This Sunday, October 25, countless churches and homes around the world of both Lutherans and non-Lutheran Protestants will be filled with these triumphal words of Martin Luther. Written sometime between 1527-28, and since then, translated into more than 200 languages, "A Mighty Fortress" symbolizes the hope of a man of faith whose world had been turned upside down through the death of his infant daughter, the plague, and controversies within the Church. Drawing from Psalm 46, Luther expressed several main themes of the Christian faith in the four short stanzas of this popular hymn: God is our protecter in a sinful world, we are helpless without the saving grace of Jesus Christ, sin and death do not have the final word, and God's kingdom is eternal.
Imagine the faith of this man, who wrote this timeless testament to God--our Refuge and Strength--in the midst of darkness, loss, and despair. Putting his words to melody (yes, he also wrote the music!) provided an easy way for those singing the hymn to put to memory several Christian doctrines. This is not surprising, for Luther fought for the inclusion of scripture that could be read by laity through his translation of the Bible from Latin into the vernacular of German.
I give thanks to God for Martin Luther, who has given us this beloved hymn, through his extensive knowledge and wisdom of the Christian faith, his gifts of writing both words and music, and courage born of his faith.
I used the sources below for this short article--check them out for more information on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.
May God, our Refuge and Strength, be with you now and always!