Since 1950, there has been more music published for congregational singing than at any other time in the history of the church. Nearly every major denominational body, as well as many independent congregations and publishing companies, have produced official and supplementary hymnals and related collections of songs. In almost every case, these collections evidence a recovery of traditions once lost and relentless pursuit of contemporary music that is both faithful to the gospel and representative of the languages—both verbal and musical—of modern culture.
Through much of the nineteenth century, worship in liturgical churches followed largely low-church convictions. In the mid-nineteenth century and continuing into the twentieth, many of these churches began recovering ancient patterns of worship. In music, this meant the recovery of Gregorian chant in the Catholic church, the return of Lutherans to sixteenth-century liturgy forms, a movement in some Anglican churches away from Puritan-influenced worship to the recovery of catholic forms, and the trend in some free churches from revival-style worship to quasi-liturgical practices.
The reforms in music which attended the reform of worship in the Reformation ranged widely from the rejection of all instruments and the restriction of singing solely to the Psalms to the choral Eucharists of the Anglicans.
Lutheran worship calls people to faith again and again through the proclamation of the Gospel through Word and Table. In this service, God acts and the people respond. In form, Lutheran worship is both evangelical and Catholic.
Luther’s liturgical reform was guided by the principle that if the Scriptures did not expressly reject a particular practice, the church was free to keep it. Consequently, Lutheran worship retained much of the ceremonial practice of Catholic worship.
Among Protestant churches, the Lutheran tradition has the richest heritage of music for worship. It is based on the assumption that music is a profound means by which we enter God’s presence and render our liturgy of thanksgiving to God. Bringing together insights first developed by Martin Luther and practices that have grown out of almost 500 years of Lutheran worship, this article describes why and how music is used in Lutheran worship.
As time went by sectarian differences became less important and denominations cooperated for such causes as evangelism, social action, and missionary activities.
Paul Gerhardt, a distinguished Lutheran minister, and, next to Luther, the most popular hymn-writer of Germany, was born in Saxony in 1607. He studied at the University of Wittenberg and later became a tutor in the family of his sponsor Andreas Barthold; whose daughter he later married in 1655.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a master organist and composer. Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany to a family of noted musicians.