There are two different sets of numbers, one for each version of the hymn.
- 87 87 55 56 7 (Rhythmic)
- 87 87 66 66 7 (Isorhythmic)
A MIGH-TY FOR -TRESS IS OUR GOD (8 syllables)
A TRUST-Y SHIELD AND WEAP-ON (7 syllables - rhythmic)
A BUL-WARK NEV-ER FAIL-ING (7 syllables - isorhythmic)
Things get a little sticky a few lines down, as the number of syllables differs from rhythmic to isorhythmic.
NOW MEANS DEAD-LY WOE (5 syllables)
DEEP GUILE AND GREAT MIGHT (5 syllables)
ARE HIS DREAD ARMS IN FIGHT (6 syllables)
ON EARTH IS NOT HIS E-QUAL (7 syllables)
FOR STILL OUR AN-CIENT FOE (6 syllables)
DOTH SEEK TO WORK US WOE (6 syllables)
HIS POW'R AND CRAFT ARE GREAT (6 syllables)
AND, ARMED WITH CRU-EL HATE, (6 syllables)
ON EARTH IS NOT HIS E-QUAL. (7 syllables)
Both tunes are recognizable as "A Mighty Fortress" yet the texts are not exactly interchangeable. In this version of Hans Leo Hassler's setting, they used an isorhythmic text with the rhythmic tune.
The video uses a different translation. It will help to have those words for the sake of discussion. This was not easy to track down. It is a newer translation by Omar Westendorf.
You can hear them "double down" near the end of lines six and seven. In the rhythmic tune, these lines are all half notes (each note is held for two counts). In this version, the second last half note is changed to two quarter notes.
Perhaps a visual will help. The capital letters represent beats with a spoken syllable, the small letters represent beats with a non-spoken syllable. The text from
Rhythmic text from LSB:
Deep guile and great might
Isorhythmic text (Hassler recording):
What though the MOUN-TAINS FALL
As much as the isorhythmic text's capital letters (SEAS RAMPAGE and MOUNTAINS FALL) and bold TWO beat stand out, you can hear that extra syllable in the recording.
So we have multiple translations, two meters, and two versions of the same tune. Yet the differences make it difficult to switch tunes and translations around.
Now, this all feels wordy to me. I welcome comments that will help simplify things.
Next in the series, translating the first verse.