A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

So Did Zwingli Ever Chuck The Keys of The Church Organ into The River?

Ever had those questions that kept you awake on Saturday nights? Well if those questions are about Huldrych Zwingli who better to ask than Dr. Jim West.

Every now and again I’ll be debunking myths and legends related to the life of Huldrych Zwingli.  That because 1) too few people actually read Zwingli.  And 2) too many people read about Zwingli in sources that aren’t always reliable.

It was related by a Professor of Church History to our undergrad class (back in the early 80′s) that when Zwingli rejected the playing of organs at Zurich’s churches that he took the key to the organ at the Grossmunster and tossed it in the Limmat, the river that bisects Zurich and empties into the Lake Zurich.

That Professor was wrong.  He was merely repeating a legend he had either heard or he made it up himself (the same way Scott Bailey does when he writes about Zwingli, by the way- evidently forgetting that Rev 21:8 proclaims that all liars have their place in the lake of fire).

I have combed all the primary sources, the major biographies by Potter, Morikofer, Locher, and Farner, consulted with every Historian familiar with Zwingli’s life including my colleagues in the Zwingliverein as well as WP Stephens and Diarmaid MacCulloch and none have ever heard of such a deed.

That myth is simply busted.  So if anyone ever tells you that Zwingli threw the key of the organ into the river you can confidently assert- no he didn’t!

[Excerpted from Debunking Zwinglian Myths]

Next question…

One response to “So Did Zwingli Ever Chuck The Keys of The Church Organ into The River?

  1. jim March 11, 2011 at 22:26

    michael- the answer to your question is no. there’s no evidence in any source that that particular myth has any basis in reality. it’s just another of those stories people make up because they sound clever.

    zwingli locked the organ in the grossmunster and put the key away. and he did so for two reasons:

    1- because the organist was on an ego trip and was doing his best to make worship about himself rather than God.

    and 2-

    the singing was so bad that dogs in the church (yes, hunters actually brought their dogs to church and had them sit at their feet during worship) would howl and create a riotous scene.

    in other words, music had come to the point that instead of aiding worship, it destroyed it.

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