Christian Rock and Roll - Part 9


Didn’t Martin Luther use drinking and bar tunes in his music?


Another excuse the CCMer use to justify their "rock" is: "Hey, Martin Luther used drinking and bar tunes in his music"?

There are two major problems with this "justification":


It is a LIE!

It’s amazing how many times (at least a hundred) I’ve had CCMers tell me "Martin Luther used drinking and bar tunes in his music". And it’s even more amazing what happens when asked to provide documented evidence to their accusation — it cannot be found! In the many, many times I have asked for documentation to their claim, do you know how many produced any evidence? Exactly ZERO! Why? Because it is simply not true.

Here are the documented FACTS:

"Of the melodies to Luther’s 37 chorales, 15 were composed by Luther himself, 13 came from Latin hymns of Latin service music, 4 were derived from German religious folk songs, 2 had originally been religious pilgrims’ songs, 2 are of unknown origin, and one came directly from a secular folk song." (Data compiled from Squire, pp. 446-447; Leupold, ed., Liturgy and Hymns; and Strodach, ed., Works of Martin Luther, VI)

NOTE: The one secular song was from a popular pre-Reformation (not a drinking tune!) secular song, "I Arrived from an Alien Country," and was used as the melody for the Christmas hymn, "From Heaven on High I Come to You", the first stanza Luther patterned after the folk song.
(source: Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 18)

And here's an interesting FACT — not only that, because of it’s worldly association, Luther later changed the tune!

According to historian Paul Nettl, Luther changed the tune because:

"Luther was embarrassed to hear the tune of his Christmas hymn sung in inns and dance halls." (Paul Nettl, Luther and Music, p. 48)

After researching every published work dealing with Luther’s music, Robert Harrell says point-blank:

"None of the works dealing with Luther’s music can trace a single melody of his back to a drinking song." (Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 34)

Harrell also says:

It seems obvious to this writer that using Luther’s music as an historical precedent for using rock and other worldly music in our churches today is completely incongruous with the facts of history.

Luther did not use the barroom songs of his day, nor did he use even the worldly music of his day. In fact, he was extremely cautious in protecting the Word of God from any admixture of worldly elements. This can be seen in his words: ‘I wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people also by means of songs.’"
(Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 36)

Furthermore, Martin Luther was very concerned over the words and tunes of his music.

"But I would like to avoid any new words or the language used at court. [DTM – Is that ever contrary to the CCMers who imitate the rock world’s slang and lingo; like dcTalk’s "Jesus Freak"] In order to be understood by the people, only the simplest and the most common words should be used for singing; at the same time, however, they should be pure and apt; and further, the sense should be clear and as close as possible to the psalm."
(Martin Luther, "To George Spalatin," Letters II, p. 69)

Some of Luther’s most famous chorales are paraphrases of the Psalms, such as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (Psalm 46), "From Deep Distress I Cry to Thee" (Psalm 130), and "Ah, God, from Heaven Look Down" (Psalm 12).

Isn’t it amazing how TOTALLY different the TRUTH is from the CCMers LIE!

"Who changed the TRUTH of God into a LIE, . . ." (Romans 1:25)

Another person CCMer's foolishly try to "recruit" to their "worldly" side is General William Booth. To anyone familiar with the ministry and message of General William Booth, the comparison of Christian Rock to General William Booth is too funny for words. General William Booth and the "old-time" Salvation Army [not to be confused with todays' Salvation Army] carried the message of the blood of Jesus Christ through "the dangers, toils and snares". Booth and his army marched against the "wiles of the wicked one". Here's how the book Born to Battle: The Salvation Army in America begins:

"The mob numbered thousands. They hooted, screamed, spit, cursed, threw refuse and brickbats, and charged with what the press described as 'savage ferocity'."
The assaulted, marching to council in Sheffield, England, did not retaliate but continued to march forward, drums booming, flags flying, singing about the conquering Son of God. The troops were commanded by General William Booth who, despite taunts of 'Kill 'em!' and 'Down with The Salvation Army! stood riding in a open carriage with Mrs. Boothe beside him.
Bruised and bleeding, their uniforms muddied, torn and button less, the forces arrived at their fort shouting, 'Hallelujah'!"
(Sallie Chesham, Born to Battle: The Salvation Army in America, p.21)

Only a CCMer could compare the "worldly-carnal-men-pleasing-compromising-positive-feel-good" CCM to the "street-preaching-hated-gospel-bearer-at-any-cost" General William Booth. To show how COMPLETELY opposite from the "watered-down-partying-feel-good-positive-self-esteem" message of CCM — here's a few quotes by General Booth:

When someone told Booth to "talk about peace".
"No!" William replied, "the best preaching is damnation with the Cross in the middle!" (Ibid p. 37)

"Any profession of Jesus Christ which brings no Cross is all nonsense." (Ibid)

"I don't care how near to the bottom less pit I go in order to save mankind."

"Soul-saving music is the music for me!"

One quote of General Booths that CCMers "use" to justify their carnal-love for rock music is Booth's "If standing on my head and beating a tamborine with my toes will win a soul for Jesus, I will do it." The BIG difference between Booth and CCM is — General Booth meant it! CCMers just quote it to justify their "love" for rock music. As we have documented in several articles most CCMer's hide, disguise or refuse to even name the name of Jesus!

Would General William Booth agree with the CCMer's use of worldly rock music? Not on your life! Here's a quote from General Booth:

"May none of our musicians ever ape [copy] the skill of the world in the production of merely pretty sounds, not only disconnected with the quickening truth of God but often almost inaudible [perfect description of CCM rock] to those whose hearts they ought to stir. (Ibid, p. 188)"

Fanny Crosby, the greatest hymn writer that ever lived, would not make a very good CCMer: Here's what the greatest hymn writer that ever lived said about mixing Christian with worldly music:

"Sometimes I need to reject the music proposed for my songs because the musicians misunderstand that the Fanny Crosby who once wrote for the people in the saloons has merely changed the lyrics. Oh my no. The church must never sing it's songs to the melodies of the world." (Danny Castle, video "What's Wrong with Christian Rock")


Besides being a flat-out LIE — the second problem with the "Hey, Martin Luther used drinking and bar tunes in his music" reasoning is even more serious — It goes completely against the clear teaching of the Word of God: (as does most of CCM)

One way the world justifies their "sin" is: "well, everyone else does it" or "so and so does it, so it must be alright".

Hey — "if he can do it – I can do it!"

But the Bible clearly teaches us NOT to compare "ourselves one with another".

"For we dare NOT make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12

After the resurrection, in John 21, Peter looked at John and asked the Lord Jesus:

"Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?"
John 21:21

Notice what the Lord Jesus told Peter:

"Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."
John 21:22

The Lord Jesus told Peter, don’t worry about John — you just "follow thou me". Get your eyes off of other men — "follow thou me".

While we think a lot of Martin Luther and his role in church history, we would never "follow" Martin Luther — except where Martin followed the Lord Jesus Christ. Either for good or bad. Martin Luther is just another man, an unrighteous sinner.

Again it should be emphasized — Martin Luther did NOT use bar tunes in his music but even if he did, that would not make it RIGHT!

We are to follow ONLY the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow ME." Matthew 16:24:

And we follow the Lord Jesus Christ by obeying the instructions He gave us, in the Word of God.

If you read ALL of our information on Contemporary Christian Music, with an open mind, a willing and obedient heart, you’ll CLEARLY see Contemporary Christian Music does not OBEY the Word of God.


Used by permission; Complied by Dr. Terry Watkins, Th.D.

** Note all references are taken from the King James Version.