Original Research - Special Collection: Yolanda Dreyer Festschrift

Crossing boundaries of time and language: A discussion of the reception and translations of Martin Luther’s hymn A mighty fortress in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation 2017

J. Gertrud Tönsing
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 4 | a4643 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i4.4643 | © 2017 J. Gertrud Tönsing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2017 | Published: 10 November 2017

About the author(s)

J. Gertrud Tönsing, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa


The process of transmission and translation of texts has similarities with crossing borders into foreign territory, as immigrant or refugee. Not everything can be taken along, and finding acceptance in the new environment is sometimes difficult. Martin Luther’s hymn A mighty fortress has found a place in most denominational hymnals, but there are many disagreements about how it should be sung and what its meaning is. Has it really found a ‘home’ in the new settings, or is it still a foreigner? Does it have a ‘home’ even in its original language in the 21st century? Can this hymn be a unifying factor in the Reformation celebrations in 2017? This article analyses various translations and discusses issues of interpretation of this well-known Reformation hymn.


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