The Staggering Number of Styles and Genres of Lutheran Church Music

Decent Essays


Lutheran church music in its first two and a half centuries can be characterized by the incorporation of a staggering variety of styles and musical genres. Plainchant, imitative polyphony, and chorale hymnody existed alongside one another, and composers such as Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) and Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630) were among the first to synthesize elements of Monteverdi’s seconda pratica with a fully German practice. Fruits of this multi-style crosspollination, whether a continuo based melodic-harmonic framework, polychoral textures, use of the solo voice or obligato instruments, all paved the way for the apex of this tradition, the concerted vocal works of J.S. Bach. …show more content…

Far from being an element that should be purged from the new forms of worship being developed at this time, Luther allowed for coexistence of both Latin and German. Latin was the language of scholarly writing and diplomacy, and to remove it entirely he believed would be detrimental to the education of youth at the time. In the preface to his Deutsche Messe und Ordnung (German Mass and Order of Divine Service) of 1526, Luther wrote:
For by no means would I have the Latin language completely removed from the divine service, as my chief concern is with the youth. If I could bring to pass that Greek and Hebrew were as familiar to us as the Latin, and offered as much good music and song, we would hold mass, sing and read on successive Sundays in all four languages: German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.”
Luther also acknowledged that building up a repertory of high quality German-texted music which could replace the inheritance of Latin hymnody would take considerable time. Referring to the Roman Liturgy in the Diet of Ausburg of 1530, Luther wrote:
“The best feature of these services is the fact that the fine seasonal Latin hymns have remained, although,

Get Access