Random Question

Someone wrote in to ask:

Do you know of a *good* recorded version of Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress” that someone could buy?  By this I mean it is sung by a large group of people who know why they are singing it, in as neutral a style as possible.

I suppose a “neutral style” means one that won’t offend conservative musical tastes, but is still passionate. Since I don’t know of a recording like this, I thought I’d see if anyone else did.


21 Responses to Random Question

  1. michael bells August 23, 2006 at 9:41 AM #

    Is it really possible to use “conservative” and “passionate” in the same sentence? If something is passionate, it seems that it is almost sure to offend someone.
    So, good luck

  2. Tim Challies August 23, 2006 at 9:44 AM #

    I have a fairly extensive collection of MP3s (must be 6000+ by now). A search for “A Mighty Fortress” turned up two. The first is from an album called “Rock Power Praise.” I don’t even know where this one came from (a compilation, perhaps?), but I’d recommend avoiding it, unless you want to imagine Luther wearing spandex and screeching along to electric guitar. The second is by the Maranatha Praise Band and appears to be from an album called “Best of Promise Keepers.” It is done by a male choir. It starts out fairly well, with a choir singing along with organ, but soon breaks into fairly typical Maranatha music. The choir keeps singing (and singing well) but a contemporary band takes over a soloist keeps hollering “A Mighty Fortress! Oh yeah, a mighty fortress!”

    So to answer the question, no, I don’t know of a good recording in a neutral style. The Marantha version is moderately better than nothing, though.

  3. Tommy Myrick August 23, 2006 at 9:58 AM #

    While not recorded in its entirety, Brian Doerksen recorded a traditional edition of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” on the “Today” CD.

  4. amy August 23, 2006 at 11:25 AM #

    Ooh, ooh, I do! :)

    “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is known as the “anthem”/”theme song” of the Indiana Wesleyan University chorale, which I was blessed to be a part of for four years. It’s an eight-part a cappella arrangement (I don’t remember the arranger). “Passionate” would definitely describe how we sang it!

    I have the mp3 file on my computer. How/to whom shall I send it? I am relatively sure the CD is available for purchase through the university. It’s on an older recording, I believe.

  5. Bob Kauflin August 23, 2006 at 12:57 PM #


    I told the gentleman who made the request that I’d be posting his question on the blog. But just in case he doesn’t see it, you can e-mail me for his info.

  6. Kimberly August 23, 2006 at 3:35 PM #

    Didn’t Glad do an acapella version of this song? ;-) From what I remember of it, it fits the bill; passionate but conservative (as long as you’re okay with acapella).

  7. Alise August 23, 2006 at 5:17 PM #

    Tommy Walker has a very good arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress.” It opens with a men’s chorus singing unison to a pipe organ, then moves to an acoustic guitar led version. It doesn’t lose any of the passion, but it also doesn’t go over the top in trying to be “modern.” It does include a “new” chorus (which is basically just “A mighty fortress, a mighty fortress is our God!” sung over and over), but I don’t think there’s anything in it that would offend anyone who prefers more traditional music.

    You can download the sheet music for it here: http://www.freehandmusic.com/ProductDetail.aspx?PRODID=202121

    The church we recently moved into has a pipe organ, and this arrangement has been wonderful in integrating that into our modern worship set.

  8. Doug Eaton August 23, 2006 at 6:15 PM #

    I don’t have any recommendations for you but wanted to say keep up the good work. Worship does matter!


  9. Scott Hill August 23, 2006 at 8:09 PM #

    I have a really good version “Promise Keepers” did about 10 years ago, but it has drums and electric guitar in it, plus a guitar solo that Mark Altrogge could have done announcements to. Even if you can’t use it its worth listening to.

  10. Sarah August 23, 2006 at 9:34 PM #

    Maranatha recorded “A Mighty Fortress” on an album in their Praise & Worship Series: Hymns and Choruses, either Vol. 3 or 4…this was at least a decade ago, so it may be hard to get the actual recording…(I had the cassette, but not sure if it is still in my possession :) however, their Green Book (4th edition songbook)has the song with a slightly different harmonization, but basically same tempo as the original if you want sheet music…there is a split track CD available (as well as other accompaniment resources), but I don’t believe it includes vocals. Maybe this will help. Sincerely, Sarah

  11. Michael Warner August 23, 2006 at 11:25 PM #

    I am a songwriter and producer. I was commisioned by the Lutheran church in the Reading, PA area to produce a mini play on the life of Martin Luther. We closed with a “rousing” rendition of A Mighty Fortress (the entire cast of 8 was able to carry a tune well!). I began it with traditional pipe organ. Second verse brought in drums and guitar. The climax of the song was BIG. The crowd of nearly 1000 conservative Lutherans not only joined in singing, but gave us a standing ovation at the close of the play. I would be happy to share this version with you, which I recorded in my studio… but it is on a DAT format, and my machine is broken. I will not be able to get it repaired for 2 weeks. I could probably find a tape demo (full of hiss) that you could at least get an idea of it, and you could let me know. Interested?

  12. Scott Sterner August 24, 2006 at 1:28 AM #

    There is a relatively “neutral” version of “A Mighty Fortress” that we considered borrowing a “groove” from in a church service months ago. The arrangement is available on itunes. It is by the “Acoustic Hymn Singers” and is accompanied by guitar, snare drum/cymbal, and cello. It is a unique instrumental approach that would likely be unoffensive to most. If you have the technology available, just go to the itunes music store and type in “Acoustic Hymn Singers” and you’ll find it right away. I will forewarn that the vocal style is a bit dated sounding and may be less passionate than what you desire. I hope this is helpful!

  13. Katherine August 24, 2006 at 8:32 AM #

    There is a very traditional rendering of A Mighty Fortress is Our God (and other hymns) on the website of A Center for Church Music. The link to this song is http://www.songsandhymns.com/Brix?pageID=5803# I can’t speak to their passion because a good choir can sound passionate about any song they sing. Isn’t passion more about the heart of the singer/hearer than about the sound?

  14. Bob Kauflin August 24, 2006 at 9:11 AM #


    Isn’t passion more about the heart of the singer/hearer than about the sound?

    Good question. I wouldn’t say passion is MORE about the heart of the singer/hearer than the sound. Both are important. I can benefit from a passionless performance because I want to seek God’s glory in everything around me. So, for that reason I can’t say I didn’t worship God last Sunday because the leader led without passion. However, someone who leads or sings with passion demonstrates that passion in various ways – through their countenance, their gestures, their intensity, etc. Ps. 34:5 implies this:

    “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

    When I buy a CD to listen to, I’m not particulary interested in listening to singers who have passion in their hearts but none in their voices. We might define passion in different ways, and it might look/sound differently from person to person, but there is no question that it’s demonstrated in SOME way.

  15. Trillia Newbell August 24, 2006 at 11:27 PM #

    Since you take random questions…I was wondering how the book was going and if you’d care to give us all an update. Still praying! Looking forward to it.

    In Him,

    Trillia Newbell

  16. Mark S. August 25, 2006 at 1:18 AM #

    I just graduated with a music degree, and for my senior recital encore I conducted the university praise choir in my own arrangement of “Mighty Fortress.” It’s musically different (through-composed with ambitious concepts), has bits of “Immortal, Invisible” thrown in, and is probably not what you’re looking for. But you can listen to it here if you like.

    On a side note, Steve Green sang a very powerful, acapella version of Mighty Fortress on his People Need the Lord album. You can find a clip of it here.

  17. Matt Crutchmer August 26, 2006 at 10:46 PM #

    Thanks to all who have responded to this question. I’ve asked for input because I cherish this song of Luther’s, yet I just can not find a recorded rendition that does it justice. iTMS is full of them, but acapella, folk, jazz, *swing* just do not get the job done. Katherine’s version linked above comes the closest, so thanks!

    I am not against contemporary music at all, esp. hymns done in such a style. Indelible Grace and Sandra McCracken’s album The Builder and the Architect are our family’s favorites. Upward is a fantastic album, and its “Before the Throne” has become indispensible to our worship. What I mean is, I’m not looking for ‘old’ for old’s sake (usually meaning ‘boring’), nor for ‘new’ for new’s sake (usually meaning ‘bad or tasteless’). I’m looking for well-done and whole-hearted singing, with no cheese in sight.

    If I were king, I’d demand the recording of this song sung at the Together for the Gospel conference that Bob led us in (actually, Bob and Ligon Duncan led). Absolutely amazing to be in that place. I’ll just have to record it at Bethlehem after another sermon like this.

  18. Jon Daley August 31, 2006 at 12:08 PM #

    I find it interesting that a couple other people also mentioned Promise Keepers. I just popped the tape in yesterday to listen to a bunch of it, but specifically the recording of, “A Mighty Fortress”.

    The first verse is inspiring, yet could probably fit the “conservative” bit, since it is a large unison male choir with a nice organ, and tempo/rhythm is straight and reasonably paced.

    It fails the “conservative” test when the first verse ends, with percussion and guitars come in. Hrm, funny that percussion no longer fits the “conservative” test. Better not tell David.

    I am listening to the song as I type – I guess I have not heard the “oh yeah” yelling before, or at least it has not been distracting before.

    This recording is from 1997, Maranatha, “Promise Keepers: Conference Edition: The Making of a Godly Man”.

  19. mounty September 6, 2006 at 10:05 AM #

    Might not be as “new” as some of the other suggestions, but an excellent CD of traditional English church music done by a very well-trained English choir is “Sing Ye Heavens: Hymns for All Time” by the Cambridge Singers under the direction of John Rutter. Track 3 is “A Mighty Fortress.” There are other old English hymns on there – Watts’ “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” the original “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” and Ellerton’s “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended.” The arrangements range from a capella to solo accompaniment to full orchestra.

  20. Cindy Dryden September 12, 2006 at 9:51 AM #

    Don’t know if you’re still interested in an arrangement of A Mighty Fortress, but, probably decades ago, the Second Chapter of Acts put out two “albums” Hymns I and Hymns II. This hymn is included in one of them as are others, some that might be of interest to you. I love the hymns and am excited about recent “reworking” of them that make them more effective and reach a wider audience than the elderly who grew up with them.

  21. David W. February 19, 2010 at 4:04 PM #

    I don’t know if you are still searching for this or not, but here is a version I recorded and put on youtube..

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