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Luther found very much delight in music. After his marriage it was his custom once a week to have a musical entertainment at his house, when instrumental and vocal selections were given, and Christmas was always kept with great gayety. Luther himself was an excellent singer, accompanying himself upon the guitar, and he composed music for several of his hymns. The most celebrated of these compositions is his Battle Hymn. No translator has ever been able to reproduce in forcible English the spirit and sublimity of the orig­inal. The Marseillaise of the Reformation, as Heine well says, was this veritable war song, Ein Feste Burg. " Upon its theme," remarks Dr. Leonard W. Bacon, " the composers of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen­turies practiced their artifice. The supreme genius of Sebastian Bach made it the subject of study. And in our own times it has been used with conspicuous effect
in Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony, in an over ture by Raff, in the noble Festouverture of Nicolai,. and in Wagner's Kaiser Marsch; and it is introduced with recurring emphasis in Meyerbeer's masterpiece of the ' Huguenots.'" The earliest hymn-book of the Reformation—if not the earliest of all printed h\ mn-books—was published at Wittenberg in 1524, and con­tained eight hymns, four of them from the pen of Luther himself. An interesting letter from the com­poser, John Walter, capellmeister to the Elector of Saxony, embodies his reminiscenses of his illustrious friend as a church musician. When Walter asked Luther how he came by his good taste and knowledge to fit all the notes to the text according to the "just ac­cent and concent,' the answer was: "I learned this of the poet Virgil, who has the power so artfully to adapt his verses and his words to the story that he is telling."
" Ein Feste Burg."

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III