A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Ein' Feste Burg

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EIN' FESTE BURG. Luther's version of Psalm xlvi. The hymn was probably written at Coburg 1530; the tune seems to have appeared first in 'Psalmen und geistliche Lieder,' Strassburg, Wolfgang Köphl, probably 1538. The form of the tune now in use is that given by Sebastian Bach in various cantatas, especially in that for the 'Festo Reformationis' (Bachgesellschaft, xviii. No. 80), and differs somewhat from Luther's original. The words have also been modernised. We give both words and melody in their first shape from von Winterfeld's 'Luther's deutsche geistliche Lieder.'

{ \time 2/2 
  << \new Staff
   { \new Voice = "melody" \key f \major \clef alto \relative f'
     { \cadenzaOn \repeat volta 2 { r1 r2 f f1 f c d2 f1( e2) d1 c \bar ""
       r2 f e1 d c d2 bes1( a2 g1) f } r2 f a2.( bes4 c1) d( c) bes2 c1 \bar"|"
       f, c' d e f \bar "|"
       r e f e d c \bar "|" 
       d d c2 d c2 a1 \bar "|"
       r2 f' e1 d c d2 bes1( a2 g1) f\breve \bar "||"
     }
   }
\new Lyrics \lyricsto "melody" {
   << { Ein fes -- te burg ist uns -- er Gott, Ein gu -- te wehr und waf -- fen. }
   \new Lyrics { \set associatedVoice = "melody"
       Er hilft uns frey aus all -- er not, die uns itzt hat be -- trof -- fen, } >>
    der alt bö -- se feind, mit ernst ers itzt meint, 
    Gros macht und viel list, sein graus -- am rüs -- tung ist; Auff erd ist nicht seins gleich -- en. }
>> }
The tune has been used as the foundation of various pieces of music, such as Bach's cantata just referred to; the Finale of Mendelssohn's 'Reformation Symphony'; a Fest-ouverture by O. Nicolai; an overture by Raff; and Wagner's 'Kaisermarsch.' It is also largely employed by Meyerbeer in the Huguenots.

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