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Therefore I entreat every pious Christian to give a favorable reception to these hymns, and to help forward my undertaking, according as God hath given him more or less ability. The world is, alas, not so mindful and diligent to train and teach our poor youth, but that we ought to be forward in promoting the same. God grant us his grace. Wittemberg, Anno m. For that they should sorrow who have no hope is not to be wondered at, nor indeed are they to be blamed for it, since, being shut out from the faith of Christ, they must either regard and love the present life only, and be loth to lose it, or after this life look for everlasting death and the wrath of God in hell, and be unwilling to go thither.


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But we Christians who from all this have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Son of God, should exercise and wont ourselves in faith to despise death, to look on it as a deep, sound, sweet sleep, the coffin no other than the bosom of our Lord Christ, or paradise, the grave nought but a soft couch of rest; as indeed it is in the sight of God, as he saith in St. John, xi. In like manner also St. Paul, 1 Cor. We sing, withal, beside our dead and over their graves, no dirges nor lamentations, but comforting songs of the forgiveness of sins, of rest, sleep, life and resurrection of the departed believers, for the strengthening of our faith, and the stirring up of the people to a true devotion.


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For it is meet and right to give care and honor to the burial of the dead, in a Edition: current; Page: [ xxiii ] manner worthy of that blessed article of our creed, the resurrection of the dead, and to the spite of that dreadful enemy, death, who doth so shamefully and continually prey upon us, in every horrid way and shape. Accordingly, as we read, the holy patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and the rest, kept their burials with great pomp, and ordered them with much diligence; and afterwards the kings of Judah held splendid ceremonials over the dead, with costly incense of all manner of precious herbs, thereby to hide the offense and shame of death, and acknowledge and glorify the resurrection of the dead, and so to comfort the weak in faith and the sorrowful.

In like manner, even down to this present, have Christians ever been wont to do honorably by the bodies and the graves of the dead, decorating them, singing beside them and adorning them with monuments. Of all importance is that doctrine of the resurrection, that we be firmly grounded therein; for it is our lasting, blessed, eternal comfort and joy, against death, hell, the devil and all sorrow of heart.


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As a good example of what should be used for this end, we have taken the sweet music or melodies which under popish rule are in use at wakes, funerals and masses for the dead, some of which we have printed in this little book; and it is in our thought, as time shall serve, to add others to them, or have this done by more competent hands. But we have set other words thereto, such as shall adorn our doctrine of the resurrection, not that of purgatory with its pains and expiations, whereby the dead may neither sleep nor rest. The notes and melodies are of great price; it were pity to let them perish; but the words to them were unchristian and uncouth, so let these perish.

It is just as in other matters they do greatly excel us, having splendid rites of worship, magnificent convents and abbeys; but the preachings and doctrines heard therein do for the most part serve the devil and dishonor God; who nevertheless is Lord and God over all the earth, and should have of everything the fairest, best and noblest. So also have they costly vestments, chasubles, palliums, copes, hoods, mitres, but what are they that be clothed therewithal? Just in the same way have they much noble music, especially in the abbeys and parish churches, used to adorn most vile, idolatrous words.

Wherefore we have undressed these idolatrous, lifeless, crazy words, stripping off the noble music, and putting it upon the living and holy word of God, wherewith to sing, praise and honor the same, that so the beautiful ornament of music, brought back to its right use, may serve its blessed Maker and his Christian people; so that he Edition: current; Page: [ xxiv ] shall be praised and glorified, and that we by his holy word impressed upon the heart with sweet songs, be builded up and confirmed in the faith.

Yet is it not our purpose that these precise notes be sung in all the churches.

Let each church keep its own notes according to its book and use. For I myself do not listen with pleasure in cases where the notes to a hymn or a responsorium have been changed, and it is sung amongst us in a different way from what I have been used to from my youth. The main point is the correcting of the words, not of the music. There are certain who, by their additions to our hymns, have clearly shown that they far excel me in this matter, and may well be called my masters. But some, on the other hand, have added little of value. And inasmuch as I see that there is no limit to this perpetual amending by every one indiscriminately according to his own liking, so that the earliest of our hymns are more perverted the more they are printed, I am fearful that it will fare with this little book as it has ever fared with good books, that through tampering by incompetent hands it may get to be so overlaid and spoiled that the good will be lost out of it, and nothing be kept in use but the worthless.

We see in the first chapter of St. Luke that in the beginning every one wanted to write a gospel, until among the multitude of gospels the true Gospel was wellnigh lost. So has it been with the works of St.

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Jerome and St. Augustine, and with many other books. In short, there will always be tares sown among the wheat. After these, are arranged the others, such as we deem good and useful. Every man can for himself make his own hymn-book, and leave this of ours alone without additions; as we here beg, beseech and testify. For we like to keep our coin up to our own standard, debarring no man from making better for himself.

Many and divers sacrifices had men to offer, of all that they possessed, both in house and in field, which the people, being idle and covetous, did grudgingly or for some temporal advantage; as the prophet Malachi saith, chap. Cheerful and merry must we be in heart and mind, when we would sing.

Who earnestly believes this cannot but sing and speak thereof with joy and delight, that others also may hear and come. But whoso will not speak and sing thereof, it is a sign that he doth not believe it, and doth not belong to the cheerful New Testament but to the dull and joyless Old Testament. Therefore it is well done on the part of the printers that they are diligent to print good hymns, and make them agreeable to the people with all sorts of embellishments, that they may be won to this joy in believing and gladly sing of it. And inasmuch as this edition of Valtin Bapst [Pope] is prepared in fine style, God grant that it may bring great hurt and damage to that Roman Bapst who by his accursed, intolerable and abominable ordinances has brought nothing into the world but wailing, mourning and misery.

Either by mistake or of purpose this is printed in most books. Ut timearis. The Hebrew reading is as in Matthew xv. Accordingly this is the meaning in this place: Since forgiveness of sins is nowhere else to be found but only with thee, so must they let go all idolatry, and come with a willing heart bowing and bending before thee, creeping up to the cross, and have thee alone in honor, and take refuge in thee, and serve thee, as living by thy grace and not by their own righteousness, etc. Psalm XII. Psalm XIV.

The Hymns of Martin Luther - Online Library of Liberty

Psalm CXXX. Translation in part by R. The first stanza an ancient German Christmas Hymn. Six stanzas added by Luther. Translation chiefly by R. The irregularities of the German versification may be explained in part by the two-fold authorship, in this and other hymns. The first stanza from an ancient German hymn.

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The other stanzas added by Luther. The German Sanctus. Psalm XLVI. The genuine text is here given, and the English version is conformed to it. A Christmas Song. Luke, ii. Quoted in the Christian Examiner, , p. This much-quoted phrase is from Richter.

Books of the Bible in German and English

This interesting and characteristic document was printed first in the Syntagma Musicum of Michael Praetorius, many of whose harmonies are to be found in this volume. It has been repeatedly copied since. Hamburg, Edition: current; Page: [ i ] The Hymns of Luther. First Melody, Harmony by H. Schein, Harmony by A. Haupt, Harmony by Haupt, This is the tune in common use with this psalm in northern Germany.