This is more than a little embarrassing!

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I was doing a little music listening this morning, and went over to Cyberhymnal, and looked for one of my favorite hymns, to have a little sing along here at the computer. (And, yes, I really do that--so call me a geek. I can't help it.)

One of my all time favorite hymns is known as "The Battle Hymn of the Reformation"?????? I had forgotten that it was written by Martin Luther! Well, I still think he wrote some beautiful words, even if I don't share his views on the "earthly powers" he mentions, since I'm quite sure he aimed it straight at the Church. Oh, well. Today I think we have plenty of "earthly powers" seeking to undo us. The world is a scary place to me right now, and these words buck me up. They were also sung at my father's funeral when I was eleven. Loved them then. Love them now.

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 doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

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.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath 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.

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.

Here's the tune, if you don't know it. Also written by Martin Luther, by the way.


I admit to liking it too, especially Bach's chorale from Cantata BWV 80...I listen and sing along, because, well I *LOVE* Bach. ;-) However, I have to giggle to myself when I hear it played during Mass, knowing the secret that it was the Protestant Anthem. Still, I sing it, since it's a lot better than much of the watered down contemporary garbage we're assaulted with each week. :-)

don't you know luther is rolling over in his grave at the caca that passes for ho-hums, er, hymns today. i'll take a protestant anthem over the kumbaya garbage i've heard at some catholic communities any day!

Wow, I didn't that was written by Luther! I recite that hymn often in Morning Prayer.

Heh! It's actually kind of funny- the level of irony here.

I don't care who wrote it, it's a great hymn. Luther was, after all, very close to being a good Catholic; he just got a few things wrong, which unfortunately warped his theology. But his spirituality is another matter.

As for the tune: Some years ago, my parents acquired (I don't know where from) a thick book of German songs of all kinds, including hymns. It included, of course, Ein feste Burg. The tune, however, was the original tune by Luther, not the one we generally sing, which is, I guess, the version revised by Bach. The difference is that where the version we sing has eighth notes with melismata (one syllable on two or more pitches) in a number of places, like the first syllable of "fortress" and "is" in the first line, the original has single quarter notes on the first of the two pitches; the first syllable of "failing" goes from the first to the last pitch directly without the intermediate pitch in the later version. Otherwise the melody is the same: a bit less flowing, but with a certain stalwart beauty. A great hymn, any way you sing it.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on October 13, 2006 11:10 AM.

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