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Published on Oct 20, 2008
"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (German, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott) is the best known of Martin Luther's hymns. Luther wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527-1529. It has been translated into English at least seventy times and also into many other languages. The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 46.
In popular culture The hymn was sung at the National Cathedral during the funeral service for United States President Dwight David Eisenhower.  A version of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was used as the theme for the children's television series Davey and Goliath, which was produced for the Lutheran Church in America. Part of it can also be heard in the made-for-TV movie, A Separate Peace. "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is the first song that the main character of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man encounters, chronologically within his own life. A Caribbean-style instrumental version is included in the Van Dyke Parks album Clang of the Yankee Reaper (1976), erroneously given as Johann Pachelbel's Canon. Mystery Science Theater 3000 used the song as a running gag during the film "The Rebel Set", in which the mastermind of a bank heist disguised himself as a Lutheran minister. The series was produced in the state of Minnesota, which has a large Lutheran population. A Mighty Fortress was the name of a supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game; this supplement depicted the Renaissance and wars of religion as a campaign setting for this roleplaying game. In the animated TV series The Simpsons the doorbell chimes of Ned Flanders, the cheerfully devout next door neighbor, sometimes ring "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." The WB series The Gilmore Girls features this hymn in an episode of the series' third season, when Zach, Brian and Dave are practicing for a gig at Mrs. Kim's house. The band re-writes the hymn after Zach protests the lyrics. The prison warden ironically whistles this tune in Frank Darabont's movie Shawshank Redemption. The instrumental is played in the background during a collage of scenes in the movie American Gangster. In Medieval II: Total War, the building description for a fortress begins with the words "A might fortress is our God... but strong walls and towers help". However, a different description is seen when the player does not choose a Catholic Faction. Is sung during Brom's funeral in the HBO series Deadwood.