Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott
Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott,
Ein gute Wehr und Waffen;
Er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
Die uns jetzt hat betroffen.
Der alt’ böse Feind,
Mit Ernst er’s jetzt meint,
Gross’ Macht und viel List
Sein’ grausam’ Ruestung ist,
Auf Erd’ ist nicht seingleichen.
Mit unsrer Macht is nichts getan,
Wir sind gar bald verloren;
Es steit’t für uns der rechte Mann,
Den Gott hat selbst erkoren.
Fragst du, wer der ist?
Er heisst Jesu Christ,
Der Herr Zebaoth,
Und ist kein andrer Gott,
Das Feld muss er behalten.
Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär’
Und wollt’ uns gar verschlingen,
So fürchten wir uns nicht so sehr,
Es soll uns doch gelingen.
Der Fürst dieser Welt,
Wie sau’r er sich stellt,
Tut er uns doch nicht,
Das macht, er ist gericht’t,
Ein Wörtlein kann ihn fällen.
Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn
Und kein’n Dank dazu haben;
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan
Mit seinem Geist und Gaben.
Nehmen sie den Leib,
Gut, Ehr’, Kind und Weib:
Lass fahren dahin,
Sie haben’s kein’n Gewinn,
Das Reich muss uns doch bleiben.
Martin Luther who wrote the words once said, 'the Devil hates music because he cannot stand gaiety,' and 'Satan can smirk but he cannot laugh; he can sneer but he cannot sing.'
Because he believed in the power of song the great reformer spent a lot of time compiling a hymn book for use in congregational singing.
One writer has said that 'Luther translated the Bible into German so God could speak directly to the people; and provided the hymn so that the people could answer God in their songs.'
Luther is credited with thirty-seven hymns, by far the most popular being, "A Mighty Fortress".
It was written in 1529 at time when Luther and his followers were going through a particularly rough patch of opposition; with the Emperor, Charles V, seemingly determined to suppress the new movement.
During those days of struggle Luther turned often to Psalm forty six and was greatly encouraged by the words of verse one, 'God's our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.'
Soon a song was inspired, and Luther began in fine style with the bold declaration - 'Ein feste burg ist unswer Gott' - 'A sure stronghold our God is He.' It was Frederick Hedge, in his translation of 1852 who changed this to the more familiar "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".
Luther's original composition became immediately popular with the common people of reformation Germany, being sung continually in the streets and chanted by the martyrs as they awaited their grim fate. What a moving sound that must have made!
At this point mention must be made of the music, that rich, melodious yea, majestic tune which lifts the words and carries them along with all the pomp and grace of a national anthem.
Considerable dispute surrounds the origin of the music, with some attributing it to Luther himself. Others give the honour to the great J.S. Bach; and it's true that Bach did use the tune as the basis of one of his many chorales.
However, Bach was not born until 1685, over a hundred and fifty years after Luther's great hymn first appeared. It seems clear then, that Martin Luther rightly deserves the credit, if not for the original composition, at least for adapting it, possibly from an old German folk tune.
Much more important than the music however, is the message- and what a message this great hymn has for the people of God!
It turns their eyes and thoughts away from the afflictions of this world, and the opposition of Satanic hosts, and fixes them upon the person of the Lord Jesus - the Lord Sabaoth as Luther so rightly refers to Him in one of the verses ...