Thursday, 26 March 2015

"A mighty fortress is our God" - Martin Luther, 1483-1546

This great war song of the Reformation, written by Martin Luther, has heartened many a German army going into battle, and has given courage to many a son of Germany amid the hardships of strange lands. It was sung every day by Luther and his friends. Before the battle of Leipzig, September 17, 1631, the whole army of Gustavus Adolphus sang the hymn. 

The story is still repeated by the Germans of Herkimer County, New York, of John Christian Bush, who settled there with his family of six children and founded the village of Shell s Bush. On the afternoon of August 6, 1781, a band of Indians, led by Donald McDonald, a Scotch refugee, attacked the village. Bush, who was working in the field when they came, hurriedly assembled his people within his block-house, all except two of his children who were captured by the Indians. All afternoon and far into the night they fought furiously, Bush's wife doing valiant service in loading the guns, so that the men might never be empty-handed. Each time the Indians attacked the door they were forced back. Once they broke down the door, but the quick firing halted them. McDonald was wounded and dragged within the fort by the Germans, and the Indians fled. Then the patriots sang: 

"A mighty fortress is our God, 
A bulwark never failing." 

Again the Indians attacked and again were repulsed, while Bush and his victorious neighbors sang the rest of the hymn as a paean of thankfulness to God for preserving their lives in the midst of peril.  

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