Around 10 years ago I ran across this outstanding collection of historic Lutheran hymns: Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth. Since I’ve been listening to some of them recently, I though it would be fitting to mention them here. This collection of hymns contains 39 tracks, along with some brief narrative and quotes from Luther. The hymns include “A Mighty Fortress,” “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands,” and many others.
The 4-CD set contains a beautiful booklet that has historical and theological notes along with lyrics to the hymns. A chorale sings the hymns and various instruments are used, including Renaissance, Baroque, and some modern instruments. You can listen to these songs on Amazon or the CPH website. Here’s a sample of one of Luther’s hymns called, “We All Believe in One True God” (note the creedal background of this song):
“We all believe in one true God,
Who created earth and heaven, the Father who to us in love
Hath the right of children given. He in soul and body feeds us;
All we need His hand provides us; through all snares and perils leads us.
Watching that no harm betide us. He careth for us day and night,
All things are governed by his might.”
“We all believe in Jesus Christ,
His own Son, our Lord, possessing an equal Godhead, throne, and might,
Source of ev’ry grace and blessing. Born of Mary virgin mother,
By the power of the Spirit, Word made flesh, our elder brother
That the lost might life inherit; was crucified for all our sin
And raised by God to life again.”
“We all confess the Holy Ghost,
Who, in highest heaven dwelling with God the Father and the Son,
Comforts us beyond all telling; who the Church , His own creation,
Keeps in unity of spirit; Here forgiveness and salvation
Daily come thro’ Jesus’ merit. All flesh shall rise, and we shall be
In bliss with God eternally.”
Here’s an Easter hymn Luther wrote that utilizes the medieval biblical hymnody of Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy!). It is called, “Jesus Christ, Our Mighty King.”
“Jesus Christ our mighty King,
Conquered death, broke its sting;
Now He is risen.
Our sin He left in prison.
“This Man born without a stain
Took God’s wrath, bore our pain,
God’s peace, a free salvation.
“Sin and death He holds at bay,
Opens up life’s new day.
He can deliver
For He is our life-giver.
If you’re like me, when you listen to these type of solid theological hymns, it makes most contemporary Christian radio/music nearly impossible to listen to. These Lutheran hymns are not about me, my feelings, or my entertainment; they are about God, sin, Christ’s salvation, the Holy Spirit’s work, the Five Solas, and Christian living (Luther even wrote a hymn called, “These Are the Holy Ten Commands”).
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)