Ein neues Lied

Meter: 8.7. 8.7. 8.7. 8.7. 7.
Source: Eyn Enchiridion oder Handbüchlein (Erfurt Enchiridion), Erfurt, 1524
Proper Text: A New Song Be by Us Begun (Ein neues Lied wir heben an)

This tune, likely written by Luther himself in 1523, was in effect a preliminary experiment in the writing of new hymnody for the Lutheran Church. It follows the German bar form (AAB structure) and supports repeated stanzas, much like the tunes employed by German bards at the time for sharing news and stories.

As with so many early hymn tunes, there are differences between the versions in Johann Walter’s Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn and in the Erfurt Enchiridion, as illustrated here:

Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn

Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn, Johann Walther, 1524.

The Erfurt Enchiridion

The Erfurt Enchiridion, Maler printing, 1524. The penultimate note in the Aufgesang (the repeating portion at the beginning) is a mistake present only in this printing; the Loersfeld printing has a ligature for two descending semibreves (a–g, matching Walter), which is the correct reading but can easily be mistaken for a minima, as apparently happened here.

The difference is in the final cadence. As pointed out in the entry on this hymn in Luther’s Works, the version in the Erfurt Enchiridion ends on the tonic, while that in the Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn ends on the dominant. It is the latter that has been chosen for the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book.

Ein neues Lied,” Johann Walter, 1524: