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A Mighty Fortress

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 8:00 am

Musings and Memories

By Doug Dezotell

On October 31, 1517, the Reverend Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany. That date was sometimes called the “4th of July of Protestantism.” It symbolized the start of the Protestant Reformation.

And the single most powerful hymn of the Protestant Reformation Movement was Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

Inspired by Psalm 46, Luther caught up in the hymn the very essence of faith, and the fervor and flavor of freedom and spiritual liberty which he found in the Psalm.

Luther’s hymn became the battle cry of the people, a great source of strength and inspiration even for those who were martyred for their love for Christ. Its majestic and thunderous proclamation of the Christian faith is a singing symbol of the reformation.

This hymn has been translated into practically every known language and is regarded as one of the noblest and most classic examples of Christian hymnody.

The first line of this national hymn of Protestant Germany is inscribed on the tomb of the great Christian reformer at Wittenberg,

Luther had strong convictions about the use and power of sacred music. Once he wrote, “I would allow no man to preach or teach God’s people without a proper knowledge of the use and power of sacred song.”

I grew up in United Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and we would often sing this magnificent hymn as the huge and powerful pipe organ would accompany the voices of the congregation. It has always been one of my favorite hymns of faith.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

(1) A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;

Our helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe-

His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not His equal.


(2) Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,

Were not the right man on our side, The man of God’s own choosing.

Doth ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He-

Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.


(3) And though this world with devils filled, Should threaten to unto us.

We will not fear, for God hath 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.


(4) That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also-

They body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still:

His kingdom is forever.



Columnist Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church in Shelbyville. He can be contacted by email at or by phone at 931-607-5191.