Hymns for the Family: A Mighty Fortress is our God
Hymns for the Home
Hymns for the Home is a series that will highlight hymns and worship music that are great for family worship. They are chosen for their Biblical and spiritual content, as well as their simplicity.
(FREE Song Lyrics Printable)
A Mighty Fortress is our God is a Christian anthem of faith. In this hymn, Martin Luther reminds the singing of our utter dependence on the God of our salvation.
Remember the Battle
Martin Luther understood the spiritual battle better than most. He constantly wrote of his battle with the enemy and understood their attacks to be real and tangible. This hymn reminds us of the truth that our struggle is "not against flesh and blood." (Ephesians 6:12)
Remember Your Weakness
In the battle with the enemy, our weaknesses are quickly exposed. Our power is not enough on our own. Luther reminds us that "Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing."
Remember Gods Strength
Event though our strength should wain before a strong enemy, we should not tremble, for from the mouth of God "one little word shall fell him." He is not match for the God of our salvation. Sing this song with confidence that God will win the day and we will celebrate with Him.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church at Wittenburg. A few years later, Luther officially broke with Rome at the Diet of Worms and thus became known as the leader of the German Reformation. Throughout his lifetime and ministry, Luther spent numerous hours on theological writings and, most famously, his translation of the Bible from Latin to German. However, another passion and skill of Luther was his work as a hymnodist (Latin for Hymn writer and compiler) . Luther published thirty-seven hymns alongside all his other influential works. Among these thirty-seven hymns was one that would become one of the most famous hymns in Protestant history: "Ein Feste Burg is Unser Gott".
"Ein Feste Burg is Unser Gott" (English: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God") first appeared in Form und Ordnung Gaystlicher Gesang und Psalmen (Augsburg, 1529). There is some uncertainty about the date of Luther's authorship. Some believe it was written as a tribute to Luther's friend Leonhard Kaiser, who was martyred just a couple years before the hymn's first publishing. Other historians think it may have been authored in 1529, as that was also the year of the second Diet of Speyer, when the German princes made their formal "protest" against Rome, acquiring the moniker of "Protestants." Regardless, the hymn began to spread rapidly after its publication and many began to see it as the national anthem of the Reformation. It was even sung on the battlefield of Leipzig in 1631 during the Thirty Years' War.
It's not difficult to understand that the popularity of this hymn, let alone its Lutheran authorship, would lead to its translation into English. The first of which appeared in 1535 in Miles Coverdale's Goostly Psalmes and Spiritual Songes. Today, there are over 100 English translations of this beautiful hymn. However, it was in 1853 when a Unitarian minister, Frederic Henry Hedge, provided what is the most common translation that appears today. Frederic was more than qualified to attempt a translation of this classic, German hymn. Frederic, born in 1805, was the son of a Harvard college professor and moved to Germany when he was 12 to study music and complete his primary schooling. In 1828, Hedge completed his graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School and began his ministry. After roughly thirty years of ministry work, Frederic was then appointed Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge in 1857, and then Professor of German Literature at Harvard in 1872 where he taught until his retirement in 1881. It is Frederic's respectable and supremely-competent translation that is being used in this Hymn for the Home series. It is because of Frederic's efforts that numerous churches and Christians throughout the world are able to join with Luther in echoing Psalm 46's proclamation of the sovereignty of God and that He is our "mighty fortress."
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