"A Mighty Fortress" by Martin Luther
In celebration of the the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we feature a hymn that has been a CCEL featured hymn in the past.
This hymn is often referred to as “the battle hymn” of the Reformation. Many stories have been relayed about its use. Albert Bailey writes, “It was, as Heine said, the Marseillaise of the Reformation…It was sung in the streets…It was sung by poor Protestant emigres on their way to exile, and by martyrs at their death…Gustavus Adolphus ordered it sung by his army before the battle of Leipzig in 1631…Again it was the battle hymn of his army at Lutzen in 1632…It has had a part in countless celebrations commemorating the men and events of the Reformation; and its first line is engraved on the base of Luther’s monument at Wittenberg…An imperishable hymn! Not polished and artistically wrought but rugged and strong like Luther himself, whose very words seem like deeds” (The Gospel in Hymns, 316). As you can see, this is a hymn close to the hearts of Protestants and Lutherans, a source of assurance in times of duress and persecution. The text is not restricted, however, to times of actual physical battles. In any time of need, when we do battle with the forces of evil, God is our fortress to hide us and protect us, and the Word that endures forever will fight for us.