A Mighty Fortress is Our God is one of the most famous hymns written by Martin Luther, the great reformer who established the church’s foundation based on the principles of Christ Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, and Grace Alone.
A Mighty Fortress is Our God is based on Psalm 46 and encourages us to find strength in the Heavenly Father’s infinite love and salvation amid suffering and affliction. A Mighty Fortress is Our God commemorates the absolute power of the Eternal One over the universe and spiritual realms. A Mighty Fortress is Our God rejoices over the sure hope we have in the Almighty Creator because of Jesus Christ His Son, the redeemer of humanity.
A Mighty Fortress is Our God — The Song
A Mighty Fortress is Our God Lyrics by Martin Luther
1 A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2 Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
from age to age the same;
and he must win the battle.
3 And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4 That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever!
Story Behind the Hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Find out the story behind this well-loved hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, which has a special place in the hearts of the Christian faithful. Here is a wonderful story to brighten your day.
Known as “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation,” A Mighty Fortress is Our God, became one of the most powerful hymns of the Protestant Reformation Movement. People sang the words of this hymn when they were persecuted for their convictions during the reformation. A Mighty Fortress is Our God was a great source of strength for people who were martyred for their faith.
Martin Luther wrote the lyrics and composed the melody of A Mighty Fortress is Our God sometime between 1527 and 1529. The hymn declares Martin Luther’s confidence in the Mighty One and his rallying cry for all who profess the Christian faith to war against evil. He victoriously states that we need not fear, as the Loving Father has willed His truth to triumph through us.
The great hymn “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (A Mighty Fortress is Our God) though based on Psalm 46 does not follow the course of the Psalm, it only catches its leading thought. Martin Luther faced many trials and persecutions after he posted 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church on Oct. 31, 1517. Facing many threats against his life and freedom, he found confidence in the Alpha and the Omega’s power. Knowing that the Absolute Being is the only refuge and strength, who is a present help in danger (Psalm 46:1), he wrote “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” proclaiming boldly that we (he) will not tremble at the prince of darkness . . . one little word shall fell him.
The hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, talks of fortresses, ancient foes, strategy, and winning the battle. Martin Luther was battling for his faith when he wrote the hymn. He was going head-to-head with the established church and its officials. Whenever he felt discouraged and depressed, he sang this triumphant song. The hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, became a battle cry of the people and was a thunderous proclamation of their faith in God. During their final moments, many people who were burned at the stake, sung the inspiring stanza, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever.”
A Mighty Fortress is Our God gained immense popularity throughout Europe during the reformation. It was sung by poor Protestant emigrants on their way to exile, at Augsburg during the Diet, and in all the churches of Saxony against the protest of the priests. A Mighty Fortress is Our God embodies boldness, confidence, and defiance in the face of opposition. It became the real national hymn of Protestant Germany.
A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Martin Luther has been translated into almost every known language of the world. There are said to be more than 70 to 80 English translations alone to this hymn. In England, people sing the translation by Thomas Carlyle who introduced the hymn to the country in 1831. However, the version most used in the United States is the translation by Frederic Henry Hedge in 1852.
Meaning of Hymn
A hymn is a song or poem of praise in honor or thanksgiving to God. It is usually sung by the congregation in a church having a metrical and strophic (stanzaic) religious text in the language of a simple and popular kind. Hymns are inseparable from the act of worship. People express their deepest emotions and connect with God through hymns. Hymns are a biblical practice for nurturing the mind, soul, and body.
In the Christian faith, hymns are directed to the one True God, and people have sung hymns in honor of the Supreme Being since the time of Moses (Exodus 15:1). David sang a hymn of praise to God (Psalm 40:3), and Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30) before they went out to the Mount of Olives. The first Christians sang hymns when they met together to worship (1 Corinthians 14:26). Paul and Silas, who were stripped and beaten with rods and thrown into prison with their feet in stocks in a Philippian jail, were praying and singing hymns to God (Acts 16:25).
Hymns proclaim the great acts of God, the undeniable truths of the scripture, and the good news of salvation. They are similar to in-depth, yet compact, and easy-to-understand Bible lessons that lead us to praise, prayer, and gratitude. They are set to music and have rhyme and rhythm. Hymns clear our minds, verbalize our worship and calm our nerves. Hymns lift our eyes upward to the Lord, open our minds to hear and receive God’s Word, and raise our hearts in purest worship of God.