Was Martin Luther the first contemporary Christian musician?

2 Samuel 22:2 2He said: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

Psalm 46:7 7The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 91:2 2I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

2 Samuel 22:1 - 51

ESV - 1 And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.

Clarify Share Report Asked June 21 2019 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I would say that Luther wrote multiple hymns (both the words and the music) that were based on passages from Scripture such as those noted in the question, including "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (translated into English as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"), and that have become standard church music in German, English, and other translated formats throughout Christendom. (He also made the Bible accessible to the common German people by translating it into German.)

However, whether he would be viewed as the "first" of the "contemporary" Christian musicians would depend on one's definition of the word contemporary. He would definitely be more recent than the early church fathers, but he still lived and died almost five hundred years ago. Also, modern-day Christian music encompasses many different musical forms that go beyond what Luther wrote, and that one might not necessarily expect to find in a church hymnal.

I'd say that it would be sufficient to recognize Luther's timeless contribution to Christian-themed music (along with other prolific hymn writers such as Isaac Watts), without the need to get sidetracked by discussions of what would be considered "contemporary" and what would not. However, if "contemporary" is taken to designate music that will never lose its relevance in any age, and that will always remain meaningful, I would say that Luther's hymns definitely fit that description.

June 22 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Daniel Donaldson Bible teacher, author of The Mystery of the Blood Covenants
In my opinion the answer is an emphatic yes. Consider the gist of the question as it would relate to our current century. Today there are many forms of religious expression in the church that include music. "Traditional" Christian church services today might indeed include 500 year old hymns such as those of Martin Luther in their line up. While the message is good, the delivery is a bit dated. In context this could be juxtaposed with songs with a more modern and amplified sound performed at the K-Love Music Awards by Matthew West or Michael W. Smith. 

Lutheran and Presbyterian churches in my city known for their traditional approach to a Sunday service also add a separate auditorium and "contemporary" service with songs that resonate with a younger or more charismatic crowd from the aforementioned contemporary artists. The same pastor visits both services and delivers the exact same message, but the whole atmosphere is different in the contemporary service. These churches are to be commended for realizing that the constraints of catechism, candle lighting and centuries old songs could obscure the message of the gospel from a new generation. 

An interesting fact is brought to light on this subject by Eric Metaxas in his epic new biography, "Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World." His point is that when Martin Luther liberated Christianity from the old wine skin of Catholicism, he also was compelled to liberate it from the old wine skin of its music. New songs contemporary to his day affirming (in the language of the people, not Latin) a good God of love and grace and personal relationship - had to be written. Luther took the Bible that was hidden by tradition and language, literally sequestered in cloisters, and placed it in the hands of the people in their own language. He realized that the message in the music had to also be understandable, resonating its message in church and outside of its hallowed walls. So Luther wrote an amazing amount of lyrics, and melodies, and performed them. It was music that complimented and communicated a lifestyle of worship, not a just a form of worship. It was; contemporary. And for that reason I submit that Martin Luther was indeed the first contemporary Christian musician.

July 01 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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