Ein feste Burg is one of the best known of Martin Luther’s hymns. The words, a paraphrase of Psalm 46, and melody were written sometime between 1527 and 1529. It is strongly associated with the Reformation. The original melody was much more rhythmic, but it has been standardized into the isometric rhythm shown above.
Old Hundredth is a hymn tune in Long Meter from Pseaumes Octante Trois de David (1551) (the second edition of the Genevan Psalter) and is one of the best known melodies in all Christian musical traditions. The tune is usually attributed to the French composer Loys Bourgeois (c.1510 – c.1560). While first associated with Psalm 134 in the Genevan Psalter, the melody receives its current name from an association with the 100th Psalm, in a paraphrase by William Kethe entitled All People that on Earth do Dwell. Many other texts are also used with this melody, including a paraphrase of Psalm 117 by Isaac Watts as well as the text often referred to as the Doxology, written in 1674 by Thomas Ken, a clergyman in the Church of England:
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
A version was sung at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, with harmonization and arrangement by the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.
See a list of other popular hymn and chorale themes here.
Kerry Beaumont is the Director of Music at Coventry Cathedral. His recordings, as an organist and choirmaster, are published by Priory Records and Cantoris Records. Having studied organ improvisation with Antoine Reboulot in Quebec, Canada, and with Pierre Cochereau in Nice, France, he has pursued an active interest in the art of improvisation in his concert career.