LUTHER, Martin.


LUTHER, Martin. Geystliche Lieder. [with] Psalmen und Geystliche Lieder.

[Nuremberg], [Gabriel Heyn], [1558]


8vo. 2 parts in 1, separate t-ps, 200 unnumbered ll., A-Z8 a-b8; 144 unnumbered ll., A-S8. Gothic letter, with Roman and Italic, musical notation. First t-p in red and black, all pages within lovely woodcut border of floral garlands, birds, grotesques and columns (signed VA), 32 full-page woodcut biblical scenes (some repeated), armorial woodcut to last rectos, decorated initials. First t-p and last verso of second a little soiled, small repair at head of first t-p touching woodcut border, tiny worm hole to first four ll., light water stain from upper and outer edge of first four gatherings and last, slight yellowing, the odd marginal spot, couple of ll. slightly browned, lower blank margin of last cut away. A good copy in C19 crimson shagreen, boards and spine gilt, corners, and head and foot of spine a bit rubbed, C20 bookplate of Alfred Cortot to front pastedown, his small initials stamped to lower margin of t-ps, early ms. ‘92’ to upper margin of first t-p.

A good, crisp copy of this scarce collective edition of Luther’s hymns and psalms, beautifully printed and illustrated, with woodcut music notation—’the most influential Lutheran hymnal of the sixteenth century’ (Fisher, 67). This is a posthumous and definitive edition; the first of 1545 was also Luther’s (1483-1546) last lifetime edition. It was based on the ‘Geystliche Lieder’ first published in 1529, which, although it has not survived, was frequently reprinted, revised and enlarged. Unlike his predecessors, Luther stated that ‘except for theology there is no art that could be put on the same level with music’; throughout his Reformed years, he devoted much time to the composition or translation into German of church music. In this edition, the first part comprises 89 hymns, and the second 14 psalms and 56 hymns (not present in the first), some on events of the liturgical year, others scriptural (Lord’s Supper) or theological (law, faith). Luther’s view was that ‘the reforming movement hymns were not only meant to be liturgical, but also expressly catechetical’ (Leaver, ‘Lit. Music’, 110). Their catechetical function was indeed enhanced by the handsome woodcuts designed for books of private devotion. From the library of Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), famous Franco-Swiss pianist and conductor, especially praised for his interpretations of musical classics of the Romantic era.

No copies recorded in the US.BM STC Ger., p.553; VD16 G863. Not in Fairfax Murray. A.J. Fisher, ‘Lutheranism and Calvinism’, in The Cambridge History of Sixteenth-Century Music, ed. I.A. Fenlon (2019), 56-91; R.A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music (2017).

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