Resources for Devotion and Education
This page includes a variety of resources for studying and enjoying Lutheran music from the 16th-18th centuries, with a focus on choral music. Click on an item under the Page Contents menu to explore that section.
Listen to Lutheran Music has links to Spotify playlists and a spreadsheet showing which of Bach’s chorale settings correspond to tunes still in use in Lutheran hymnals.
Performance Guides correspond to videos of Lutheran works, such as the St. Matthew and St. John Passions. The guides include the original language text with a side-by-side English translation, time stamps, references to modern Lutheran hymnals, and scores.
Further Reading has a list of good books about Lutheran composers, their music, and the hymn tradition of the Lutheran Church, along with external links where the books can be purchased.
Links take you to a variety of external sites where you can learn more about Lutheran composers and the preservation of our Lutheran choral heritage.
Listen to Lutheran Music
Bach Chorales Corresponding to Hymnals
Many of Bach’s chorale settings are for hymn texts and tunes that we still sing today. The document available below contains a table of all the chorales that correspond to Lutheran hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, and Lutheran Service Book. The linked Spotify playlist contains all 296 chorale settings referenced in the document.
Below are some Spotify playlists that we’ve put together and enjoy listening to in our homes, classrooms, and vehicles. Most of the songs are by Lutheran composers, though a few come from other sources. They all fall in the realm of sacred music. Note that the embedded playlists here are only previews; if you have a Spotify subscription, you can open them in Spotify to listen to them in full.
Advent & Christmas
End of Church Year
Bach to Church Recordings
Listen to Bach to Church Recordings
You can listen to all the Bach to Church recordings in a single playlist, right here on the Bach to Church website! Simply click the button below to link to the page.
St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244)
This guide includes the original German text of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with a side-by-side English translation by Kantor Reuning and Matthew Carver. There are hymn references to The Lutheran Hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, and Lutheran Service Book for the chorale movements. Chorale scores are from bach-chorales.com, and time stamps correspond to the video-recorded performance by the Netherlands Bach Society. This is a wonderful devotion during the season of Lent, and a great resource for Lutheran schools and homeschools. Listeners will recognize some familiar hymns, like Lamb of God, Pure and Holy; O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken; Upon the Cross Extended; O Sacred Head, Now Wounded; The Will of God Is Always Best; In Thee, Lord, Have I Put My Trust; and Commit Whatever Grieves Thee.
Praetorius Christmas Mass
This guide corresponds to the Christmas Mass performed by the Gabrieli Consort and conducted by Paul McCreesh. The music is drawn mostly from the works of Michael Praetorius and follows a typical order of service for Lutheran churches. The guide includes the German/Latin text alongside English translations, some of which were done specifically for this document. Listeners will recognize hymns such as From Heaven Above to Earth I Come; We All Believe in One True God; Isaiah, Mighty Seer; How Lovely Shines the Morning Star; and Now Sing We, Now Rejoice.
St. John Passion (BWV 245)
This guide includes the original German text of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion with a side-by-side English translation by Kantor Reuning and Matthew Carver. There are hymn references to The Lutheran Hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, and Lutheran Service Book for the chorale movements. Chorale scores are from bach-chorales.com, and time stamps correspond to the video-recorded performance by the Netherlands Bach Society. This is a wonderful devotion during the season of Lent, and a great resource for Lutheran schools and homeschools. Listeners will recognize some familiar hymns, such as O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken; Our Father, Who From Heaven Above; Upon the Cross Extended; Farewell I Gladly Bid Thee; and Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart.
Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart (BuxWV 41)by Dieterich Buxtehude
This is a masterful 20-minute arrangement of the three stanzas of Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich, o Herr (Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart). The vocal score and complete score are available below. For an English text, see TLH 429, ELH 406, or LSB 708. This piece begins at 22:05 in the linked video.
Terpsichore by Michael Praetorius
Terpsichore (terp-SIC-uh-ree) refers to a collection of several hundred dances that Praetorius wrote, the scores of which can be adapted to a variety of instruments. This guide contains the scores corresponding to a video by Voices of Music, which contains six pieces. Listeners will recognize the fifth movement as Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. There are larger selections from the Terpsichore available from a variety of music distributors.
Here are some books for further reading on Lutheran composers and their music. We also have brief bios of Johann Walter, Johannes Eccard, Michael Praetorius, Heinrich Schütz, Samuel Scheidt, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Johann Sebastian Bach, right here on the Bach to Church website (see the Composers drop-down in the menu). Be sure to check out the Links section for free online resources. Note that we do not receive any incentive for listing these particular books.
Featured: Dahn Edition of the Bach Chorales
This is our favorite print version of Bach’s chorale settings.
Arranged by BWV number, this new 219–page edition of 420 Bach four–part chorales is the most comprehensive edition available. Each meticulously–notated chorale, presented with its original German text, is accompanied with thorough contextual information. The 41–page appendix includes indexes by chorale melody title, by chorale tune composers and origins, by melody (scale–degree), by chorale text and author, by liturgical occasion, by date of first performance.
Music in Early Lutheranism
Features biographies of Johann Walter, Georg Rhau, Hans Leo Hassler, Michael Praetorius, Johann Hermann Schein, Samuel Scheidt, and Heinrich Schütz.
Johann Sebastian Bach and Liturgical Life in Leipzig
A thorough overview of the liturgical life of Leipzig in Bach’s day and an insightful look at Bach’s personal piety in church music.
The New Bach Reader
A compilation of primary sources about J. S. Bach, including his earliest biographies. This is a great complement to any Bach biography.
Heaven Is My Fatherland: The Life and Work of Michael Praetorius
A detailed biography of Michael Praetorius, including his historical setting and many primary sources.
A Heinrich Schütz Reader
A collection of primary sources concerning the life of the Lutheran composer Heinrich Schütz.
The Cantatas of J. S. Bach
This large book includes the German texts of Bach’s cantatas along with English translations, detailed notes on each cantata, and a fascinating introduction about the development of the cantata. While the book is a bit pricy, it is the perfect companion for listening to or watching performances of Bach’s cantatas.
J. S. Bach and Scripture: Glosses from the Calov Bible Commentary
Bach wrote notes in his personal Bible, and this book has facsimile pages of those notes, along with explanations. It offers insight into the piety and thinking of one of the greatest composers who ever lived.
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician
A thorough biography of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Harmonising Bach Chorales
For those interested in Bach’s music theory, this book goes through his chorale settings and highlights various points of his compositional technique, with exercises along the way.
The Essential Bach Choir
This book makes the argument that Bach ordinarily only used one voice per part when performing cantatas in church. Along the way, it gives a deeper look at the resources Bach had at his disposal, what he had to accomplish each Sunday, and how he made it all work.
The Whole Church Sings
A look at the history of the earliest hymnals in the Lutheran Church, including many anecdotes about the development of Lutheran hymnody at the time of the Reformation.
Excellent site for viewing the German text and settings of Bach’s chorales, along with other details about each chorale.
Great site for studying Bach’s cantatas. Find translations and information, plus see how the cantatas line up with the Church Year.
The best English versions of Bach’s cantata texts, translated by men who have studied Lutheran theology.