Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Multitude of Mighty Fortresses: Definitions, Part III: bulwark?!

BULWARK: I have no idea what this means.

In the Lutheran tradition we have a ton of words that we use that we assume people know, especially in the liturgy.  Words like Salutary, Nunc Dimittis, Absolution and Collect (this has nothing to do with the gathering offerings, and you place the emphasis on the first syllable).

For example, The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) contains the phrase, "It is truly meet, right and salutary..."

Lutheran Worship (1982) and Lutheran Service Book (2006) changed it up a little to read, "It is truly good, right and salutary..."

On Sunday, someone asked me what salutary meant.  After a brief brainstorm I came up with "beneficial - it's good for us!"

"Are you sure?" I was asked.

I bring all this up because we who have retained lots of big words over the years have not used "bulwark" in our hymnal.

I will leave it up to the readers to explain it.  This may take awhile, because I have all of two readers, and they belong to my tradition!

What I do have, though, is some TABLE TALK RADIO points that I have accumulated.  Yes, this is the Table Talk Radio ... everyone's favorite Lutheran radio program featuring theology within a game show format.

Yes, folks, that's Table Talk Radio ... where the points are like papal primacy to a Lutheran ... they are both good things for him to write about but he has to question the authority of both the points and the pope.

I will give 10 Table Talk Radio points to the person who can tell us all what a "bulwark" is in plain, simple terms.  Please use your own words and not something you found on wikipedia.

There are 10 bonus points on the line if you can provide a link to a photo of one.

I only have around 700 points total, so I must ration them out carefully.


  1. You know, some people complain about old hymns and Bible translations using words differently and using different words, and the "solution" is always to change the text. Why not learn what "meet, right, and salutary" means? Or bulwark?

  2. My favorite "big word" from TLH is doleful from TLH 164, "'Twas on that dark, that doleful night."

    I'm certainly for catechesis! Right now, though, I am the one who needs to be catechized. So I put some TTR points on the line to help things along and find a good meaning for bulwark.

  3. Growing up around water, we knew that it was necessary to construct a barrier to protect land from erosion by waves and tides. We construicted a "bulwark" by driving pilings into the mud where the water met the shore, and then affixing horizontal planks between the pilings. This bulwark, like a retaining wall, held the dirt where it was supposed to be and kept the erosive activity to a manageable minimum.
    A bulwark is a pier and plank wall designed as a perimeter wall.
    A bulwark never failing would be such a wall that never gives way -- never erodes and never allows the interior inhabitants to suffer harm.

  4. Thanks, Anon! I can relate to your description. Where I am from, this is called a "sea wall" even though we used them on fresh-water lakes.

  5. Anon gave a great description and is now awarded 10 Table Talk Radio points. There is still an additional 10 points for anyone who can provide a link for the visual.

    I would be curious to find out how much the Table Talk Radio points are worth on eBay.

  6. Here's an image
    Being in the Coast Guard we learned all kinds of good words. I agree - learn the words!



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