Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Multitude of Mighty Fortresses: Lent 1

The First Sunday in Lent focuses on the Temptation of our Lord. After a 40 day fast in the wilderness, Satan wants his way with the Messiah, and tempts him three times. Since Jesus is God and born without sin, he is able to withstand this temptation.

The Hymn of the Day for Lent I is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." For years I asked myself, "Why?" Last year, my parish was in vacancy. I suggested to our vacancy pastor that we sing the appointed Hymn of the Day. He felt it was an unusual choice as well.

Here's the deal... Instead of viewing this hymn as the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation" it is good to think of this hymn as the "Battle Hymn against Satan." No matter how hard he and his legion of demons try, they cannot overpower the Christ and His Church!

Here is a wonderful arrangement, sung in German. The congregation sings an isorythmic version on stanzas 1 and 4, while the choir gets a rhythmic version on stanzas 2 and 3. Unlike the English versions, these German settings are in the same meter.

Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott

For more on this series on A Mighty Fortress, click the "Fortress" label.