England’s Greatest Musical Legacy

BBC viewers are in for a treat this autumn when Lucy Worsley charts the story of ‘England’s greatest musical legacy’ – choral evensong.

The programme is part of a series of new arts, music and drama commissions on BBC Four to mark the 500th anniversary of The Reformation.

Reformation: The Story of Martin Luther

The BBC has acquired a German drama that tells the story of Martin Luther, the visionary reformer and one of the most important religious figures in history.

500 years ago a revolutionary priest changed the face of Christendom and the path of European civilization forever. Risking his life, academic reputation, facing damnation and purgatory in 1517, he pinned his inflammatory 95 Theses to the church door in the Catholic Church and the Western World would never be the same again. His name was Martin Luther.

It is directed by Uwe Janson and stars Maximilian Brückner as Martin Luther. It was written by Stefan Dähnert and Marianne Wendt, directed by Uwe Janson and its Creative Producer is Martin Bromber.

Evensong: The Story Of England’s Greatest Musical Legacy

For the BBC’s Reformation Season in autumn 2017 Lucy Worsley will investigate the story of the most remarkable creation from that tumultuous and violent era: Choral Evensong.

Henry VIII loved religious music, but he loved power more – when he instigated his English Reformation he dramatically split from the ancient Catholic Church that controlled much of his country. But in doing so set into motion changes that would fundamentally transform the religious music he loved.

Following Elizabeth I’s personal story Lucy will recount how she and her two siblings were shaped by the changes their father instigated. Elizabeth witnessed both her radically puritan brother Edward bring Church music to the very brink of destruction and the terrifying reversals made by her sister Mary – which saw her thrown in the tower of London forced to beg for her life.

When Elizabeth finally took power she was determined to find a religious compromise – she resurrected the protestant religion of her brother but kept the music of her beloved father – music that she too adored. And it was in the evocative service of choral Evensong that her ideas about religious music found their ultimate expression.

Books Of The Reformation With Janina Ramirez

Nina Ramirez tells the story of three books that defined this radical religious revolution in England.

Tyndale’s New Testament, The Book of Common Prayer and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs are no longer commonly recognised titles. Yet, for over four hundred years, these works formed the backbone of British life. Their words shaped the English language; fuelled religious division; and sparked wars.

She explains how the trio of texts had a powerful cumulative effect. Tyndale’s Bible made the word of God accessible to the common man for the first time, The Book of Common Prayer established a protestant liturgy and Foxes Book of Martyrs enshrined a hatred of Catholicism. Nina reveals how they formed the nation’s protestant identity, the impact of which can be seen even today.