One thing you hear, usually from supporters of contemporary worship, is that Luther adapted tavern songs for use in the church. Not so (and the same apparently goes for the Wesleys). According to Dr. Peter Masters of London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle:
Promoters of new worship love to quote Luther as saying, “Why should the devil have all the good tunes?” What they do not tell their hearers is that Luther was talking about Catholic church music, not tavern songs. He was not interested in stealing from the world around him. If, rarely, a secular melody was used, it was very greatly changed, and what else would we expect from the Reformer who wrote:
“Take special care to shun perverted minds who prostitute this lovely gift of nature and of art with their erotic rantings. And be quite assured that none but the devil goads them on to defy their very nature. . . . They purloin the gift of God and use it to worship the foe of God.”
Luther clearly believed that music was to be identified with its source and users. It was the world of those days that stole from the church to obtain a melody line for a bawdy bar song, but not the other way round. …
Does evangelical worship reinvent itself every few decades by adopting new hymn and musical forms, controversial at first, but soon becoming the status quo? Yes, answer the glib advocates of new worship. But let any reader just visit the second-hand bookshop in town, and pick out old hymnbooks. There may be eighteenth-century books there. As you take them up and examine them, you may be surprised to see how many of the hymns are familiar to you. These form the backbone of conservative hymnbooks to this day. … This is because the church of Christ has long had its very own culture of hymns and hymn tunes, formed to suit reverent, intelligent, heartfelt praise, and kept well apart from the world of profanity.