Coming up this weekend, we will be observing a special holiday. No, not Halloween, although the observance does fall on October 31st. Not All Saints Day, either, although in fact history suggests to us that this occasion happened in part because of its proximity to All Saints Day. We will be celebrating the October 31st anniversary of Reformation Day, the day in 1517 in which Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Of course, Martin Luther was not only a priest and professor of Theology, but he was also a prolific songwriter. Just as the Reformation changed the course of world history (and helped spur the development of America as the bastion of religious freedom that we know it to be), Martin Luther’s post-Reformation hymns also sparked a musical revolution, completely altering the structure, development and usage of liturgical music. Luther’s numerous hymns became a major inspiration to the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach, who wrote a number of arrangements of Lutheran songs, and whose compositional advances served as a key influence on the development of music in the Western World. Many of Luther’s songs are still sung in churches around the world (surely you’ve heard of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”).
Certainly such an auspicious occasion like this demands some sort of appropriate observance. We shall do so Sunday night, at midnight, on The Galaxy, on WDBX. 91.1FM. Community Radio for Southern Illinois.