In 1520, the Pope warned Martin Luther that he would be  excommunicated if he did not recant his teaching that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  Luther refused.  In 1521, Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther.  Charles the V issued an order for Luther’s arrest and put a price on his head.  Consequently, nearly every king and petty  ruler in the world made Luther’s capture a priority.  Frederick the III took Luther under his protection.  Luther spent a year in the Castle of Wartburg, a walled fortress, perched on a 1,200 foot precipice.  

  Here Luther, sitting in a mighty castle, protected by a rugged terrain and a high position with only a drawbridge for access, guarded by one of the most powerful men in the world, found comfort in his God.  With virtually the whole world against him, he had the truth of the gospel on his side, and that gave him confidence. He penned the words of this anthem praising the power of God.  In 1853, Frederick H. Hedge, translated Luther’s German lyrics into the English lines we know so well.

“A might fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe doeth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

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;
Dost 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. 

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo 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.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still:
His Kingdom is forever.”  

  This marvelous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther probably came out of the 46th Psalm. The first verse reads, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” The last verse states: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”                          THANKS BE TO GOD.


  1. Max , thank you for reminding me of this beautiful Hymn ! I am so glad to be able to sing. the beautiful Hymns ! Our church is small but so sweet and is a lover of the old hymns and gospel music ! I guess it’s just what we “old folks ” grew up singing !
    Love and Prayers. Joann

  2. I never heard that story before, Maxie. THANKS! To bad the strummers and drummer do not play it anymore in church.

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