Document of the month

Document of the month celebrates archival documents within the PRONI collections that are particularly unusual or that tie in to notable dates in the calendar.

October 2017: The Luther commemoration 1883

To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 30, PRONI’s Document of the Month is an original programme with hymns used at the Luther Commemoration on 10 to 12 November 1883.  The programme related to a series of public events held at the Metropolitan Hall Dublin to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth.

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original programme with hymns used at the Luther Commemoration original programme with hymns used at the Luther Commemoration original programme with hymns used at the Luther Commemoration original programme with hymns used at the Luther Commemoration

The programme can be found in the Johnston of Ballykilbeg Papers (PRONI Reference D880/7/3).  It includes two of the thirty-six hymns that Luther composed from 1524 to 1543.  In 1524, Luther was reported to compose ‘Out of the depths I cry to Thee’, and after his death on 18 February 1546, citizens of Wittenberg, Germany gathered around his coffin to sing this hymn. 

The first line of a hymn he composed in 1529, ‘A safe stronghold our God is still’ is carved on Luther’s Monument at Wittenberg.  Several other pamphlets and tracts collected by William Johnston MP, on various religious subjects including the Protestant Reformation, can be found in this archive.

The commemorative programme highlighted the legacy of Martin Luther’s influence on religious music with material sourced from PRONI’s archives.

The 500th anniversary of Reformation exhibition centred on the documents themselves, each offering their own distinct perspectives, on the reformation period and its legacy.

Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German priest, composer, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.   Luther initiated the Reformation on 31 October 1517, when he wrote to his bishop, Albrecht von Brandenburg, in protest against several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", which came to be known as the Ninety-Five Theses.

PRONI and Libraries NI exhibition, ‘From the Medieval to the Modern: Reformation, Transformation and Continuity was available to view at PRONI from 30 November to 15 December 2017.  The exhibition toured libraries from December 2017. 

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