Born: November 10, 1483, Eisleben
Died: February 18, 1546, Eisleben
Martin Luther, the founding master of German hymnody, was born November 10, 1483, at Eisleben, and died February 18, 1546, in the same city. Some of his hymns he wrote freely as original compositions, while others were translations of existing Latin hymns, expansions upon earlier German songs, or paraphrases of biblical texts.
- A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott)
- A New Song Be by Us Begun (Ein neues Lied wir heben an)
- All Praise, Lord Jesus Christ, to Thee (Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ)
- Christ Shall We Now Begin to Praise (Christum wir sollen loben schon)
- Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands (Christ lag in Todesbanden)
- Christ Our Lord to the Jordan Came (Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam)
- Come, God Creator, Holy Ghost (Komm, Gott Schöpfer Heiliger Geist)
- Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord (Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott)
- Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice (Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein)
- From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee (Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir)
- From Heaven Above to Earth I Come (Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her)
- From Heaven Came the Angel Band (Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar)
- God Be Exalted and Forever Blessed (Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeiet)
- God the Father, Be Our Stay (Gott der Vater wohn uns bei)
- Happy the Man Who Feareth God (Wohl dem, der in Gottes Furcht steht)
- In Peace and Joy I Now Depart (Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin)
- In the Midst of Life Are We (Mitten wir im Leben sind)
- Isaiah, Holy Prophet, It Befell (Jesaiah dem Propheten das geschah)
- Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior (Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der von uns)
- Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior, Who Hath Death (Jesus Christus, unser Heiland, der den Tod)
- Lord God, Thy Praise We Sing (Herr Gott, dich loben wir)
- Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word (Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort)
- May God Bestow on Us His Grace (Es wollt uns Gott genädig sein)
- Now Do We Pray unto the Holy Ghost (Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist)
- O Grant Us Peace Most Graciously (Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich)
- O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold (Ach Gott von Himmel, sieh darein)
- O Man, If Thou Wilt Blessed Be (Mensch, willt du leben seliglich)
- Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above (Vater unser im Himmelreich)
- Savior of the Nations, Come (Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland)
- She’s Dear to Me, the Worthy Maid (Sie ist mir lieb, die werte Magd)
- The Mouth of Fools May Well Confess (Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl)
- These Are the Holy Ten Commands (Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot)
- Thou Who Art Three in Unity (Der du bist drei in Einigkeit)
- We All Believe in One True God (Wir glauben all an einen Gott)
- Were God Not with Us at This Time (Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit)
- Why Fearest Thou, Foe Herod, So (Was fürchtst du, Feind Herodes, sehr)
Martin Luther’s hymns were arranged by Luther himself in the hymnals printed under his supervision, with hymns by others following. Luther’s own order follows below:
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
[Woodcut: The Triumphal Entry]
The Hymn “Veni Redemptor gentium,” rendered into German by Dr. Martin Luther.
V: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
R: Make His paths straight.
Dear Lord God, awaken us, that we may be ready, when Thy Son cometh, to receive Him with joy, and to serve Thee with pure hearts; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LORD. Amen.
The Birth of Jesus Christ
[Woodcut: The Nativity]
The Hymn “A solis ortus,” rendered into German by Dr. Martin Luther.
The German text also fits well with the Latin notes.
A Song of Praise on the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Dr. Martin Luther.
A Children’s Song for Christmas Night, on the Baby Jesus, Taken from the 2nd Chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, etc., by Dr. Martin Luther.
Another Christmas Song, in the Foregoing Tune, by Martin Luther.
V: Unto us a Child is born. Alleluia.
R: Unto us a Son is given. Alleluia.
V: The Word was made flesh. Alleluia.
R: And dwelt among us. Alleluia.
V: Unto you is born this day a Savior. Alleluia.
R: Which is Christ the Lord, in the City of David. Alleluia.
Grant, dear Lord God, that we may be and remain partakers of the new bodily birth of Thy Son Jesus Christ, and be released from our old sinful birth; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LORD. Amen.
The Coming of the Wise Men.
[Woodcut: The Adoration of the Magi]
The Hymn “Hostis Herodes,” to the Tune “A solis ortus.” Dr. Martin Luther.
The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus
[Woodcut: The Circumcision of Jesus; later, The Presentation of Jesus]
The Canticle of Simeon, the Ancient Father, “Nunc Dimittis,” Luke 2. Dr. Martin Luther.
V: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.
R: For mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation.
Almighty, everlasting God, we heartily beseech Thee, grant unto us that we may know and praise Thy dear Son, as the holy Simeon bodily received Him into his arms, and spiritually saw and confessed Him; through the same, etc.
The Suffering and Death of Jesus Christ.
[Woodcut: The Crucifixion]
V: Christ was wounded for our transgressions.
R: He was bruised for our iniquities.
Merciful, everlasting God, Thou who sparedst not Thine own Son, but gave Him up for us all, that He might bear our sins upon the cross, grant unto us that in such faith our hearts may nevermore fear nor despair; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LORD. Amen.
V: The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.
R: And with His stripes we are healed.
Almighty Father, everlasting God, who hast let Thy Son suffer for us the pain of the cross, that Thou mightest drive from us the power of the Foe, grant unto us so to remember and give thanks for His sufferings that we may receive thereby the forgiveness of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, etc.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
[Woodcut: The Resurrection]
“Christ ist erstanden,” expanded. Dr. Martin Luther.
A Song of Praise on the Feast of Easter. Dr. Martin Luther.
V: Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more. Alleluia.
R: Death hath no more dominion over Him. Alleluia.
V: I know that my Redeemer liveth. Alleluia.
R: Who shall awaken me out of the earth. Alleluia.
Almighty God, who through the death of Thy Son hast brought sin and death to naught, and through His resurrection hast brought innocence and everlasting life, so that we, redeemed from the power of the devil, might live in Thy kingdom, grant unto us that we may believe this with our whole heart, and, established in such faith, praise and thank Thee at all times; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LORD. Amen.
The Ascension of Jesus Christ.
[Woodcut: The Ascension]
V: Christ is ascended up on high. Alleluia.
R: And hath led captivity captive. Alleluia.
V: I ascend unto My Father and your Father. Alleluia.
R: To My God and your God. Alleluia.
Almighty LORD God, grant unto us, who believe that Thine only Son, our Savior, is ascended this day into heaven, that we too may be with Him spiritually, live and dwell in a spiritual manner; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LORD. Amen.
The Outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
[Woodcut: The Pentecost]
The Hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus,” rendered into German by Dr. Martin Luther.
“Veni Sancte Spiritus,” expanded by Dr. Martin Luther.
The Hymn of Praise “Now Do We Pray Unto the Holy Ghost.” Dr. Martin Luther.
V: Create in me a clean heart, O God.
R: And renew a right spirit within me.
LORD God, dear Father, Thou who, on this day, hast enlightened and instructed the hearts of Thy faithful through the Holy Ghost, grant unto us that we also, through the same Spirit, may have a right understanding, and rejoice at all times in His comfort and power, through, etc.
The Holy Trinity
[Woodcut: The Holy Trinity]
“God the Father, Be Our Stay,” etc. Dr. Martin Luther.
V: We bless God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Alleluia.
R: And praise Him from now on unto eternity. Alleluia.
Almighty, everlasting God, who hast taught us in the true faith to know and confess that Thou art, in three persons of equal might and honor, one eternal God, and art thus to be called upon, we pray Thee that Thou wouldst keep us at all times steadfast in such faith, against all afflictions that might arise against us; who livest and reignest from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.
Now follow spiritual songs, wherein the Catechism is briefly summarized; for yea, we would gladly that the Christian doctrine in various ways, with preaching, reading, singing, etc., be earnestly inculcated, and ever illustrated for the youth and the simple people, and thus, by and by, be kept pure, and received by our posterity. To this end God grant His grace and blessing through Jesus Christ. Amen.
[Woodcut: The Golden Calf (reprinted from the Catechism)]
The Ten Commandments, i.e., the Will of God. Dr. Martin Luther.
The Ten Commandments more briefly summarized. Dr. Martin Luther.
[Woodcut: The Creation]
The German “Patrem” [i.e., the Creed]. Dr. Martin Luther.
The “Our Father” [i.e., Lord’s Prayer], well and briefly set out and rendered for singing, by Dr. Martin Luther.
[Woodcut: Preaching the Crucifixion]
A Collect for the Our Father.
V: Ask, and ye shall receive.
R: That your joy may be full.
V: Call upon Me in the day of trouble.
R: I will deliver Thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.
O LORD, almighty God, who despisest not the sighs of the sorrowful, nor disdainest to receive the contrite heart, look upon our prayer, which we bring before Thee in our distress, and graciously hear us, that all those evils which the devil and men work against us may come to naught, and according to the counsel of Thy goodness be cut off, so that we, being unharmed by all afflictions, may at all times thank and praise Thee in Thy congregation; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LOrd. Amen.
V: The desires of the sorrowful hearest Thou, O LORD.
R: Their heart is certain that Thine ear inclineth thereto.
V: Ere they call, I will answer.
R: When they but speak, I will hear.
LORD God, heavenly Father, who knowest that we, being in the midst of so many and great dangers, through our human weakness cannot stand, grant unto us power in both body and soul, that we who quail on account of our sins may through Thy help overcome; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our LOrd. Amen.
[Woodcut: The Means of Grace (Absolution, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper)]
A Spiritual Song on Our Holy Baptism, wherein is right briefly summarized: What it is, who instituted it, of what use it is, etc. Dr. Martin Luther.
[Woodcut: The Lord’s Supper]
The 111th Psalm, which one may sing when one administers the high and worthy Sacrament.
[Luther’s translation of Psalm 111 is provided with a chant tone.]
St. John Hus, expanded. Dr. Martin Luther.
The Hymn of Praise “God Be Exalted.” Dr. Martin Luther.
V: As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup.
R: Shall ye proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.
Oh, Thou dear Lord God, who hast commanded us by this wonderful Sacrament to remember and proclaim Thy Passion, grant unto us that we may so use such Sacrament of Thy body and blood that daily we may fruitfully receive unto ourselves Thy redemption. Amen.
V: Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner.
R: Is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
We give thanks to Thee, Almighty God, that Thou hast refreshed us through this salutary gift; and we beseech Thee that of Thy mercy Thou wouldst strengthen us through the same in faith toward Thee and in fervent love toward one another; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
There follow now a few Psalms, rendered into spiritual songs in German by Dr. Martin Luther, and first, the 12th Psalm, “Salvum me fac Domine.”
[Woodcut: King David, the Sweet Psalmist of Israel]
The 14th Psalm, “Dixit insipiens in corde suo, non est Deus.” Dr. Martin Luther.
The 46th Psalm, “Deus noster refugium et virtus,” etc. Dr. Martin Luther.
The 67th Psalm, “Deus misereatur nostri.” Dr. Martin Luther.
The 74th Psalm, “Nisi quia Dominus,” etc. Dr. Martin Luther.
The 128th Psalm, “Beati omnes qui timent Dominum.” Dr. Martin Luther.
The 130th Psalm, “De profundis clamavi ad te Domine.” Dr. Martin Luther.
The German “Sanctus.” Dr. Martin Luther.
A Children’s Song, to be sung against the two arch-foes of Christ and His Holy Church, the Pope and the Turk, etc.
“Da pacem Domine,” in German.
V: O God, give peace in Thy land.
R: Happiness and health to all estates.
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that we, being defended by Thee from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
A Song of Thanks for the highest benefactions which God has shown us in Christ.
A Song for the Holy Christian Church, from the 12th Chapter of Revelation. Dr. Martin Luther.
In the Midst of Life Are We. Dr. Martin Luther.
The Canticle “Te Deum laudamus,” rendered into German by Dr. Martin Luther.
A Prayer on the Te Deum laudamus.
V: O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.
R: For His mercy endureth forever.
LORD God, heavenly Father, from whom without ceasing we receive all manner of good gifts right liberally, and daily from all evil are quite graciously protected, we pray Thee, grant unto us by Thy Spirit to acknowledge all such things with our whole heart in true faith, so that we may thank and praise Thy kindly benefits and mercy, both here and hereafter in eternity; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. AMEN.
V: Daily, O LORD, will I praise Thee.
R: And glory in Thy name ever and eternally.
Almighty God, who art the Protector of all them that hope in Thee, without whose grace no one may do aught, nor anything availeth before Thee, let Thy mercy richly attend us, so that through Thy holy activity we may think what is right, and through Thy working also bring the same to completion; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. AMEN.
The German Litany.
[The Litany, with music, follows in Luther’s translation.]
A Prayer on the Litany.
V: O Lord, deal not with us after our sins.
R: Neither reward us according to our iniquities.
V: We have sinned with out fathers.
R: We have transgressed, and art become ungodly.
Lord God, heavenly Father, who desirest not the death of sinners, nor gladly lettest them perish, but wilt that they be converted and live, we heartily beseech Thee that Thou wouldst graciously turn from us the well-deserved punishments for our sins, and henceforth kindly to grant us Thy mercy for our betterance; for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.
V: O Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant.
R: For in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.
Almighty, everlasting God, who by Thy Holy Spirit dost govern and sanctify the whole of Christendom, hear our prayer, and graciously grant that she, with all her members, may by Thy grace serve Thee in pure faith; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. AMEN.
The Latin Litany, Corrected.
[Here follows the Litany in Latin.]
A Song on the Two Martyrs of Christ, burned at Brussels by the Sophists from Louvain, which took place in the year 1522. Dr. Martin Luther.
A New Preface by Dr. Martin Luther.
[Here follows the 1533 Preface.]
[Woodcut: King David, Sweet Psalmist of Israel]
[Here follow hymns by others of Luther’s contemporaries.]
[Here follow hymns by pious Christians who lived before Luther’s time, including:]
The Hymn “O Lux beata,” rendered into German by Dr. Martin Luther.
[Here follow the Canticles of the Old and New Testaments.]
A Fine Christian Song, to be sung at the burial of those who have died, by Dr. Martin Luther.
[Luther elsewhere denies authorship of this hymn, though he much approves of it.]
[Here follows Luther’s “Preface to All Good Hymnals.”]
[Here follows the Index of Hymns.]
[Here follows the Prayer of Manasseh.]
[Here follows A Prayer against the Turks, the Ancestral Foes of the Christian Name.]