7 inni di Lutero a Roma
improvvisazioni a due
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her
Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist
Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam
Vater unser im Himmelreich
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
recorded: September 6-7, 2016
Although 500 years have passed by since the beginning of the Reformation, and although more has been written about Martin Luther (1483–1546) than about any other personage from the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, the image and role of the reformer of Wittenberg continues to be hotly debated. Both positive and negative interpretations of his life and work abound. Whereas the Roman Catholics tend to associate Luther with the definitive division of the Western Church, the Lutherans see him as an intrepid hero who was the founding father of their Church and their faith. Both opinions, however, involve some simplifications and distortions. They may be very widespread, but they do not do justice to Luther and they prevent a deeper form of solidarity and communion between the different Churches. The anniversary of the Reformation, due to be celebrated in 2017, offers an outstanding ecumenical opportunity, due to the broad-ranging interest and intensive organization of this event. It could lead people to see Luther in a new way, to better understand the main points of his theology and to discover aspects of his work which could provide fruitful impulses for faith, theology and the Church in general.
In this context the hymns written by Luther have a very special place. Those who sing them, listen to their melodies and meditate on their texts can become acquainted with Luther starting from the very heart of his faith. In Luther’s hymns, we find a deeply pious Christian, who strives, in his theological activities as an Augustinian monk, a university professor and a preacher in the civic church of Wittenberg, to find answers to the fundamental questions of faith, searching for them through his interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures. In doing so, Luther never gave great importance to intellectual speculation or brilliance. Instead his search for biblical truth, which was intense, serious and of great intellectual strength, aimed exclusively to console the people’s afflicted consciences and to assure them about salvation. This pastoral emphasis of his theology is expressed, in an appealing and communicative way, in his hymns. To this day they are an integral part of the heritage and patrimony of the evangelical faith and they are still sung in Lutheran churches all around the world, as well as in many Catholic parishes.
Luther did not invent the genre of the church hymn, but he rediscovered it: as a personal testimony of faith, as an important modality of the Gospel message and of communal participation in worship, and also as a means for the public dissemination of the biblical message. Luther first wrote about his intention to compose hymns in 1523, in a letter to his friend Georg Spalatin: “Following the example of the prophets and the ancient fathers of the Church, I intend to make German psalms for the people, that is to say spiritual hymns, whereby the word of God will remain among the people also by means of singing. [...] But I desire that all new-fangled little words from the court should be left out, so that the words may all be quite plain and generally intelligible, such as the common people may understand, but lucidly and skilfully expressed, and that also the sense should be provided clearly and graciously, according to the meaning of the psalm.” (WA Br 3,320f).
Luther thus set himself this task and he composed a total number of 45 hymns that were clear, engaging, easy to remember and written with words “for the people”, rather than music for priests and clerics. They were hymns for the whole community to sing together during worship: psalms, songs about the catechism and hymns for the great feasts of the liturgical year. Luther had received an excellent musical education in his youth and he also composed the melody for some of these hymns, in addition to writing the texts. He was familiar with the polyphonic music of his era as well as with musical theory, and he had sung in the same choir where, 200 years later, the young Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) would also sing.
(from the liner notes of Pastor Dr. Jens-Martin Kruse)