A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Our God is a strong castle is a hymn whose text was written by Martin Luther before 1529. The melody was also long considered his work, but was created with at least the collaboration of Johann Walter . The song is very symbolic for Protestantism .
History of origin
The text is based on Psalm 46 , "God is our confidence and strength". The question of whether Luther actually composed the melody split musicologists in the 19th century . According to Michael Fischer, Luther is (only) "probably [...] also the author of the melody"; According to evangelisch.de it is “controversial” “whether the melody was composed by Luther”. According to Christa Maria Richter, one can "assume that the melody [...] was a joint work by Luther and Walter, if it does not come mainly from Walter".
The oldest surviving source is the Augsburg form and order of sacred song and psalms from 1529. The song was also printed in the Erfurt hymn book by Andreas Rauscher (1531). Since the song is included in the edition of Klug's hymn book from 1533, it is assumed that it was also published in the lost first edition of this hymn book from 1529, possibly as early as 1528 in the also lost hymn book by Hans Weiss. The details differ about the exact time and cause of the creation. The span extends from 1521 to 1530. According to one opinion, the song was written as early as 1527, possibly under the impression of the approaching plague . According to another opinion, the song may have originally been written by Luther as a battle song against the Ottoman invaders . Still others believe that the song is directed against the Old Believers who refused to accept the Reformation and - from the point of view of Luther and his followers - the word of God, and point out that in 1529 the "Protestants" had their own religious party at the Speyer Diet have become.
By the 18th century, the lively and unpredictable rhythm of the earlier versions from the 16th century was increasingly smoothed out (see sheet music example). The melody has become calmer and more catchy.
Choral parts of the song created & a .:
- Stephan Mahu (before 1544)
- Johann Walter (1544)
- Martin Agricola (1544)
- Johannes Eccard
- Hans Leo Hassler
- Johann Hermann Schein
- Melchior Franck (4-part 1602, 5-part 1631)
- Johann Philipp Krieger (1688)
There are also a number of organ works about the song:
- Michael Praetorius : Fantasy about "A strong castle is our God"
- Johann Sebastian Bach : Choral arrangement BWV 720
- Charles Valentin Alkan : Impromptu op. 69 on “A strong castle is our God” for pedal grand piano or organ
- Wilhelm Rudnick : Reformation. Fantasy about Luther's chorale “A strong castle is our God” op. 33a
- Max Reger : Choral fantasy about "A strong castle is our God" op. 27 (1898)
- Max Reger. Choral preludes "A strong castle is our God" op. 67 No. 6 and op. 79b No. 2
- Max Reger: Choral prelude "A strong castle is our God" op. 135 a, no. 5.
- Sigfrid Karg-Elert : Fantasy "A strong castle is our God" op. 65 No. 47 (1909)
- Wilhelm Middelschulte : Toccata on "A strong castle is our God" (1907)
- Walter Schindler : Little Toccata on "A strong castle is our God" (1949)
- Jean Langlais : "A strong castle is our God" (No. 4 from the Livre oecoménique from 1968)
- Zoltán Gárdonyi : Prelude "A Strong Castle" (1985)
- Zsolt Gárdonyi : Toccata "A strong castle" (2017)
The song is also quoted in various larger musical works:
- Michael Altenburg : (as part of the Gaudium Christianum, 1617) The Lutheran Castle or Feste Burgk a 19
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Choral Cantata A strong castle is our God, BWV 80
- Georg Friedrich Handel : An Occasional Oratorio ( HWV 62) in the aria "To God, our strength"
- Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel : Te Deum (c. 1720)
- Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy : 5th Symphony "Reformation Symphony", last movement
- Richard Wagner : Imperial March ( WWV 104)
- Otto Nicolai : Ecclesiastical festival overture, large orchestral fugue
- Giacomo Meyerbeer : The Huguenots (opera), as a battle song a frequently recurring motif
- Jacques Offenbach : Ba-ta-clan (operetta, 1855), variation in the finale with the text "Hosanna, Tod ... I love you"
- Ludwig Meinardus : Luther in Worms , Oratorio (1872), op.36
- Richard Strauss : Peace Day
- Max Reger: The 100th Psalm op. 106, Luther's melody, is played as a cantus firmus by brass in the final increase of the final (double) fugue .
- Martin Zeller: Reformation Cantata (2017), last movement
The song became very symbolic for Protestantism in the 19th century; Heinrich Heine described it as the " Marseillaise of the Reformation ", Friedrich Engels as the " Marseillaise of the Peasant Wars ". Especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, the song was sung by Protestants in times of external distress or to profess their own faith. Michael Hirschfeld reports that evangelical displaced persons specifically sang Luther's song in the 1940s when they were allowed to celebrate a service for the first time in a Catholic church in the Oldenburger Münsterland , to which they had been assigned by the authorities.
In addition, beginning with the wars of liberation at the beginning of the 19th century , A strong castle is our god experienced a national charge as a battle song beyond the narrower religious sense. This is evidenced by the involvement in national-German celebrations such as the Wartburg Festival in 1817 or the inauguration of the Luther monument in Worms in 1868. The national-militaristic instrumentalization reached a climax during the First World War , when in particular the lines "A strong castle is our God" and " And if the world were full of devils, they were widely distributed (for example on war postcards). In this context, the song stood for the self-image of Germany threatened from all sides, but which trusting God would triumph over all opponents of this world.
In the current order of the Lutheran church year , our God is assigned to the 1st Sunday of the Passion time invokavit as a weekly song and thus relates to Matthew 4.1–11 LUT , the temptation of Jesus by the devil . On the other hand, as the weekly song of the Reformation Day , rejoice, dear Christians are in favor (EG 341) or if God is for me, take everything against me (EG 351).
A strong castle is our God,
a good defense and weapons.
He helps us out of all the hardship that
has now affected us.
The old, bad enemy , if he is serious,
great power and much cunning is
his cruel armor,
on earth there is no equals.
Nothing is done with our power,
we are very soon lost;
the right man,
whom God has chosen himself, fights for us .
Do you ask who he is?
His name is Jesus Christ,
the Lord of hosts ,
and he is no other god,
he must keep the field.
And if the world were full of devils
and even want to devour us,
we are not so afraid, we
The prince of this world,
no matter how mad he is, he
doesn't do us;
that makes, he is judged:
a word can make him.
The word they should let go
and have no thanks for it;
he is probably on the scene
with us with his spirit and gifts.
Take the body,
property, honor, child and woman:
let go there,
they have no gain,
the kingdom must remain with us.
Inclusion in church hymn books
The Luther song can be found in the following hymn books:
- Evangelical hymn book under number 362
- Hymn book of the Evangelical Reformed Churches in German-speaking Switzerland under number 32
- Hymn book of the United Methodist Church under number 336
- Celebrate and praise , hymn book of the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches and the Federation of Free Evangelical Congregations under the number 130
- Mennonite hymn book number 430
- Adventist hymn book under the number 332
- German-language hymn book of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under number 40
- German-language hymn book of the New Apostolic Church under the number 142
A Danish translation "Before Gud han er saa fast en borg ..." is in the Danish hymn book by Ludwig Dietz, printed in Rostock in 1536, adopted by Hans Tausen , En Ny Psalmebog 1553 (text slightly changed compared to Dietz). Edited several times since 1817 by Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig , also by Bishop JP Mynster in 1845 and as "Vor Gud, han er saa fast en Borg ..." or "Vor Gud han er så fast en borg ..." in more recent Danish church hymn books: Den Danske Salme Bog, Copenhagen 1993, No. 295; Den Danske Salmebog, Copenhagen 2002, No. 336. Also in the hymn books of the folk high schools, z. B. Højskolesangbogen, 18th edition, Copenhagen 2006, no. 38 (there with the following references: Luther 1528, Danish 1533 and 1798, edited by P. Hiort 1840 and JP Mynster 1845; melody "Joseph Klug 1533"). Compare u. a .: Johannes Møllehave: Danske salmer (Danish hymns ), Copenhagen 2006, No. 336. In Grundtvig's Sang-Værk til den danske Kirke-Skole (song collection for the Danish Sunday School), Copenhagen 1873, No. 122, an additional one (first ) Version "Guds Kirke er vor Klippe-Borg ..." from 1817; in Grundtvig's Kirke-Aaret i Salme-Sang (the church year in the hymn ), Copenhagen 1873, No. 368, there is then his last version "Before Gud han he saa fast en Borg ..."
- Michael Fischer: Religion, Nation, War. The Luther chorale “A strong castle is our God” between the Wars of Liberation and the First World War (= popular culture and music. Volume 11). Waxmann, Münster 2014, ISBN 978-3-8309-2901-7 (also dissertation Bielefeld University 2013; limited preview in Google book search).
- Anja Grebe, G. Ulrich Großmann: A strong castle is our God (= writings of the German Castle Museum Veste Heldburg. 6). Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-7319-0559-2 .
- Hartmann Grisar : Luther's song of triumph "A solid castle" in the past and present. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1922.
- Bernhard Leube , Helmut Lauterwasser: 362 - A strong castle is our God . In: Wolfgang Herbst , Ilsabe Seibt (Hrsg.): Liederkunde zum Evangelischen Gesangbuch . No. 17 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-525-50340-9 , p. 63–75 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
- The Luther song A 'solid castle is our god, pictured by Alfred Rethel. Dresden 1861, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 2-581 .
- Michael Fischer: A strong castle is our God (2007). In: Popular and Traditional Songs. Historical-critical song lexicon of the German Folk Song Archive
- A solid castle in the Christian song database
- A solid castle. In: sermon-online
- Karl Dienst: Martin Luther's “A strong castle is our God” as a signal of identity for Protestantism in the 19th and 20th centuries (PDF; 143 kB)
- Luther's battle song against worldly conditions. Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover , topic of the day October 27, 2013
- Our God is a strong castle (Luther, Martin) : sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God in the Choral Public Domain Library - ChoralWiki (English)
- Michael Fischer: A strong castle is our God (2007). In: Popular and Traditional Songs. Historical-critical song lexicon of the German Folk Song Archive
- The Protestants and their singing from the fortress ( memento of November 3, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). In: evangelisch.de. Joint work of Protestant journalism , October 31, 2011, accessed on January 21, 2013.
- Christa Maria Richter: Johann Walter (1496–1570) - founder of Protestant church music. Life and work. Writings of the Torgauer Geschichtsverein, vol. 13. Sax Verlag, Beucha / Markkleeberg, 2020
- Jakob Dachser : Form vnd ord || nung Gaystlicher Gesang || and psalms / also et = || lich hymn / which || Lord God || zů sung praise || become. || Also the Fr # [ue] egebett / an || instead of the B # [ae] pstic || compose measurement || hold. || Philipp Ulhart the Elder Ä., Augsburg 1529 ( entry in VD 16 ).
- Inge Mager: Martin Luther's song “A solid castle is our god” and Psalm 46. In: Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie Volume 30 (1986), pp. 87–96, here p. 95 ( limited preview in the Google book search ).
- Friedrich Klippgen (ed.): Martin Luther. Complete German Sacred Songs - In the order of their first prints. Niemeyer, Halle 1912, pp. 17-18.
- Friedrich-Karl Hildebrand: A 'solid castle is our God. Ev. Hymnal No. 362. In: Congregational letter “Building bridges”. September / October 2003 ( norf-nievenheim.de [accessed March 23, 2020]).
- Salomon Korn : Too weak to endure strangers? In: FAZ . October 27, 2008, p. 8.
- Sheet music based on Andrew Wilson-Dickson: Sacred Music - Your Great Traditions - From Psalms to Gospel. Brunnen Verlag, Giessen 1994, p. 63.
- Sheet music based on the New Choral Book for the Evangelical Church Hymnal. Bärenreiter, Kassel / Basel, edition 440, 1956, p. 55.
- Andrew Wilson-Dickson: Sacred Music - Its Great Traditions - From Psalms to Gospel . Brunnen Verlag, Giessen 1994, p. 63.
- A strong castle is our God (Mahu, Stephan) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- A strong castle (Agricola, Martin) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- A fortress is our god (Hassler, Hans Leo) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- A strong castle is our God (Schein, Johann Hermann) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- Notes from the public domain of A Strong Castle is Our God (Melchior Franck) in the Choral Public Domain Library - ChoralWiki (English)
- A strong castle is our God (Franck, Melchior) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- A strong castle is our God (Krieger, Johann Philipp) : Sheet music and audio files in the International Music Score Library Project
- This is what Reformation sounds like. In: evang-wien.at, accessed on February 10, 2020.
- Heinrich Heine: On the history of religion and philosophy in Germany . In: The Salon. Second volume. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1834, p. 80 ( online in the Google book search).
- Letter to Schlueter, 1885. In: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels on art and literature. Berlin 1948, p. 241 f. Quoted from: Wolfgang Steinitz: German folk songs of a democratic character from six centuries (= publications of the Institute for German Folklore. Volume 4). Volume 1. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin-GDR 1955, , p. XXXV.
- Michael Hirschfeld: Catholic milieu and expellees. A case study using the example of the Oldenburger Land 1945–1965. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2002, p. 299.
- Norbert Linke : On the difficulty and necessity of securing melodic proof of origin. In: German Johann Strauss Society (ed.): New life . Issue 53 (2016 / No. 3), , pp. 54–59.
- Luther chorale “A strong castle” - Religion, Nation, War ( Memento from December 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). In: luther2017.de, accessed on November 16, 2012.
- Michael Fischer: Religion, Nation, War. The Luther Choral A strong castle is our God between the Wars of Liberation and the First World War (= popular culture and music. Volume 11). Waxmann, Münster 2014, ISBN 978-3-8309-2901-7 .
- Research project: Religion - Nation - War. The Luther chorale "A strong castle is our God" in the First World War ( Memento from November 28, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In: dva.uni-freiburg.de, accessed on November 16, 2012.
- 1st Sunday of the Passion Time: Invokavit ( Memento from April 19, 2010 in the Internet Archive ). In: velkd.de, accessed on February 10, 2020.
- Reformation Day ( Memento from August 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). In: velkd.de, accessed on February 10, 2020.
- Cf. Middle High German thanks for 'thought, will'; The line means: 'whether you want it or not'.
- Cf. Middle High German plan for 'level, battle place'.
- Various, also old prints have: "Take our bodies away from us".
- Cf. Otto Holzapfel : Lied index: The older German-language popular song tradition ( online version on the Volksmusikarchiv homepage of the Upper Bavaria district ; in PDF format; ongoing updates) with further information.