Season 2 – Episode 2

  A Mighty Fortress is our Song: Luther the Hymnodist

Elyse Eenigenburg and Dr. Kyle Robinson

In this episode of Hear the Voice and Prayer, Elyse discusses her research into hymn writing and the role of music during the 16th century, specifically related to the Protestant Reformation and the bold songs of Martin Luther. The role of melody and lyrics are analyzed as Dr. Robinson and Elyse survey songs that were contemporaries of Luther’s famous A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. They also discuss the varied uses of these hymns, the role of the printing press in distributing these hymns, and how hymns themselves were assertions of Protestant rebellion against Catholicism. 


Primary Sources 

– Leupold, Ulrich S., and Helmut T. Lehmann, eds. Luther’s Works: Liturgy and Hymns. Vol. 53.

Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1965.

          *Luther’s work Concerning the Order of Public Worship can be found in this book

– Brown, Christopher Boyd. Singing the Gospel Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the

Reformation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Published by Hear the Voice and Prayer

How can we study belief? What are the longer term implications of religious change in society? These connected questions form the core of our course and our investigation of Early Modern Europe (c. 1450-1789). Indeed, the meaning of belief was the central issue of contention in Europe from the dawn of the Renaissance until the twilight of the eighteenth century and its Revolutions. The shattering of the Christian consensus and the rise of the empirical frame was a pathway cleared with the twin swords of Humanism’s cry of ad fontes and Luther’s injunction of sola fide. The route uncovered was a journey to the “Modern” in all its beauty and ugliness. Yet, stones lay upon this trail, rocky reminders whose pain and obstacle convey the irony that Europe’s greatest religious revolution resulted in the ultimate secularization of the continent and of the West in general. Still, secularization, caught as it is in a dialectic with Christianity, is a form of belief, and belief remains central. The effort to experience, define, and understand both acceptable and unacceptable beliefs will be our compass to map Europe’s Early Modern world, the world of unfolding Reformations. This course will consist of primary and secondary readings, lecture, classroom discussion, as well as multiple student writing assignments culminating in a final research based student podcast.

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