Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation 2005

As a teenager I was privileged to live in Germany for three years as a military dependent. Heidleberg was my home, and the Patrick Henry Village Chapel was my place of worship. Our choir director was German, and for special occasions, the chapel choir sang with the Hockenheim Evangelische Kirche choir in a combined group known as the Deutsche Amerikanische Kantorei.

One such occasion was the yearly observance of Reformation Sunday, held in the Protestant church in Worms, not far from Heidelberg. These services were conducted in English. In 1967 we helped celebrate the 450th anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the Wittenburg cathedral door.

The service was quite liturgical, and one part has stuck with me for nearly 40 years -- a setting of the 46th psalm to a hauntingly beautiful psalm tone. "A Mighty Fortress is our God", Luther's famous hymn based on Psalm 46 was also sung every year I participated.

So, in honor of the 488th anniversary of Luther's courageous call for debate, following is the Psalm that was so important to him:

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Ps 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

Ps 46:3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.


Ps 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

Ps 46:5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Ps 46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

Ps 46:7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Ps 46:8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

Ps 46:9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

Ps 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Ps 46:11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.



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