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A Sermon in Song based on the Hymn:

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God



In the fall of 2003 a motion picture about Martin Luther opened in theaters nationwide depicting the turbulent life of the sixteenth century German monk prominent in the Protestant Reformation movement. Bailey McBride in the Christian Chronicle commented there were three central themes in the film of Luther’s thought: (1) the centrality of Christ and God’s grace; (2) Luther’s belief in the Bible’s power to bring people to God; and (3) the film subtly reveals Luther’s recognition that religion can become a political power, dominating the minds and lives of people instead of offering them redemption and true life in Christ.

Luther composed over thirty hymns. A Mighty Fortress is our God, his best-known hymn, has been called the marching hymn of the Reformation. Luther wrote both words and tune for the hymn, which was then arranged by Bach in 1717 and translated into English in 1852 by Frederick H. Hedge.

William J. Reynolds and Milburn Price suggest, “This well-known hymn, a paraphrase of Psalm 46, apparently was written in 1529 for the Diet of Speyer, when the German princes made their formal protest against the revoking of their liberties, and thus received the name ‘protestants.’” (A Survey of Christian Hymnody 18)

James Moffatt describes Luther’s hymn as being the “greatest hymn of the greatest man of the greatest period of German history.” (Reynolds, Hymns of Our Faith 2) E. E. Ryden points out, “It was through the efforts of Luther that the lost art of congregational singing was restored and the Christian hymn was again given a place in public worship. Philip Schaff adds: “To Luther belongs the extraordinary merit of having given the German people in their own tongue the Bible and the hymnbook, so that God might speak directly to them in His word, and that they might directly answer Him in their songs.” (The Story of Christian Hymnody)

In The Story of Our Hymns (1952), Haeussler says, “Luther dealt with positives, not negatives. Stanza one shows us the castle-fortress and the besieging enemy. On one side is God, the great Helper, on the other side is the ancient evil foe. Stanza two says we are nothing, but our ally is everything, Jesus Christ in whom we trust. Stanza three indicates we should have no fear for God has willed truth to triumph. Stanza four outlines that we possess courage since we are standing on solid ground.”


Now we will emphasize several thoughts in the hymn with songs and scriptures. After each song title I have given the part of the verse that supports the idea. You may sing the entire song or just the pertinent verse.


“A Mighty Fortress is our God”

 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” (Ps 18:2)

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Ps 91:2)

“O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress.” (Ps 59:9)

 Praise the Name of Jesus – “He’s my Fortress”


“Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing”

“Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.” (Ps 27:9)

“Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be my helper.” (Ps 30:10)

“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” (Heb 13:6)

Abide With Me – “When other helpers fail, . . .O abide with me”

Only In Thee – “there is no hope nor helper beside”


“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing”

“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Ex 15:2)

“I love you, O LORD, my strength.” (Ps 18:1)

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.” (Ps 28:7)

As the Deer Panteth for the Water – “you alone are my strength”

Be With me Lord – “I need Thy strength to lean upon”

God is Love – “our help, our hope our strength”

Great is Thy Faithfulness – “strength for today”

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah – “be thou still my strength and shield”

Surely Goodness and Mercy – “he giveth me strength day by day”


“And He must win the battle”

“O sing to the LORD a new song; for he has done marvelous things: his right hand and his holy arm have gotten him the victory.” (Ps 98:1)

“He has delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.” (Ps 55:18)

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57)

Faith is the Victory – “and press the battle”

Onward Christian Soldiers – “forward into battle”

We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer – “with Thy help, O Lord, life’s battles we win”


“His truth to triumph through us”

“O my God, I trust in you: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me.” (Ps 25:2)

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Cor. 2:14)

All People that on Earth do Dwell – “His truth at all times firmly stood”

How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts – “Thy word is everlasting truth”

I Love Thy Kingdom Lord – “Sure as Thy truth shall last”

Rejoice in the Lord – “His mercy and truth are everlasting”



Sermon in Song prepared by Paul Brown (1929-2017)

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