Catholics were the first to speak Latin

Who was the first to preach in German? Was it Martin Luther or someone else? How was the transition from Latin to German in the Catholic and Protestant liturgies? Who preached: only the bishop? B. S., 99894 Friedrichroda


1. Since the vast majority of people in Central Europe could not speak Latin and were also illiterate, theologians almost always preached in their mother tongue. However, the word “sermon” was a different expression for many types of preaching until modern times - including after the Reformation. There were also religious addresses in marketplaces, catechesis, lectures “sermons”.

2. Martin Luther was not the first to translate biblical texts into German. There is already an Old High German translation of the Gospel of Matthew from the 9th century. Up to the Reformation, around 70 other translations of Bible texts into German followed. But Luther did produce the most successful and momentous translation of the entire Bible over the centuries.

3. The liturgy of Mass and prayers such as the Lord's Prayer or Ave Maria have been spoken in Latin for a very long time in the Western Church. Initially, Latin remained predominant in the churches of the Reformation as well. At the same time, from 1522/23 onwards, some reformers spoke individual mass texts in German; In addition, the liturgy should be more faithful to the Bible. In 1526 Luther published his own German Mass, which was changed several times in the following years. The Catholic mass has only been held in the mother tongue since the liturgical reform in 1969/71.

4. In the early days of Christendom, the elders of a church primarily preached. Then this task centered on the bishop in order to uphold correct doctrine.

From the early Middle Ages, the bishop again delegated the preaching to monks and pastors. Because Catholic clergy were often too illiterate to deliver decent sermons, the Council of Trent (1545–63) had to reform and improve their training.

From Roland Juchem