John Zdechlik (born 1937 in Minnesota, USA) has, at least among the wind band crowd, one of the most recognizable and mispronounced names of any composer. (It’s “zuh-DEK-lik” according to Wikipedia).  He studied composition at the University of Minnesota under Frank Bencriscutto, Paul Fetler, and Dominick Argento, leading to a Ph.D. in 1970.  He achieved early success with compositions for band, including Psalm 46 and Chorale and Shaker Dance, which led to a compositional output dominated by wind band works.  He also taught at Century College in White Bear Lake, MN, until 1997.  He was elected to the American Bandmasters Association, one of the wind band’s highest honors, in 1989.  His works continue to be performed around the world.  Visit his website to see more.

Psalm 46 was first published in 1971.  Its score bears the following program note:

Psalm 46 is based upon the chorale melody from A Mighty Fortress is our God, the best known Martin Luther hymn which was composed sometime between 1527 and 1529. The hymn’s words paraphrase Psalm 46. Zdechlik’s setting is divided into four major sections with a wide variety of styles and meters that draw to a powerful heroic conclusion.  The work, originally published in 1971, is dedicated to Mr. Leon Titus and the Concordia College Band, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Here is the official publisher’s recording:

It is based on a hymn by Martin Luther, presented here in English as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”:

In German, that would be “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” presented as such in an arrangement much more contemporary to Luther himself:

Johann Sebastian Bach, perhaps history’s second most famous Lutheran (after Luther himself) treated this tune on multiple occasions, including in this Chorale Prelude (BWV 720) for organ:

And this chorale cantata, BWV 80:

Numerous other compositions for band have used this tune, including James Curnow’s Rejouissance and Warren Benson’s The Leaves Are Falling.

Read more at the Wind Repertory Project.