In the first two centuries of her existence, the Lutheran Church produced a globally renowned body of hymnody, known today as the Lutheran chorales. This website is devoted to making that heritage as widely available as possible. While it continues to be very much a work in progress, the hope is that visitors will be able to find pages for individual hymns from the Lutheran chorale tradition, each with a dignified, public-domain translation, each with singable, four-part, public-domain harmonies, and each with a printable PDF usable as a bulletin insert. If no suitable public-domain translation can be found, the administrator of this website will release his own translation under a permissive license providing for unlimited use by congregations, individuals, and even commercial enterprises.
The core of the site is the hymn-text pages. These offer a public-domain translation of a given hymn text, with a link to a page devoted to the tune or tunes associated with that text. An audio player allows the music to be played on a loop to accompany singing of the text. The original-language text is also provided, where possible, and for select hymns there are links to YouTube videos, available recordings, and historical information about the hymn.
In addition to a global search option, visitors can browse indexes of hymn texts and tunes alphabetically, metrically, and by author. There is also an index of sources showing where the Lutheran chorales originated. Where possible, visitors can find scans of actual hymnals containing original printings of the hymns and their tunes and settings.
It is the desire of the administrator, when more work on the site has been completed, to set to work providing an actual printed resource. The goal is to have a single volume, beautifully bound, freely reproducible, containing nothing but the best of the Lutheran chorale tradition, for use in church, school, and home. There may from time to time be shorter, provisional volumes produced and made available for purchase, but no such resources are currently available from this website.
There are other resources being prepared as well, such as a Catechism, orders of service, and a psalter. It is the prayer of the author that the hymns and other resources presented here will be of spiritual benefit to those who receive with thankfulness the heritage vouchsafed to them by God through their Lutheran fathers.
About the Administrator
The Free Lutheran Chorale-Book is administered by the Rev. Christopher J. Neuendorf, pastor of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. Pastor Neuendorf has spent some time studying Latin and German, the languages originally used in producing the great Lutheran chorales. He has also dabbled in mensural notation, the form of printed music most often used in the Lutheran hymnals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and figured bass, used most notably in Johann Crüger’s hymnals. Most of all, he has a deep love for the music of the first two centuries of the Lutheran Church. If you would like to contribute your time and expertise to the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book, please contact Pastor Neuendorf.