Luther was indeed a man of prayer.It is fitting then that Luther would write a hymn explaining each part of the Lord’s Prayer. In fact, “Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above” is called a Catechism Chorale, based on the Luther’s Catechism section of the Lord’s Prayer. For the church service, this chorale could be separated into two or three sections with a section sung after each Scripture reading. The melody is of unknown origin. No doubt, Luther adapted it for his text. Many people regard this Catechism Chorale as the finest of Martin Luther’s hymns.
One thing to note is the use of the Lord’s Prayer in elaborate musical settings. The old musical masters always felt that the Lord’s Prayer was too sacred to ever be the setting for an elaborate musical piece. They thought the Lord’s Prayer should be prayed by pastor and congregation or by the pastor alone with the congregation responding with the doxology. There are no elaborate musical compositions of the Lord’s Prayer by Bach, Pachelbel, Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven, or others of the old masters. In the above hymn, Luther didn’t write an elaborate musical piece on the Lord’s Prayer, but rather explained each part in the stanzas.
—Pastor Gordon Waterman
1. Our Father, Thou in heav’n above,
Who biddest us to dwell in love,
As brethren of one family,
To cry in ev’ry need to Thee,
Teach us no thoughtless words to say,
But from our inmost heart to pray.
2. Thy name be hallowed, help us, Lord,
In purity to keep Thy Word,
That to the glory of Thy name
We walk before Thee free from blame.
Let no false doctrine us pervert;
All poor, deluded souls convert.
3. Thy kingdom come. Thine let it be
In time and in eternity.
Let Thy good spirit e/er be nigh
Our hearts with graces to supply.
Break Satan’s pow’r, defeat his rage;
Preserve Thy Church from age to age.
4. Thy gracious will on earth be done
As ’tis in heaven before Thy throne;
Obedience in our weal and woe
And patience in all grief bestow.
Curb flesh and blood and every ill
That sets itself against Thy will.
5. Give us this day our daily bread
And let us all be clothed and fed.
From war and strife be our Defense,
From famine and from pestilence,
That we may live in godly peace,
Free from all care and avarice.
6. Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore,
Remove from us their burden sore,
As we their trespasses forgive
Who by offenses us to grieve.
Thus let us dwell in charity
Ans serve our brother willingly.
7. Into temptation lead us not.
When evil foes against us plot
And vex our souls on every hand,
Oh, give us strength that we may stand
Firm in the faith, a well-armed host,
Through comfort of the Holy Ghost!
8. From evil, Lord, deliver us;
The times and days are perilous.
Redeem us from eternal death,
And when we yield our dying breath,
Console us, grant us calm release,
And take our souls to Thee in peace.
9. Amen, that is, So shall it be.
Confirm our faith and hope in Thee
That we may doubt not, but believe
What here we ask we shall receive.
Thus in Thy name and at Thy word
We say: Amen; Oh, hear us, Lord!
By Martin Luther, 1539
Based on Matthew 6:9 ff.