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By Adam’s Fall Man’s Frame Entire

Setting by Johann Crüger

“By Adam’s Fall Man’s Frame Entire” (Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt), text by Lazarus Spengler (1524). Setting by Johann Crüger (1649). Homophonic, SATB.
Recording of stanzas 1, 3, 4, and 8. Mount Hope Lutheran Church choir, March 2023.

“By Adam’s Fall Man’s Frame Entire” (of which the hymn “All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall” is a paraphrase) was written by Lazarus Spengler (1479-1534), who was clerk to the city council of Nuremberg, a city that was an early bastion of Lutheranism at the time of the Reformation. Spengler owned quite a collection of Luther’s writings, which he read diligently, and he met Luther in 1518 when the latter was passing through Nuremberg. Spengler wrote two defenses (apologies) of Luther’s doctrine in 1519 and 1523. He is also known for designing Luther’s seal according to specifications that Luther wrote up in a letter. Spengler’s hymn is the only hymn cited in the Lutheran Confessions, appearing in both the Epitome and the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord:

“On the other hand, we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a minor corruption. It is so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt remains in man’s body or soul, in his inward or outward powers. As the Church sings: Through Adam’s fall is all corrupt, / Nature and essence human. This damage cannot be fully described. It cannot be understood by reason, but only from God’s Word. We affirm that no one but God alone can separate human nature and this corruption of human nature from each other. This will fully come to pass through death, in the blessed resurrection. At that time our nature, which we now bear, will rise and live eternally without original sin and be separated and divided from it. As it is written in Job 19:26-27, ‘After my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold'” (Epitome of the Formula of Concord, Article I.8, Original Sin; the hymn is also cited in Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, I.23).

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