Although the Reformed tradition has been more restrictive about the use of music in worship than the Lutheran tradition, it nevertheless highly values the role of music in worship. This article describes emphases important in the Reformed tradition, largely in terms of the writings of Reformer John Calvin.
Calvin’s influence can be seen to this day in the various denominations that embrace his theology, including Presbyterian and Reformed churches.
Much of the history of the Reformation depends on the ideas of Martin Luther. Because of him, the revolt was more ecclesiastical than theological, except in the fundamental difference of Protestant dependence on faith for salvation and Catholic dependence on the sacraments of the Church. The basic principle on which Luther based his reconstruction of theology was that individual salvation from sin and its punishment was to be obtained by personal faith in Christ as a sufficient Savior rather than faith in the priest, the sacraments, and the whole system of Catholicism.
Luther’s contempt for injustice and oppression and his love for God’s Word and the freedom it offered launched the Protestant Reformation. It was the simple sale of indulgences, however, that inspired him to nail his written protest in a public forum.
Gutenberg’s advances in printing technology allowed Bible translators to make the Scriptures available to the common person, a primary catalyst behind the success of the Reformation.
Martin Luther, the hero of the Reformation, was born in the village of Eisleben in 1483. He entered the University at Erfurt in 1501 and graduated with honors. In 1505 he entered an Augustinian monastery at Erfurt and was consecrated to the priesthood in 1507. He was a diligent scholar and in 1508 was called to the chair of Philosophy at the University of Wittenberg.
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) grew up in an educated and affluent home and, at his father’s bidding, studied in Vienna for the priesthood. In 1506 he was named a parish priest in Glarus where he demonstrated great skills as an orator.
John Wycliffe (c. 1329-1384) was known as the first among the great Reformation figures. He was born in Yorkshire, England and studied at Oxford, an institution he remained connected to throughout his life as a teacher and writer.
John Milton (1608-1674) was one of the greatest English poets. He was born in London and was educated at Cambridge. His family’s wealth allowed him to travel extensively after graduation and to spend six years at his father’s estate writing poetry.
Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a German Reformer. He studied Greek at the University of Heidelberg before taking a teaching position in Greek studies at the University of Wittenberg.