Ein feste Burg
Luther’s hymns and Protestant church music from Leipzig
Schein – Kuhnau – J. S. Bach – Luther
Tuuli Lindeberg, soprano
Katariina Heikkilä, alto
Juho Punkeri, tenor
Sampo Haapaniemi, bass
Tapiola Chamber Choir
Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Hannu Norjanen, conductor
In 1517, Martin Luther (1483–1546) nailed his famous theses to the door of the All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg. This launched his long fight against the Catholic Church, in which a key event was the Leipzig Debate in the summer of 1519. Luther was accused of heresy, and he had to publicly defend his opinions in the questioning organised at the University of Leipzig.
Due to the Reformation, Leipzig turned into a major centre for Protestant belief during the following centuries. The St. Thomas Church of Leipzig has remained in the history of music thanks to its several acclaimed cantors. In the beginning of the 17th century, the post was held by Johann Hermann Schein. In the early 18th century, the musical director of the St. Thomas Church was Johann Kuhnau, who was succeeded by Johann Sebastian Bach. The all employed Lutheran hymns and chorales in their church music.
One of the innovations of the Reformation was including the congregation in the service by letting them sing hymns in their own language. For this purpose, Luther composed numerous chorales and wrote new lyrics to old familiar melodies, for example, to the medieval antiphon Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott. The most well-known of Luther’s chorales is probably Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, which is known in English as A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
Duration: 1 h (no intermission)