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Now Thank We All Our God
I Chronicles 29:13
NUN DANKET  |  Hymn History  |  Bible Passage
Author: Martin Rinkart, 1586-1649
Trans. By Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878
Musician: Johann Cruger, 1598-1662
Har. By Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847

  Play Music | MP3 • Click to listen to the music for this hymn.

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In Whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers' arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heav'n adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.



HYMN HISTORY:

The next of a hymn may give us an inkling about the life and work of its writer. For instance, the chorale "A Mighty Fortress" reveals the cataclysmic struggle between God and satanic powers, which parallels Martin Luther's crusade against the entrenched and decadent ecclesiastics of the 16th century. Another hymn like Rinkart's "Now Thank We All Our God" may seem to have little connection with the period and the situation in which it was produced. Investigation into its history turns up amazing facts.

Martin Rinkart was a pastor at Eilenberg, Saxony during the Thirty Years' War (I618-1648). Because Eilenberg was a walled city, it became a severely overcrowded refuge for political and military fugitives from far and severely near. As a result, the entire city suffered from famine and disease. In 1637 a great pestilence swept through the area, resulting in the death of some eight thousand persons, including Rinkart's wife. At that time he was the only minister in Eilenberg because the others had either died or fled. Rinkart alone conducted the burial services for 4480 people, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 a day!

During the closing years of the war, Eilenberg was overrun or besieged three times, once by the Austrian army and twice by the Swedes. On one occasion, the Swedish general demanded that the townspeople make a payment of 30,000 thalers. Martin Rinkart served as intermediary, pleading that the impoverished city could not meet such a levy; however, his request was disregarded. Turning to his companions the pastor said, 'Come my children, we can find no mercy with man; let us take refuge with God.' On his knees he led them in a fervent prayer and in the singing of a familiar hymn, "When In The Hour Of Utmost Need." The Swedish Commander was so moved that he reduced the levy to 1,350 thalers.

We may well ask why all this dramatic experience and difficulty is not reflected in Rinkart's hymn. Had the good pastor seen so much stark tragedy that he had become insensitive to human needs and problems? Of course not. He simply had come to believe that God's providence is always good, no matter how much we are tempted to doubt it.

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Though all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.


BIBLE PASSAGE:

13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.



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