TO GEORGE SPALATIN
Luther again begs him to help him with Church hymns.
Grace and peace! I wish to follow the example of the prophets and Church fathers, and compose German Psalms for the people; that is, spiritual songs, so that the Word of God may dwell among them through the hymn. Therefore, we are seeking poets everywhere. Hence, you being such a master of the German tongue and so eloquent, I beg you to lend a hand here, and turn one of these Psalms into a hymn, according to this pattern. But avoid Court terms, to enable the common people to understand the words, which must flow smoothly, and the language be pure. But free scope is
allowed, and if one understand his work, he can express himself as he will. I have not this gift, and would not be pleased with my own work. Therefore I shall search if a Heman, an Asaph, or a Jeduthum can be found anywhere. I shall also ask Johann Dolzig, he being rich in words and eloquent; so you will do your part when you have leisure. Meantime, you have my seven Penitential
Psalms, with the exposition thereupon, from which you can gather their meaning; or, if you prefer me to point out the Psalms you should take, the first might be, “Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger,” “Lord, hear my prayer,” the second. And John Dolzig might paraphrase, “Happy is the man,” for I
have already translated “Aus tiefer Noth” (130th Psalm). But if these be too difficult, take “Rejoice in the Lord,” 33rd Psalm, or Psalm 103. Write which I shall leave for you.
May you prosper in the Lord. MARTIN LUTHER .