Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

A Reformation Too Far

on 25 October 2009

Today, for those of you who don’t go to Lutheran churches and thereby may be in ignorance, is Reformation Sunday. Having never been in Lutheran circles before, I didn’t know until last week that such a day was observed in America. I remember when Psalmyary came to our area, and talked about having Reformation day in Belarus- but here in America? We weren’t even founded at that time, so why should we even be concerned with this? Anyway, Psalmyary had a great song about the Reformation, and if I could find it on YouTube, I’d share it with you. Belarus apparently hasn’t hit the interwebs too hard yet. But I digress….

Martin Luther, Lutherans, Reformation, Wittenburg, Theses… oh yes, it all makes sense now. The Lutheran church we are currently attending changed up its routine, and did a “traditional” service, complete with singing only hymns written by the great Martin Luther. It all made perfect sense.

I’m not against hymns, but I don’t get a chance to sing many; consequently, I knew only one hymn of the nine set up to sing this morning going into the service – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. It was placed nearish the end, and I was looking forward to it. At this point it may be helpful to explain that when I say “know”, I mean hand-me-a-violin-I’ll-play-it-from-memory-while-singing-the-words-because-I-watched-Davy-and-Goliath-growing-up. I had this one covered. So the organ starts, and proceeds to play the verse once through before we all started to sing. The first few notes I thought “oh dear, the organist  is fumbling”. The next few lines I thought “oh my, the organist must be a frustrated Jazz musician. This has a little beat to it.” By the time we started singing I looked down at the hymnal and realized “oh my word; they’ve change the words and the music!”

Reformation itself, by definition, is “an improvement (or an intended improvement) in the existing form or condition of institutions or practices.” This hymn was no such improvement. The congregation couldn’t keep up, the words lost all meaning, and the majesty of the music was turned into a breakneck display of syncopation. It left me and my family speechless. I understand improvement, I understand change. This was no improvement, and an unwelcome change. Excuse me now, I have to go listen to the real hymn….


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