National Lutheran News

Commemorating the music of the Reformation

When theology inspired musical renewal

Even as Martin Luther declared the religious leadership of his day to be suffering from corruption, he challenged them to correct the current ways of worship, which were not serving the people in their faith journeys. The reformer’s love of music compelled him to make greater use of choral and instrumental works in the daily worship life of the faithful.

“Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world,” Luther is quoted as saying. “It controls our hearts, minds, and spirits. Beautiful music is the ‘art of the prophets’ that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”

One of only a few early printings of Luther's hymn: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” There are no known first edition printings left. This book, an extremely rare second edition, is in the holdings of the Lutherhaus museum in Wittenberg, Germany. Photograph by Paul T. McCain. June 2006. Wittenberg, Germany.

As part of preparations for the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Chapel, the official commemoration organization — Luther 2017 — has declared an International Reformation Music Festival (IRMF) for 2012. The IRMF invites choirs and music groups from the United States, Canada, and other countries to participate in a celebration of the culture of music that was born of the Reformation.

“Local congregations will have the opportunity to participate in several ways,” Peter Zehnder, president of LutherTours, Newport Beach, California, explained to Metro Lutheran. “Local choirs from around the world are invited to find fellowship on a smaller more individual basis” than would normally be the case for an international festival.

To accommodate the variety of choirs that may be interested, IRMF has planned four different festival dates (spring, summer, Reformation Day, and Advent) in four different historical settings — Leipzig, Coburg, Wittenberg, and Erfurt (all in Germany) — to allow maximum flexibility for each choir. The choirs can set up their own individual tour itineraries through LutherTours, and then meet with other choirs for the experience of a festival and mass choir performance.

For more information about the International Reformation Music Festival, visit Web sites www.luthertours.com or www.Luther2017.de, or call Zehnder at 949/230-5426.

LutherTours has experience coordinating such complicated tours. In 1996 it was designated as the official tour partner for the 450th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther.

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