Pia Freund. Photo: Antti Hannuniemi.
Thu 15.6.2017 09.00 pm Cathedral, Espoo
Organ Night and Aria Festival
Wed 15.11.2017 07.00 pm Cathedral, Kuopio
Kuopio Church Music Week
Fri 17.11.2017 07.00 pm St. Paul’s Church, Helsinki

Try Me, Good King

The many faces of the Reformation

Buxtehude – Byrd – des Prez – Hassler – Larsen – Piae Cantiones

Pia Freund, soprano
FiBO Players:
Pauliina Fred, recorder and traverso
Louna Hosia, viola da gamba
Petteri Pitko, harpsichord and organ (Espoo) / Anna-Maaria Oramo, harpsichord and organ (Kuopio and Helsinki)


The song collection Piae Cantiones (Pious Songs), published by Theodoricus Petri in 1582 in Germany, represents the earliest preserved Finnish musical heritage. The Latin songs in the collection are religious tunes that were sung in Finland in the time before the Reformation. The Reformation considerably changed church practices in the first half of the 16th century, but Piae Cantiones and the many later versions of the collection conveyed the medieval musical heritage to modern times.

The Reformation had begun in the early 16th century Germany by the demands for reformation regarding the religious doctrine and practices of the Catholic Church made by Martin Luther and other theologians. The Protestant Church, rising as a result of the Reformation, made the Bible its highest authority. Everyone in the congregation was to have access to the holy word in their own language. Luther’s student Mikael Agricola’s Finnish translation of the New Testament was a remarkable step in the development of written Finnish. 

Music gained a substantial position in the services of the Protestant Church, and the clearest reformation was that hymns were sung in the language of the people. Martin Luther wanted the congregation to participate in the service by singing, and for this purpose, new vernacular lyrics, appropriate for the Protestant doctrine, were written to common Gregorian chants and folk songs. 

The motives of the Reformation were in many countries also political, because the reforms gave the rulers a chance to overtake the worldly power that had been possessed by the Catholic Church, and to get access to the riches of the Catholic Church. In Sweden this happened during the reign of King Gustav Vasa (1523–1560), and in England, King Henry VIII’s (1491–1547) withdrawal from the Pope gave rise to the Anglican Church. King Henry VIII is, however, better remembered in history books for his six wives, whose harsh fates are processed in the song cycle Try Me, Good King by American Libby Larsen.

Duration: 1 h 30 min (incl. intermission), in Espoo 1 h (no intermission)