A Mighty Fortress

“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.  He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.  He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:7-11

I did a search for the correct way to say the name of hymn sung on Sunday in Haitian Creole; “Yon mighty foterès se Bondye nou an.”  It is really fascinating to read about the history of that hymn and consider that Martin Luther wrote the words and music without a computer.  “A Mighty Fortress" is one of the best loved hymns of the Lutheran tradition and it has been called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation" for the effect it had in increasing the support for the Reformers' cause.  The German version, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" was sung by Luther and his companions as they entered Worms on 16 April 1521 for the DietJean-Henri Merle d'Aubigné wrote that it was sung by the German Lutheran princes as they entered Augsburg for the Diet in 1530 at which the Augsburg Confession was presented.  The earliest hymnal in which it appears is that of Andrew Rauscher (1531), but it is supposed to have been in Joseph Klug's Wittenberg hymnal of 1529, of which no copy exists.  I have heard it sung in Haitian Creole and after just hearing the first ten notes I knew what the congregation was singing and they knew that I too was familiar with the hymn by singing along in English.  Back in the day, Luther probably had a piano or organ to accompany this hymn and many Lutheran congregations in the U.S. last Sunday added brass, string and percussion in their celebration of Reformation Day and the worshippers in this preaching station in the Plateau Central of Haiti sang acapella.  I am closing today with the words from the hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’ that were written by Martin Luther in 1527 at the age of 44.

“A mighty Fortress is our God, a trusty Shield and Weapon; He helps us free from every need that hath us now o'ertaken.  The old evil Foe now means deadly woe; deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight; on Earth is not his equal.  With might of ours can naught be done, soon were our loss effected; but for us fights the Valiant One, whom God Himself elected.  Ask ye, Who is this?  Jesus Christ it is.  Of Sabaoth Lord, and there's none other God; He holds the field forever.  Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us.  We tremble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us.  This world's prince may still scowl fierce as he will, he can harm us none, He's judged; the deed is done; one little word can fell him.  The Word they still shall let remain nor any thanks have for it; He's by our side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit.  And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife, let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won; the Kingdom our remaineth.”

Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

May God be with you…Jay