The Life of Luther

Luther Restored by Music

Luther had a very strong love for music, and its power over him was great. When he was afflicted with a fit of melancholy, he used to seek comfort therein. Seckendorf (p. 21) says, that “once, when he had shut himself up in his cell for a couple of days, without admitting any one, Edensberg, with some young musicians, knocked at the door, and, obtaining no answer, broke it open. There they found him lying in a fainting fit, and brought him back to life, not so much by medicine or food, as by a ‘concert of music.’”

Luther speaks of this power of music saying: One of the most beautiful and noblest of God’s gifts is music. Satan is a great enemy of it, so that one can drive away many temptations and evil thoughts by means of it. The devil cannot make head against it. It drives away the spirit of melancholy, as we see in King Saul. Music is the best solace to a man in sorrow; it quiets, quickens, and refreshes the heart. It is a gift of God, not a human gift. Hence it drives away the devil, and makes folks cheerful; at the sound of it, one forgets all anger, lust, pride, and other vices. We see how David and all the saints clothed their godly thoughts in verses and song.

Luther Comforted by an Aged Monk

Melanchthon says that Luther often related that he was greatly comforted by the discourse of an old man in the college at Erfurt, who, when he talked to him about his internal conflicts, spoke much to him of faith, and referred him to the Creed, in which we declare our belief in the remission of sins. This article he interpreted, as not merely declaring the belief that some persons will contain forgiveness, but as a Divine commandment that we should each of us believe our own sins to be forgiven.

Mathesius tells the same story. “While he studied and prayed in the convent day and night, chastening and wasting his body by fasting and watching, he was very uneasy and sorrowful, and even his masses gave him no comfort. Then God sent him an old brother in the content for a confessor who comforted him heartily, and directed him to the gracious forgiveness of sins, as it is proclaimed in the Apostles’ Creed, and taught him, out of St. Bernard’s sermons, that he was to believe, with regard to himself, that our merciful God and Father, by the one sacrifice and blood of His Son, had obtained the forgiveness of all sins, and caused this to be declared by the Holy Spirit in the Apostolic Church by the words of the Absolution. This was a living and mighty comfort to his heart; and he often spoke of his confessor with great honor and hearty thankfulness.”

~Gustav Koenig: The Life of Luther in Forty-Eight Historical Engravings

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