Ein feste Burg

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General information

Author: Martin Luther, 1529.

A paraphrase of Psalm 46.

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Text and translations

German.png German text

1. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,
Ein gute Wehr und Waffen.
Er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
Die uns jetzt hat betroffen.
Der alt böse Feind,
Mit Ernst er’s jetzt meint.
Groß Macht und viel List
Sein grausam Rüstung ist.
Auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen.

2. Mit unsrer Macht ist nichts getan,
Wir sind gar bald verloren.
Es streit’t für uns der rechte Mann,
Den Gott hat selbst erkoren.
Fragst du, wer der ist?
Er heißt Jesus Christ,
Der Herr Zebaoth,
Und ist kein ander Gott.
Das Feld muß er behalten.

3. Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär
Und wollt uns gar verschlingen,
So fürchten wir uns nicht so sehr,
Es soll uns doch gelingen.
Der Fürst dieser Welt,
Wie saur er sich stellt,
Tut er uns doch nicht.
Das macht, er ist gericht’t.
Ein Wörtlein kann ihn fällen.

4. Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn
Und kein’ Dank dazu haben.
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan
Mit seinem Geist und Gaben.
Nehmen sie den Leib,
Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib,
Laß fahren dahin.
Sie haben’s kein Gewinn.
Das Reich muß uns doch bleiben.

Martin Luther, 1529

English.png English translation

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 his 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 is 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 for ever.

Translation by Frederic Henry Hedge

English.png English translation

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from every need
that hath us now overtaken.
The ancient evil foe
now means us deadly woe;
deep guile and his great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
on Earth is not his equal.

2. With might of ours can naught be done,
soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One,
whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye now, who is this?
Lord Jesus Christ it is.
He is of Sabbath Lord;
There is none other God;
He holds the field forever.

3. Though devils all the world should fill,
all eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
they shall not overpower us.
If his world’s prince should still
scowl fiercely as he will,
For he can harm us none,
he’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

4. The Word they still shall let remain
nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
with His good gifts and Spirit.
And though take they our life,
Our goods, fame, child and wife,
Let these things all be gone,
they yet have nothing won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.

English.png English translation

1 A safe stronghold our God is still
A trusty shield and weapon;
He'll help us clear from all the ill
That hath us now o'ertaken.
The ancient prince of hell
Hath risen with purpose fell;
Strong mail of craft and power
He weareth in this hour;
On earth is not his fellow.

2 With force of arms we nothing can,
Full soon were we downridden;
But for us fights the proper Man,
Whom God himself hath bidden.
Ask ye, who is this same?
Christ Jesus is his name.
The Lord Sabaoth's Son;
He, and no other one,
Shall conquer in the battle

3 And were this world all devils o'er,
And watching to devour us,
We lay it not to heart so sore;
Nor they can overpower us.
And let the prince of ill
Look grim as e'er he will,
He harms us not a whit:
For why? his doom is writ;
A word shall quickly slay him.

4 God's Word, for all their craft and force,
One moment shall not linger,
But, spite of hell, shall have its course;
'Tis written by His finger,
and though they take our life,
Goods, honour, children, wife,
Yet is their profit small;
These things shall vanish all;
The city of God remaineth.

Translation by Thomas Carlyle, 1793-†1851