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468. God Is Our Fortress and Our Rock

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Hope Publishing: one copy

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Text Information
First Line: God is our fortress and our rock
Title: God Is Our Fortress and Our Rock
Author: Martin Luther (1529)
Translator: Michael A. Perry (1981, alt.)
Meter: 87 87 55 567
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Commitment & Dedication; Enemies & Persecution; Reformation (7 more...)
Copyright: Translation © 1982, Hope Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Used by permission
Tune Information
Composer: Martin Luther (1529)
Meter: 87 87 55 567
Key: C Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Ps. 46

Martin Luther (PHH 336) wrote both the tune and the original German text ("Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott"), which was inspired by Psalm 46. The chorale is known to have been published in the 1529 edition of Joseph Klug's (PHH 126) Geistliche Lieder although no copy is extant. It also appeared in both High and Low German versions in various Lutheran hymnals. Just as Genevan Psalm 68 has had great significance for many Calvinists, this hymn, which became "the battle hymn" of the Reformation, has been immensely important to Lutherans and other Protestants.

With the help of Annamarie von Rad, Michael A. Perry (PHH 299) translated the four-stanza German text into three stanzas at Eversley, Hampshire, England, in 1981. His translation was published in the British Hymns for Today’s Church (1982). Perry captures well the strong battle images that Luther's text magnified from Psalm 46: as we fight against the powers of hell, our hope is fixed on Christ whose "kingdom is immortal!" (A different translation is at 469.)

Liturgical Use:
Many occasions of worship throughout the church year, but especially Reformation Sunday, Old/New Year services, and times when the church faces persecution or spiritual battles.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Some scholars surmise that Luther adapted preexisting melodies when composing EIN FESTE BURG. They also suspect that the popularity of this hymn not only contributed to the spread of the Reformation but also to the increasing importance of the Ionian mode (major) as opposed to the older church modes.

The melody is in a rounded bar form (AABA); the setting at 468 is in the original rhythm; the setting at 469 is adapted. If the rhythmic setting of 468 is unfamiliar, use it as a choir anthem at first. Perhaps the organist could play one of the many organ preludes that employ this authentic rhythm. Accompany with a moderate organ registration for the first two stanzas, but enlarge the registration for stanza 3. Be sure to play at a moderately fast pace and keep rhythms crisp; this tune must sparkle with energy. Use brass for festive services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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