A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

(purchase entire string hymns album)

The hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, written by Martin Luther, has had wide-spread influence throughout Christendom, having been used by many well-respected musicians throughout history, starting with J.S. Bach in his chorale cantata “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (BWV 80). 

Other well-known composers include Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Pachelbel, Felix Mendelssohn, Claude Debussy, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and more recently jazz pianist Bob James.

The message of God’s protection is as ancient as the Scriptural texts from which it is inspired.  Having faith in His capacity to protect and defend us against all forces that would attempt to bring harm to our lives is foundational to the Christian faith.  This protection even defies death itself: “That through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb. 2:14-15)  “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” (I Cor. 15:54-55)

This conviction is not only relevant for eternity, but also for our daily existence, as the following two passages reveal a truth beneficial to our personal relationships.

“The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe (set on high)” (Prov. 18:10)

“The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted” (Prov. 29:25)

The words “safe” and “exalted” in the Hebrew are the same word: sagab, which means to be inaccessibly high, having the connotation of security, a place of safety to the one fleeing or to the one at rest in a fortified height which would be inaccessible to beast and enemy alike.

How many people curry the favor of various communities and leaders, only to be let down in one way or another.  “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.” (Prov. 29:30)

Eventually, man’s ideas, communities, governments, authorities and protection all fail.  But there is an absolute foundation of strength and power to those who unite to Him by faith.  “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we may confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6)

Throughout the ages, thousands will attest that He is faithful to all who put their trust in Him.  “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom. 10:11)

 

 

 

 

Holy, Holy, Holy

Here's a string quartet arrangement I wrote using the melody from the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy".

(purchase entire string hymns album)

Heaven is filled with the praises of God.  All of His created beings acknowledge His beauty and worth.  The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of some of this activity: 

“And the four living creatures, each having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (Rev. 4:8)

The word Holy (Gr. hàgios) means: set apart, chaste, pure, clean, virtuous, blameless, without blemish. 

Living this human life, it’s hard to imagine anything (or anyone) being completely perfect.  Everyone has some flaw, some vice.  Even the creation itself seems to have imperfections, some quite noticeable, others less noticeable, but still there, nonetheless.

The only place true holiness can exist is somewhere outside our natural experience.  As perfect as man tries to be, he ultimately will fall short of complete holiness this side of heaven. 

The Apostle Paul shows the answer to this dilemma:

“Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Rom. 7:24,25; 8:1)

God alone is holy, and He has extended His holiness to those who accept His love and forgiveness through Christ Jesus.  We are holy only through His benevolent forgiveness.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (I Pet. 2:9,10)

Again, in Revelation, there was a book with seven seals that needed to be opened, and the question was asked, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” 

“And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look into it.  And I (John) began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”  (Rev. 5:2-5)

Jesus, the spotless, pure Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of all humanity, is holy, and He has graciously extended His holiness to those who trust in Him.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  All the saints adore Thee,

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,

Which wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Tho’ the darkness hide Thee,

Tho’ the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee

Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!

All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea;

Holy, Holy, Holy!

Merciful and Mighty!

God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!