A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Translated from the German text "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott", “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is one of the most popular hymns written by Martin Luther. There are around seventy translations of the hymn written in English ten years after the original text was written. The most common translation used today was Frederick Hedge’s version that came out in 1853, 300 years later. His version almost copies the major theme and mood of the original text.
Luther based the song on Psalm 46 and the refrain specifically from verses 7 and 11. The song is also called “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” There are four theories where the hymn has begun, according to John Julian. Martin Luther and his troop sung the original German text “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” when they were entering Worms for the diet in 1521. Secondly, the song was written as a tribute to Leonhard Kaiser, a friend of Luther, who was executed on August 16, 1527. Thirdly, the German Lutheran princes sung the hymn while they were entering Augsburg in 1530 for the Diet. Lastly, Julian thinks the song was composed for the 1529 Deit of Speyer. At that time, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles wanted to enforce his 1521 Edict of Worms and the princes of German Lutheran opposed and protested.
On the other hand, John M. Merriman said that the hymn was a martial song for the Ottoman soldiers who fought on the Ottoman wars in Europe.
The tune “Ein feste Burg” taken from the first line of the hymn, was composed by Luther himself in 22.214.171.124.7 meter to go with the words of the song. The song was, however, sung in 126.96.36.199.7-meter during the Christendom. There are heresays from the 19th-century musicologists that Luther did not authored the melody but the latest research claims and proves that Martin Luther indeed composed “Ein feste Burg.”