598. Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word

1 Lord, keep us steadfast in your word;
curb those who by deceit or sword
would wrest the kingdom from your Son
and bring to naught all he has done.

2 Lord Jesus Christ, your power make known,
for you are Lord of lords alone;
defend your holy church, that we
may sing your praise triumphantly.

3 O Comforter of priceless worth,
send peace and unity on earth;
support us in our final strife
and lead us out of death to life.

Text Information
First Line: Lord, keep us steadfast in your word
Title: Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word
Original Language: German
Author: Martin Luther (1542)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863, alt.)
Meter: LM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ;
Topic: Enemies & Persecution; King, God/Christ as; Society/Social Concerns (6 more...)
Tune Information
Meter: LM
Key: e minor

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 2 = John 17:11

In 1541 the Turkish army was threatening to take Vienna. The German rulers called for special prayers for safety from these Islamic forces. Martin Luther (PHH 336) responded to this request by writing the original German text ("Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort") for a prayer service in Wittenberg. Convinced that the church was threatened not only by the Turkish army of Sultan Suleiman but also by the Roman Catholic Pope, Luther began his text as follows (English translation):

Lord, keep us in thy Word and work,
Restrain the murderous Pope and Turk,
Who fain would tear from off thy throne
Christ Jesus, thy beloved Son.

After these threats to the church subsided, the text was altered: it eliminated the reference to the Pope and Turk and referred generally to all enemies of the Word. The text was published in Low German in the Magdeburg Gesangbuch (1542) and in High German in Joseph Klug's Geistliche Lieder (1543). The English translation by Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194) was published in her Chorale Book for England (1863).

The text is a fervent prayer in song cast into a Trinitarian mold. As we sing, we pray that God the Father will keep his kingdom from the powers of evil (st. 1), that God the Son will rule the church (st. 2), and that God the Spirit will bring peace and unity on earth and will support us in our "final [earthly] strife," the doorway to eternal life (st.3).

Liturgical Use:
In times of war and persecution that affect us or, perhaps more commonly, in solidarity with other people who experience such turmoil; as a prayer hymn before the proclamation of God's Word; peace services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ERHALT UNS, HERR was adapted from an older chant tune associated with the text "Veni Redemptor gentium" (PHH 336). Some scholars assume that Luther did the arranging himself. The tune was published with Luther's text in Klug's Geistliche Lieder (1543). Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) composed Cantata 126 on this tune.

ERHALT UNS, HERR is an effective chorale and one of the shorter ones in the Lutheran chorale tradition. Sing in parts throughout.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us