Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Herzberger, F. W. "Luther's Hymn 'Ein' feste Burg.'" In Four Hundred Years: Commemorative Essays on the Reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and Its Blessed Results, ed. W. H. T. Dau, 159-72. St. Louis: Concordia, 1917.

Perhaps the quintessential Lutheran hymn, Ein feste Burg embodies Martin Luther's faith and had lasting musical effects, not only on his own generation but also on generations of composers to come. The verse structure of Psalm 46 appealed to Luther most strongly in the last line, which stands on its own in the rhyme scheme and makes the text more powerful, as though one could reduce the psalm to a simple statement of faith. Further, Luther's musical setting, with three repeated notes to begin the tune, made a lasting impression on future composers. Some composers, such as J. S. Bach and Mendelssohn, use the tune in order to let it emerge from a complex texture, reinforcing its victorious and ultimately religious connotations. Others, including Meyerbeer, use the tune for programmatic rather than religious purposes, as the tune accompanies "undressing girls." The diversity of uses, whether religious or not, reflects the lasting power of Luther's original.

Works: J. S. Bach: "Ein feste Burg" from In Festo Reformationis, BWV 80 (166); Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots (167); Reinecke: Zur Reformationsfeier, Op. 191 (167); Wagner: Huldigungsmarsch (167); Nicolai: Kirchliche Fest-Ouvertüre über "Ein feste Burg" (167); Raff: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, Op.127 (167); Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Reformation (167-68).

Sources: Martin Luther: Ein feste Burg (159-66).

Index Classifications: 1700s, 1800s

Contributed by: Katie Lundeen

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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