Wednesday 16 July 2014

Ideas for Hymn Study - A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Martin Luther

A Mighty Fortress

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

'Martin Luther described Jesus as "Lord Sabaoth." That's a Hebrew word that means "armies ready for war." The idea behind this name of Jesus is that He is Captain of the Lord's army and He us ready to go to battle for us and defend us.'
Seasons of Praise by Rebecca Hayford Bauer

See here for some historical background to this hymn

Thunderstorm in the Church by Louise A. Vernon is a fictionalised account of the life of Martin Luther told through the eyes of his son, Hans. The author travelled throughout England and Germany to find out her information firsthand before writing the book and she tells an engaging story for children around 6 to 12 years of age. It's a good family read aloud if you have younger children and is an excellent introduction to the life of Martin Luther and the times in which he lived.

Queen of the Reformation by Charles Ludwig is centred around Martin Luther's wife, Katie and the events that led to their marriage and their life together. Born in 1499, Katherine von Bora lost her mother when she was a child and was rejected by her stepmother. At the age of 16 years she made her vows and entered the convent at Nimbshen in Germany. Eight years later she fled the convent with a group of fellow nuns and at the age of 26 years she married Luther who was 16 years her senior.

The book is a well-researched fictionalised story of Katie and her life with Martin Luther. There is much historical information intertwined with an interesting and lively account of their relationship and the tumultuous times in which they lived and of the inspiration behind Luther's famous hymn which was later declared to be "The Marseillaise of the Reformation." 
The Peasant Revolt, the plague and the threat of Suleiman the Magnificent come to life within its pages and Luther is portrayed realistically as a great man who struggled with his own share of human foibles and frailty. Towards the end of his life Luther was living under immense strain and suffered greatly from kidney stones, depression and other afflictions and Katie was heartsick over the changes she saw in him.

That spirit of generosity was now leaving him. His quill, always sharp, became a surgeon's scalpel. In 1545 he denounced the Roman church in the darkest words that seeped into his mind.
He also carved a few Protestants, especially those who disagreed with him about the presence of Christ in the communion bread and wine.
These statements, which have caused Luther's enemies to gloat, were viewed by Katie with more understanding eyes. She knew her husband better than anyone else, and she knew his heart was right even though his speech and writing smoked with brimstone.

I don't think that there are many books that portray Luther's other half (for children at least) and I was pleased to find this one. The author has also included a few maps (something I always appreciate in books with historical settings) and short extracts of letters and documents. There are one or two very brief comments on some of the atrocities that occurred during the Peasant Revolt, but otherwise the book is suited to around the ages of 12 to 15 years.
224 pages.

This website has some information on Katharina von Bora and other people such as the artist Lucas Cranach who were involved in her life.


Sherry said...

I wrote about this hymn and others a few years ago when I was posting a series on Top 100 Hymns.
Martin Luther is an interesting character, and I think I would enjoy the book about Katie, his wife, and their marriage.

My Teacher's Name is Mama said...

Love this!

My Teacher's Name is Mama said...

Thank you for sharing this on Theology Thursdays FOR KIDS!!! I would love for you to come back and share more of your hymn study posts!