Reformation Day

Being born on the thirty-first of October often caused me no little grief growing up. I hated seeing the horrible images people put up, on my birthday! I hated having trick-or-treaters showing up on the doorstep in the middle of my party, and, to top it off, I hated having  people call me a "boo baby" in stores!
But their was one consolation; I always knew that my birthday was also the commemoration of a very special event in History, that of the sparking of the fire of reformation and revival in the town of Wittenburg, Germany by a fiery  monk named Martin Luther. When He nailed his Ninety-five theses to the door of Wittenburg chapel.
 So that is what I focus on now. Forget about Halloween!
           But this is a music blog so I am about to share with you once again the most popular hymn of the reformation. (Next year, I promise, I'll find some obscure hymn that no one has ever heard of to post instead!)
    A Mighty Fortress is Our God, or, Ein Feste Burg ist Unsrer Gott.
Last year I shared the German version of the song with you, see my post from then if you want to hear it:
 But this time I want to share the actual translations of this hymn into English. The differences between the words we know and what Luther actually wrote are quite striking.
                 So here is the Original German and below is its literal translation.

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,
ein gute Wehr und Waffen;
er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
die uns jetzt hat betroffen.
Der alte böse Feind,
mit Ernst er’s jetzt meint,
groß Macht und viel List
sein grausam Rüstung ist,
auf Erd ist nicht sein gleichen.

Mit unser Macht ist nichts getan,
wir sind gar bald verloren,
es streit für uns der rechte Mann,
den Gott hat selbst erkoren;
fragst du, wer der ist?
Er heißt Jesu Christ;
der Herr Zebaoth,
und ist kein and’rer Gott;
das Feld muß er behalten.

Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär,
und wolltn 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;
ein Wörtlein kann ihn fällen.

Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn,
und kein Dank darzu haben.
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan,
mit seinem Geist und Gaben.
Nehmen sie uns den Leib,
Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib,
laß fahren dahin;
sie haben’s keinen Gwinn.
Das Reich muß uns doch bleiben.

 English Translation

A mighty fortress is our God,
a good defense and armory,
he helps us get free from every difficulty
that befalls us.
The ancient wicked foe,
grim is his intent,
great might and much deceit
are his ruthless weapons,
on earth he has no equal.
With our might naught can be done;
soon were we lost.
But for us fights the valiant one,
whom God himself elected.
Ask ye, who is this?
He is called Jesus Christ;
the Lord of Sabaoth;
and there is no other God;
He holds the field forever.
And if the world were full of devils
wanting to devour us,
we would not be all that afraid,
for we would nonetheless succeed.
The prince of this world,
however bad-tempered he may appear,
can do nothing to us,
The result: he stands condemned;
one little word can fell him.
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 take they our life,
goods, fame, child and wife,
let all these go;
they have won nothing.
The kingdom remains ours.

I also want to share a more literal translation of the hymn in poetry as the one above is in prose. And then I will show you the words we all are familiar with.

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
by Dr. Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Composite Translation from the Pennsylvania Lutheran CHURCH BOOK of 1868
1. A mighty Fortress is our God,
A trusty Shield and Weapon;
He helps us free from every need
That hath us now o'ertaken.
The old evil Foe
Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and 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, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there's 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.
This world's prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
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 take they our life,
Goods, fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone,
They yet have nothing won;
The Kingdom our remaineth.

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 pow’r 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 pow’rs, 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.

So, which one do you like best?

Nearer, my God, to Thee Part 2

I didn't expect to be doing a follow up post on my last one; but after I wrote about those other tunes, I just had to look for them on youtube, and once I heard them I just had to post them for you all to hear.  They are both such beautiful moving tunes. That I think that if I hadn't heard "Bethany" first I might have more likely picked "Horbury" or "Propior Deo" for my favorite. The third tune I listed, "St. Edmunds", I cannot find anywhere but that's okay three tunes are already quite enough for one song!

So here is the British Methodists' favorite tune, "Propior Deo".

And Here is "Horbury" The tune played on the titanic as it sunk into the icy depths of the north Atlantic. Many claim that Since Band master Wallace Hartley was a Methodist that "Propior Deo" was the tune they played, however, no one knows this is certain and it is also accepted that he knew "Horbury" just as well. Besides this there is the overwhelming evidence of the testimony of Eva Hart one of the survivors who claimed that "Horbury" was the tune used. There is no one who can testify to the contrary. But anyway here is the tune.

Enjoy! let me know which you like better. I like them both!

Nearer My God to Thee/Naher, mein Gott, zu Dir

This moving song was written first by Sisters, Sarah Flower Adams and Eliza Flower in 1841 based on  Genesis 28: 11-29.  I cannot find the tune Eliza composed for her sister's lines any where, but the song was originally written for a hymn book by William Johnson Fox with whom the sisters were well acquainted. The song, however, did not gain much popularity in the states until it was wedded with Lowell Mason's tune, Bethany. This is the tune most of you probably know. There are other tunes such as "Horbury", by John Bacchus Dykes, "Propior Deo" and "St. Edmund" by Arthur Sullivan, all of which are beautiful as well but for me. I like Mason's tune the best since I heard it first! It is also the most popular of all the tunes everywhere elsse  except in England, where "Horbury" is sung, and among the British Methodists who prefer "Propior Deo" . But "Bethany" has still found its way into the British hymnals!
 This song was also translated into German and I think it is just as beautiful in that tongue as it is in ours. So I will post two videos, one in German and one in English. Tell me what you think!

Näher, mein Gott, zu Dir,
Näher zu Dir!
Drückt mich auch Kummer hier,
Drohet man mir,
Soll doch trotz Kreuz und Pein,
Dies meine Losung sein:

Näher, mein Gott, zu Dir,
Näher zu Dir!

Bricht mir, wie Jakob dort,
Nacht auch herein,
Find ich zum Ruheort
Nur einen Stein,
Ist selbst im Traume hier
Mein Sehnen für und für:

Näher, mein Gott, zu Dir,
Näher zu Dir!

Geht auch die schmale Bahn,
Aufwärts gar steil,
Führt sie doch himmelan
Zu meinem Heil.
Engel so licht und schön
Winken aus sel'gen Höhn:

Näher, mein Gott, zu Dir,
Näher zu Dir!

Ist dann die Nacht vorbei,
Leuchtet die Sonn,
Weih ich mich Dir aufs neu
Vor Deinem Thron,
Baue mein Bethel Dir,
Und jauchz mit Freuden hier:

Näher, mein Gott, zu Dir,
Näher zu Dir!

Ist mir auch ganz verhüllt
Mein Weg allhier:
Wird nur mein Wunsch erfüllt
Näher zu dir!
Schließt dann mein Pilgerlauf,
Schwing ich mich selig auf

Näher, mein Gott, zu Dir,
Näher zu Dir!

They don't sing all the verses in the video, but you get the idea.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!
Enjoy! Tell me which one you prefer!