Martin Luther and the organ by Robin A. Leaver

by Robin A. Leaver | Het ORGEL | Year 106 | (2010) | Issue 3

Robin A. Leaver Martin Luther and the organ
Het ORGEL 106 (2010), nr. 3, 4-11 [summary]

In past centuries the reformer Martin Luther has often been portrayed as someone who strongly criticized the use of the organ in the liturgy. Indeed Luther expressed himself negatively about the organ on many occasions. But it is doubtful whether the reformer from Wittenberg condemned the organ as a liturgical instrument on principle.
Some negative remarks about the sound of the organ should perhaps be ascribed to the imperfect development of the instrument in the area of Germany where Luther lived, rather than to a principled rejection of organs. But Luther’s negative remarks about the organ had more a theological than an audiological background. Luther’s criticism was not directed so much at the organ itself as at its misuse in the Roman catholic liturgies. Moreover, Luther’s negative comments about the organ date from the beginning of the reformation, before he worked on the reformation of the liturgy in Wittenberg. In later years the reformer appears even to have stimulated good use of the organ in the liturgy.


Martin Luther 1529 Uffizi by Lucas Cranach der ältere,


Tombe of Luther in Wittenberg Photo: Jan Smelik