Luther’s Hymns

Lutherans have a wonderful musical heritage! Lutheran hymnody is rich both musically and lyrically. Good Lutheran hymns are thoroughly steeped in God’s Word. Even today’s Christian praise and worship music owes its development to Martin Luther and his compositions in that Luther wanted the common people to be able to know and understand God and the Scriptures through song, in a language and style that they could understand. Luther used music to help people understand the Gospel, to memorize Scripture, to understand the sacraments, the catechism and more.

What follows is a list of Luther’s Hymn titles and dates as presented in Luther and Congregational Song by Luther D. Reed, pages 6-9, published by the Hymn Society of America in 1947. The teaching points were added after studying the lyrics in each of the hymns as presented in The Hymns of Martin Luther by Peter Reske, published by Concordia Publishing House. Additional web links have been provided so that you may also have the opportunity to listen to Luther’s hymns as, tragically, many can longer be found in Lutheran hymnals. Recordings are in English when available. Several are in Latin or German. A few links are simply an accompaniment along with lyrics as presented in older hymnals. While many of the hymns serve multiple purposes in Christian worship and education and could be categorized in numerous ways, the primary category and teaching or worship themes are listed.

If you have additions to this list, or favorite versions of these hymns, I invite you to share them with us in the comments section. Together, we can keep the beauty of our Lutheran hymnody alive and well. You are also welcome to share this list, use it for congregational teaching, or personal listening enjoyment. If you do share, a link back to our blog is most appreciated.

Hymns Translated by Luther from Latin (music largely composed by Luther)

1) Now Praise We Christ, the Holy One
Christum wir sollen loben schon (1524)
Teaches about the birth of Christ.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjVRdUProlk

2) Though Who Art Three in Unity
Der du bist drei in Einigkeit (1543)
Teaches about and praises the Holy Trinity.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XELkoE-8fI

3) All Praise to Jesus’ Hallowed Name
Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ (1524)
Teaches about the incarnation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALm5lugOCGg

4) Lord God, Thy Praise We Sing
Herr Gott, dich loben wir (1529)
A versification of the Te Deum laudamus; Gives praise to God.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYeslLWC1C0

5) Christ, Who Freed Our Souls from Danger
Jesus Christus unser Heiland (1524)
A catechetical hymn for understanding Holy Communion
Inspired by John Huss’s Jesus Christus, nostra salus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCF9GBiOm8Q

6) Come God, Creator, Holy Ghost
Komm Gott Schopfer, heiliger Geist (1524)
Teaches the importance of Holy Communion, the fact that salvation is not by works but by the cross of Christ alone, and gift of grace and peace of Christ to all who believe and confess.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6mxvOQ8nDw

7) Come Holy Spirit, God and Lord
Komm Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott (1524)
A hymn to the Holy Spirit meant to encourage men in their struggles in this daily life; a prayer that the Holy Spirit would guide men’s hearts in time of strife.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avqfSBEMbdo

8) Though in the Midst of Life We Be
Mitten wir im Leben sind (1524)
A hymn of triumph over the grave.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3rn8G-11c4

9) Saviour of the Heathen, Known
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (1524)
Lyrics ascribed to Ambrose.
Advent Hymn, Trinitarian praise.
https://hymnary.org/text/savior_of_the_heathen_come

10) In These Our Days so Perilous
Verleih uns Frieden gnadiglich (1529)
A prayer of peace during turbulent times.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0asli9YuEVk

11) Why, Herod, Unrelenting Foe
Was furcht’st du, Feind Herodes sehr (1541)
Teaches the meaning of Epiphany.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jcy1Z9TArM

12) We All Believe in One True God
Wir glauben all’ an Einen Gott (1524)
A catechetical hymn that helps one to memorize the Nicene Creed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9VolOFsnPI

Hymns Reworked from German Spiritual Folksongs

13) Christ was Laid in Death’s Strong Bands
Christ lag in Todesbanden (1524)
A Resurrection Hymn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkmEmSksHv0

14) God the Father, With Us Stay
Gott der Vater whon uns bei (1524)
A litany hymn on the Holy Trinity.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1zCM5M6T_s

15) May God be Praised Henceforth and Blest Forever
Gott sei gelobet und gebenedeiet (1524)
Communion Hymn.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlQP_jjarFc

16) Now Pray We All to God, the Comforter
Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (1524)
A hymn about Pentecost and the Lord’s mercy. Luther desired to have it sung after communion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dONSLnMGU0I

Hymns Based on the Psalms

17) Look Down, O Lord, from Heaven Behold
Ach Gott vom Himmel sieh darein (pre-1524)
Based on Psalm 12 and speaks to the Church’s conflicts, needs, strengths, true faith.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhTcmnRtUN4

18) Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee
Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (1524)
Based on Psalm 130. A catechetical hymn on confession, repentance, and faith.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctBQw5vOYuw

19) A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (1528?)
Based on Psalm 46. Teaches God’s power, spiritual warfare, Christology, salvation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igH38WLuyC0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XUYZoguhEQ

20) The Mouth of Fools doth God Confess
Es spricht der Unweisen Mund wohl (1524)
Based on Psalm 14. Teaches the importance of submitting to the authority of Scripture.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2duusQg3KUc

21) May God unto Us Gracious Be
Es wollt uns Gott genadig sein (1524)
Based on Psalm 67. Praises to the Triune God, prayer for grace, missionary theme.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQZso1_X7E4

22) Had God Not Come, May Israel Say
War Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit (1524)
Based on Psalm 124. Teaches the importance of trusting in the Lord in times of strife.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqM1y1vDumY

23) Happy the Man who Feareth God
Wohl dem der in Gottes Furcht steht (1524)
Based on Psalm 128. Teaches the importance of family and God’s work through the family.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWsUQOY46yE

Hymns Based on Scripture Passages

24) To Jordan Came our Lord the Christ
Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam (1541)
A catechetical about the meaning of baptism.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmDzL03cs_E

25) That Man a Godly Life Might Live
Dies sind die heiligen zehn Gebot (1524
A catechetical hymn on the Ten Commandments (see also hymn #27 below).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJlwCjHxw1s

26) These Things the Seer Isaiah Did Befall
Jesaja dem Propheten das geschah (1526)
Teaches the Sanctus.
https://hymnary.org/text/these_things_the_seer_isaiah_did_befall
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5iATvV395s

27) Wilt Thou, O Man, Live Happily
Mesch willt du leben seliflich (1524)
A catechetical hymn on the Ten Commandments meant as a companion to hymn #25 above.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_ALlopT0bM

 28) In Peace and Joy I Now Depart
Mit Fried’ und Freud’ ich fahr’ dahin (1524)
Presents “Simeon’s Song” (Luke 2:29-32).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7600yg-c9A8

29) Dear is to Me the Holy Maid
Sie ist mir lieb, die werthe Magd (1535)
Teaches what the Christian Church is meant to truly be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E1yH0-LkEA

30) Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above
Vater unser im Himmerlreich (1539)
A catechetical hymn of the Lord’s prayer in paraphrase (the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR5y1N1VFlI

31) Good News from Heaven the Angels Bring
Vom Himmel hoch da kam ich her (1535)
Teaches the Christmas story according to Luke.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmZ-bCvAFFI

Entirely Original Hymns

32) By help of God I Fain Would Tell
Ein neus Lied wir heben an (1524)
Luther’s first published hymn. Written in honor the memory of two Augustinians who were martyred because of their adherence to Luther’s teachings. It was designed to make sure the news traveled throughout the land.
http://biblehub.com/library/bacon/the_hymns_of_martin_luther/v_ein_neues_lied_wir.htm (lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l45pIMzaEfk

33) Lord, Keep us Steadfast in Thy Word
Erhalt uns Herr bei deinem Wort (1541?)
Written “to sing against the two archenemies of Christ and His Holy Church, the Pope and the Turks”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8ViZi7M5p4

34) Jesus Christ, Who Came to Save
Jesus Christus unser Heiland, der den Tod uberwand (1524)
A Resurrection Hymn with Kyrie.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCF9GBiOm8Q

35) Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein (1523)
Teaches the blessings one receives through faith in Jesus Christ; justification by faith, not works.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJF3xuytmFw

36) To Shepherds as They Watched by Night
Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar (1543)
A Christmas hymn, intended to be sung to the tune Vom Himmel hoch.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJF3xuytmFw

 

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s