Didnít Martin Luther use drinking and bar tunes in his music?


Another excuse the CCMer use to justify their "rock" is: "Hey, Martin Luther used drinking and bar tunes in his music"?

There are two major problems with this "justification":


It is a LIE!

Itís amazing how many times (at least a hundred) Iíve had CCMers tell me "Martin Luther used drinking and bar tunes in his music". And itís even more amazing what happens when asked to provide documented evidence to their accusation ó it cannot be found! In the many, many times I have asked for documentation to their claim, do you know how many produced any evidence? Exactly ZERO! Why? Because it is simply not true.

Here are the documented FACTS:

"Of the melodies to Lutherís 37 chorales, 15 were composed by Luther himself, 13 came from Latin hymns of Latin service music, 4 were derived from German religious folk songs, 2 had originally been religious pilgrimsí songs, 2 are of unknown origin, and one came directly from a secular folk song." (Data compiled from Squire, pp. 446-447; Leupold, ed., Liturgy and Hymns; and Strodach, ed., Works of Martin Luther, VI)

NOTE: The one secular song was from a popular pre-Reformation (not a drinking tune!) secular song, "I Arrived from an Alien Country," and was used as the melody for the Christmas hymn, "From Heaven on High I Come to You", the first stanza Luther patterned after the folk song.
(source: Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 18)

And here's an interesting FACT ó not only that, because of itís worldly association, Luther later changed the tune!

According to historian Paul Nettl, Luther changed the tune because:

"Luther was embarrassed to hear the tune of his Christmas hymn sung in inns and dance halls." (Paul Nettl, Luther and Music, p. 48)

After researching every published work dealing with Lutherís music, Robert Harrell says point-blank:

"None of the works dealing with Lutherís music can trace a single melody of his back to a drinking song." (Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 34)

Harrell also says:

It seems obvious to this writer that using Lutherís music as an historical precedent for using rock and other worldly music in our churches today is completely incongruous with the facts of history.

Luther did not use the barroom songs of his day, nor did he use even the worldly music of his day. In fact, he was extremely cautious in protecting the Word of God from any admixture of worldly elements. This can be seen in his words: ĎI wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people also by means of songs.í"
(Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 36)

Furthermore, Martin Luther was very concerned over the words and tunes of his music.

"But I would like to avoid any new words or the language used at court. [DTM Ė Is that ever contrary to the CCMers who imitate the rock worldís slang and lingo; like dcTalkís "Jesus Freak"] In order to be understood by the people, only the simplest and the most common words should be used for singing; at the same time, however, they should be pure and apt; and further, the sense should be clear and as close as possible to the psalm."
(Martin Luther, "To George Spalatin," Letters II, p. 69)

Some of Lutherís most famous chorales are paraphrases of the Psalms, such as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (Psalm 46), "From Deep Distress I Cry to Thee" (Psalm 130), and "Ah, God, from Heaven Look Down" (Psalm 12).

Isnít it amazing how TOTALLY different the TRUTH is from the CCMers LIE!

"Who changed the TRUTH of God into a LIE, . . ." (Romans 1:25)

Another person CCMer's foolishly try to "recruit" to their "wordly" side is General William Booth. To anyone familiar with the ministry and message of General William Booth, the comparison of Christian Rock to General William Booth is too funny for words. General William Booth and the "old-time" Salvation Army [not to be confused with todays' Salvation Army] carried the message of the blood of Jesus Christ through "the dangers, toils and snares". Booth and his army marched against the "wiles of the wicked one". Here's how the book Born to Battle: The Salvation Army in America begins:

"The mob numbered thousands. They hooted, screamed, spit, cursed, threw refuse and brickbats, and charged with what the press described as 'savage ferocity'."
The assaulted, marching to council in Sheffield, England, did not retaliate but continued to march forward, drums booming, flags flying, singing about the conquering Son of God. The troops were commanded by General William Booth who, despite taunts of 'Kill 'em!' and 'Down with The Salvation Army! stood riding in a open carriage with Mrs. Boothe beside him.
Bruised and bleeding, their uniforms muddied, torn and buttonless, the forces arrived at their fort shouting, 'Hallelujah'!"
(Sallie Chesham, Born to Battle: The Salvation Army in America, p.21)

Only a CCMer could compare the "wordly-carnal-men-pleasing-compromising-positive-feel-good" CCM to the "street-preaching-hated-gospel-bearer-at-any-cost" General William Booth. To show how COMPLETELY opposite from the "watered-down-partying-feel-good-positive-self-esteem" message of CCM ó here's a few quotes by General Booth:

When someone told Booth to "talk about peace".
"No!" William replied, "the best preaching is damnation with the Cross in the middle!" (Ibid p. 37)

"Any profession of Jesus Christ which brings no Cross is all nonsense." (Ibid)

"I don't care how near to the bottmless pit I go in order to save mankind."

"Soul-saving music is the music for me!"

One quote of General Booths that CCMers "use" to justify their carnal-love for rock music is Booth's "If standing on my head and beating a tamborine with my toes will win a soul for Jesus, I will do it." The BIG difference between Booth and CCM is ó General Booth meant it! CCMers just quote it to justify their "love" for rock music. As we have documented in several articles most CCMer's hide, disguise or refuse to even name the name of Jesus!

Would General William Booth agree with the CCMer's use of worldy rock music? Not on your life! Here's a quote from General Booth:

"May none of our musicians ever ape [copy] the skill of the world in the production of merely pretty sounds, not only disconnected with the quickening truth of God but often almost inaudible [perfect description of CCM rock] to those whose hearts they ought to stir. (Ibid, p. 188)"

Fanny Crosby, the greatest hymn writer that ever lived, would not make a very good CCMer: Here's what the greatest hymn writer that ever lived said about mixing Christian with worldy music:

"Sometimes I need to reject the music propsed for my songs because the musicians misunderstand that the Fanny Crosby who once wrote for the people in the saloons has merely changed the lyrics. Oh my no. The church must never sing it's songs to the melodies of the world." (Danny Castle, video "What's Wrong with Christian Rock")
The following is another excellent answer to the falsehood that Martin Luther used "bar" tunes in his music. (from rpcbmt.blogspot.com/2005_07_01_rpcbmt_archive.html bold emphasis added)

It is often asserted that contemporary music in worship is fine because Luther used "bar" tunes for his hymns. Though this is often stated with great regularity, the fact is that it is 100% false and we should not continue to perpetrate a known falsehood. Let's face it, if the 9th commandment (thou shalt not bear false witness) means anything, it has to cover stuff like this. If Christians would bother to do a little bit of research on the internet, they would find that they could avoid many of the things that make them look quite silly to others.

So for the record here is some research on this whole issue of Luther and "bar" tunes:

"The idea that Luther adapted his tune from a drinking song is probably from a misunderstanding of the tune in "bar form." It is easy to see here that "bar" is a technical term, because it is precisely the same word in German. For example, in Liederkunde, 2. Teil, edited by Joachim Stalmann (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990), we find the statement "Luther baut einen neunzeiligen Bar" ["Luther builds a bar of nine lines"] (p. 61).

Willi Apel in Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed., rev. and enl. (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969) says the following on p. 80-81 about "Bar form." Of particular importance is the connection of the form with the Meistersingers, as seen also in the first quotation from Carl Schalk: "The name is derived from the medieval German term Bar, a poem consisting of three or more Gesaetze (i.e., stanzas), each of which is divided into two Stollen (section a) and an Absegang (section b). ... [The Bar form] found its way into the repertory of the troubadours ... and ultimately into that of the minnesingers and Meistersinger, who called it Bar and used it for nearly all their lyrical songs. It is equally common in the German ... Lutheran chorales and the various compositions based on them (organ chorales, chorale cantatas, etc.). ... Of particular importance is the type of Bar in which the Stollen recurs complete at the end of the Abgesang, thus leading to the form a a b a. An appropriate designation for this is rounded Bar form. Several hymn melodies show this form."
"A Mighty Fortress" (by Martin Luther) has the "bar form" A A B A'. One can diagram it thus:
A - A mighty Fortress is our God, A trusty Shield and Weapon;
A - He helps us free from ev'ry need That hath us now o'ertaken.
B - The old evil Foe Now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
A - On earth is not his equal.

Despite the analyses of musicologists, one could still claim that Martin Luther "knew a good tune when he heard it," and adapted it for his own purposes. To think that Luther adapted a drinking song for "A Mighty Fortress," however, goes completely against the practice of the Reformer. This is amply stated by Richard C. Resch, "Music: Gift of God or Tool of the Devil," Logia 3 (Eastertide/April 1994) no. 2: 36, where he makes reference to Markus Jenny, Luthers geistliche Lieder und Kirchengesaenge (Koeln: Boehlau Verlag, 1985):

"Martin Luther is one of the most misunderstood church fathers with respect to the use of music in the church. Claims that he used tavern tunes for his hymns are used in defense of a music practice that freely accepts worldly associations. Such conclusions bear no resemblance to Luther's writings on the subjects of worship and music. In fact, Luther's actions teach us quite a different lesson. In his search for the right tune for his text "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her" ["From Heaven Above to Earth I Come"] , Luther learned about the power of worldly associations. According to the Luther scholar Markus Jenny, Luther's first wedding of this text with a tune was "a classic example of the failure of a contrafacta." He set it to a secular dance song that begins, "I step eagerly to this dance." The dance and tune were closely associated with a Christmas wreath ceremony that was often held in taverns. Luther found the secular associations to be so strong that he eventually wrote a fresh tune that was free of worldly associations. He then indicated on the manuscript that this new melody was to be used in the Sunday service and with children. Luther's modification of this beloved hymn is indication of his sensitivity to the harmful power of worldly associations in the worship practice of the church." -- Rev. Richard Lammert, Public Services Librarian Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN "

Now you know!
Luther did NOT use secular tunes found at the local tavern for his hymns. He believed quite the opposite actually.


Besides being a flat-out LIE ó the second problem with the "Hey, Martin Luther used drinking and bar tunes in his music" reasoning is even more serious ó It goes completely against the clear teaching of the Word of God: (as does most of CCM)

One way the world justifies their "sin" is: "well, everyone else does it" or "so and so does it, so it must be alright".

Hey ó "if he can do it Ė I can do it!"

But the Bible clearly teaches us NOT to compare "ourselves one with another".

"For we dare NOT make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Cor. 10:12

After the resurrection, in John 21, Peter looked at John and asked the Lord Jesus:

"Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?"
John 21:21

Notice what the Lord Jesus told Peter:

"Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."
John 21:22

The Lord Jesus told Peter, donít worry about John ó you just "follow thou me". Get your eyes off of other men ó "follow thou me".

While we think a lot of Martin Luther and his role in church history, we would never "follow" Martin Luther ó except where Martin followed the Lord Jesus Christ. Either for good or bad. Martin Luther is just another man, an unrighteous sinner.

Again it should be emphasized ó Martin Luther did NOT use bar tunes in his music ó but even if he did, that would not make it RIGHT!

We are to follow ONLY the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow ME." Matthew 16:24:
And we follow the Lord Jesus Christ by obeying the instructions He gave us, in the Word of God.

If you read ALL of our information on Contemporary Christian Music, with an open mind, a willing and obedient heart, youíll CLEARLY see Contemporary Christian Music does not OBEY the Word of God.

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