Much of Christianity is familiar with this hymn. I remember liking it when I was younger. Liked hearing it sung. And all those fermatas made it stand out. But then somewhere--perhaps Seminary, maybe college--when it would get sung whoever was leading would hold out those fermatas to a ridiculous amount of time, dragging out the song instead of letting it be one of praise and honor. It got to be a little frustrating for me. In recent years, I have been able to choose and lead the music. Fermatas are a director's great power in holding as long as they wish. So I would have been able to keep them shorter and not drag the song. But I discovered that I don't lead fermatas well at all. I think I only picked it once. But it isn't the song's fault that I haven't been as much a fan of it. I should reacquaint myself with the majestic words matching the majestic tune. And appreciate that it is one I am able to play fairly easily. My favorite line inspite of "our differences :-) has always been: "He overcometh all."
From the history book
The hymn dated back to 1529, with the first line etched on author Martin Luther's tomb. It is inspired by Psalm 46. Its original language was German and has been translated into many others. Luther believed in the importance of musical worship and wanted to set up congregational singing throughout Protestant churches. The book contains quotes related to that. I particularly like Luther's own stating, "music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men." Apparently there are 3 other verses that most hymnals include. The LDS hymnal only includes the first (which adapted version of lyrics I included here).
|1. A mighty fortress is our God,|
a tower of strength never failing.
A helper mighty is our God
O'er ills of life prevailing.
He overcometh all.
He saveth from the Fall.
His might and pow'r are great.
He all things did create.
And he shall reign for evermore.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.