#506 A Mighty Fortress

Words and Music by Martin Luther, 1529 (1483-1546)


A mighty fortress is our God,

a bulwark never failing;

our helper he amid the flood

of mortal ills prevaling.

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 Sabbaoth, 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,

thru 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.

     Probably everyone knows the author is Martin Luther! Some of you may not know that Luther was a fine musician, and did the music of this hymn as well as the words. During his student days, Luther supported himself by his singing. It is generally believed that the hymn was written just before the Diet of Speyer (Spires), to encourage the Lutheran princes to stand fast for their religious rights. Encouraged by this hymn, and trusting to God's protection, they did stand fast; and handed to the diet a formal statement which they entitled "A Protest." This document earned for their posterity the name "Protestants." The opening line of this hymn is carved on Luther's tombstone at Eisleben: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.