Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hymn For The Week: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help on trouble. (Psalm 46: 1)

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God-Instrumental

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God-lyrics

We think of Martin Luther as a great reformer, Bible translator, political leader, fiery preacher, and theologian. But he was also a musician, having been born in an area of Germany known for its music. There in his little Turingian village, young Martin grew up listening to his mother sing. He joined a boys' choir that sang at weddings and funerals. He became proficient with the flute (recorder), and his volcanic emotions often erupted in song. 

When the Protestant Reformation began, Luther determined to restore worship to the German Church. He worked with skilled musicians to create new music for Christians, to be sung in the vernacular. He helped revive congregational singing and wrote a number of hymns.

Often he "borrowed" popular secular melodies for his hymns, through occasionally a tune brought criticism and he was "compelled to let the devil have it back again" because it was to closely associated with bars and taverns.

In the forward of a book, Luther once wrote: "Next to the Word of God, the nimble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds hearts, and spirits....Such a person who does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs."

Luther's most famous hymn is "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott."-"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Based on {Psalm 46, it reflects Luther's awareness of our intense struggle with Satan. In difficulty and danger, Luther would often resort to this song, saying to his associate, "Come, Philipp, let us sing the 46th Psalm."

This is a difficult hymn to translate because the original German is so vivid. At least 80 English version are available. The most popular in America was done by Frederic Henry Hodge.

No comments: