O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe The HYMN OF THE DAY (666) is a battle hymn against Satan and his works and ways. Although the devil has great power, he is no match for Our Lord Jesus. We join with Our Lord’s saints and martyrs in a mighty chorus of praise: “Amen, Lord Jesus, hear our prayer… Fight for us once again.”
Throughout history, this hymn was attributed to different authors: King Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632), Jacob Fabricus (1593-1654), and Johann Michael Altenburg (1584-1640). It is now widely accepted that Altenburg was the author.
Altenburg, a pastor and musician, was forced to flee his town of Gross-Sömmern due to numerous invasions during the Thirty Years’ War.
The hymn was associated with all three men as it was sung at the 1632 battle of Lützen where Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, was killed, and at which time Fabricus was serving as his chaplain.
Published in pamphlet form in 1632, it was printed in the Leipzig hymnbook of 1638, described as “A soul-rejoicing hymn of consolation upon the watchword—God with us—used by the Evangelical army in the battle of Leipzig, Sept 7, 1631, composed by M. Johann Altenburg, pastor at Gross Sömmern in Düringen.”
The VOLUNTARY is “My Spirit, Be Joyful” from J.S. Bach’s Cantata 146, movement 7, for Jubilate. Today’s version is transcribed for trumpet, organ, and timpani; the original version was a tenor/bass duet aria with the text:
How will I be joyful, how will I take comfort,
When all of this transient sadness is past!
I’ll gleam like the heavens, and shine like the sunlight,
When vex shall my heavenly bliss
No grieving, weeping, and lament.