Reformation Sunday is celebrated on October 25th this year–a day when members of the Lutheran faith honor Martin Luther and others who brought about change in the church. Martin Luther was not just a reformer of biblical interpretation but was also a reformer of church music. He knew that the musical liturgy of the Roman Catholic church was deep and meaningful but was limited in its audience. Many of the congregants in his day would not have understood Latin and that was the language of spoken and sung word in worship. In an effort to make liturgy and song more accessible to his congregation and encourage them to participate in their faith, Luther began to write. He translated the bible into German and he also wrote hymns to the tune of common songs mostly sung at bars and beer halls in Wittenberg and the surrounding German towns.
As Lutheranism spread, so did Luther’s songs. He wrote about 36 songs in total. They include his most famous in Lutheran circles–“A Mighty Fortress”. This was set to a beer hall song and sung throughout northern Germany, then into Scandinavia and with the coming of Lutheran immigrants to the Americas, to this continent as well.
In the spirit of a song which was written in the language of the people and to the tempo and instrumentation of the time of Luther, our church musicians Paul Wood and Michele Moras have used their talents to enliven this wonderful song and present us with an updated version. We think Martin Luther would have deeply appreciated this new take on a classic.