Saturday, November 7, 2009

Luther and "Bar Music"

Here is a link to a paper by Paul Jones (HT Douglas Bond). He starts it with the statement:
"If I had a dollar for every time I have heard that Martin Luther used tavern music for his hymns and that 'A Mighty Fortress Is Our God' was a drinking song,I would be a wealthy man. Yet such assertions are simply not true."


EvanF said...

It is very interesting to learn that Luther did not write "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" based on a bar song. However, I also don't believe that contemporary worship songs are built on bar songs. The argument is that he used a secular style. There is no difficulty in imagining a tavern full of german people singing that tune. The author adequately supports his claim that Luther didn't use a drinking song, though he takes 7 pages to do so. However, he also makes claims about styles of music. This is interesting, as each identifiably unique era in Christian history has its own style of music. Who is he to say that any "style" of music is less valid than another? He may be right, but he makes these assertions with no evidence. The Lord said we will know them by their fruit. If these "not so wonderful" writers of contemporary christian music were "bad trees", wouldn't we notice an impact? wouldn't the newly founded churches using contemporary music in their worship services fall flat?
People can be swayed by false prophets, certainly, but if the theology of the church is based firmly on the Word of God, anything regarding music is just personal preference or bias. There's nothing worse than people in the church forcing their styles of worship on others and alienating them, particularly youth. What makes their style better or worse? right or wrong? It is Who we are worshipping. We can worship our Lord in all the things we do, even the mundane. If I use a nailgun rather than a hammer to build an orphanage in obedience to God's calling, is that wrong?
This author's statements are weakened by presenting only his opinion and no facts or statistics. Even a hymn by Luther, when sung for the wrong reasons (such as pride), loses its power, and is certainly worse than a contemporary song sung in full devotion to God. He should have stuck to the point that was the strongest: "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" wasn't based on a drinking song. He could have debated the pros and cons of style elsewhere, and with actual research.

Anonymous said...

Evan, you nailed it (with a nailgun, not that it matters)! I wanted to respond to the post, then I saw your response....Out of the park sir. Brilliant.