleluia!

—Martin Luther (1524)

Words and Music

It was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music [Sermo et vox] join to move the listener’s soul….After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both words and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words.

—Martin Luther, “Preface to Georg Rhau’s Symphoniae iucundae,” Luther’s Works 53-323-24

 

REFORMATION 500: Christ Alone

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

REFORMATION 500: Luther on Music

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.

—Martin Luther

REFORMATION 500: The Sacrifice of Praise

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.

—Martin Luther