Hymn Stories: A Mighty Fortress
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Purple Hymnal #110
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
No hymn is identified with the Protestant Reformation more than Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress.” Luther (1483-1546) left a body of congregational songs that both defined the Lutheran confessional tradition and became truly ecumenical in influence.
Based on Psalm 46, the hymn is a celebration of the sovereign power of God over all earthly and spiritual forces, and of the sure hope we have in him because of Christ. After its publication, it gained immense popularity throughout Reformed Europe.
In addition to skills as a writer, translator and preacher, Luther was an amateur musician. His thirty-seven hymns stand alongside his theological writings and his translation of the Bible into German as testaments of his creativity and intellectual ability.
Luther wrote several original hymns and melodies. He revised many Latin hymns to German texts set to adaptations of plainsong and folk melodies, and encouraged the composition of new texts and rhythmic hymn melodies.
“A Mighty Fortress” stands as a bastion of strength, an ever-present reminder of God’s unwavering presence in our lives.