Christ, the Anthem! Our Mighty Fortress

A song that has been loved and cherished for decades.

This perhaps is one of my favorite hymn of all, “A Mighty Fortress Is our God” written by Martin Luther.

Perhaps Luther is one of the few who has profoundly most impacted my life.

The Protestant Reformation movement occurred in the sixteenth century led by Martin Luther, the inauguration by the Ninety-five thesis of theological conviction of Sola-Scriptura and championed the doctrine of grace.

We think of Martin Luther as the great reformer, Bible translator, fiery preacher, and theologian. But he was also a musician having born in an area of Germany known for its music.

There in his little Thuringian village, young Martin grew up listening to his mother sing.


The Protestant Reformation Transformed Congregational Singing

When the Protestant Reformation began, Luther determined to restore worship to the Church. He worked with skilled musicians to create new music for Christians to be sung in the vernacular.

He helped revive congregational singing and wrote a number of hymns.

Often, he “borrowed” popular secular melodies for his hymns, though occasionally a tune brought criticism and he was “compelled to let the devil have it back again” because it was too closely associated with bars and taverns.

Luther even said, “A person who does not regards music as a marvelous, creation of God does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”


Luther’s Depression: The Dark Night of the Soul

Luther’s most famous hymn is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” written in 1529. Based on Psalm 46, it reflects Luther’s awareness of our intense struggle with spiritual warfare.

As a young man studying in the monastic, Luther, terrified by the holy wrath of God, sought counsel twenty times a day as he threw himself on the concrete floor with horrifying fits of depression linked to the question of his salvation.

Verse 2 goes like the following,

Though this world with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us

We will not fear for God hat 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.

Amid trembling fear, Luther was not disconnected from the need of the counsel of God’s Word for his troubled soul. In difficulty and danger, Luther would often resort to this song.

Martin Luther debated many foes in his lifetime, but none troubled him as much as his nightly debates with Satan himself.

Luther looked to the Word of God for counsel as he said, “Comfort yourself with the Word of God, the pre-eminent consolation.”

May we too find comfort in the inerrant Word of Christ and take heart in the sovereignty of God.


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