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Music for Invocabit-First Sunday in Lent

He’s by our side upon the plain, With His good gifts and Spirit   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (656) is Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) hymn on Psalm 46.  This beloved hymn of many has been translated into more languages than any other and is sung by Christians throughout the world.

It is a fitting hymn for today’s Gospel.  Our Lord endured temptation for us to defeat our great enemy Satan.  He is the Valiant One, the Lord of Sabaoth (Hebrew: “angel armies”), our Word, who fights for us on the plain of the battlefield of sin, death, and temptation of this earthly life.

Our Lord Jesus Christ defeats the devil with His Word, and sends His Spirit in His gifts of Preaching and the Sacraments.  Although all else be taken from us, He sustains us and wins the victory.

It was likely written for the Diet of Speyer on April 20, 1529, when the German princes made their formal protest against the removal of their liberties.  With this hymn Luther protested against any endeavor to obstruct the Gospel.  Luther, a fine musician, also wrote the tune.

Who Trusts in God, A Strong Abode   The DISTRIBUTION HYMN (714) is based on Psalm 73.25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.  My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

Written by Joachim Magdeburg (1525-1583), it, too, fits in with the temptation of Jesus in the Gospel.  The wrath of Satan comes our way, the world scorns us, and temptation is always near.  But our confident prayer in the face of adversity ever remains: “O God, renew with heavenly dew, Our body, soul, and spirit.  Until we stand at Thy right hand, Through Jesus’ saving merit.”

Magdeburg studied at Wittenberg and, opposing the doctrines of the Roman church, was banished from his pastorate in 1552.  He later became pastor in Hamburg, and together with Matthias Flacius (1520-1575) he complied the historical work “The Magdeburg Centuries.”

The lessons are Genesis 3.1–21; 2 Corinthians 6.1–10; and St. Matthew 4.1–11.
The hymns are: 663 Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray
656 A Mighty Fortress is Our God
714 Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode
421 Jesus, Grant that Balm and Healing
557 Seek Where You May to Find a Way
562 All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall
Prelude: A Mighty Fortress is Our God – Dietrich Buxtehude
Voluntary: A Mighty Fortress is Our God – Hans Leo Hassler

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