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Photo: Martha Grimm Brady

 

 

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
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 heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.

Martin Rinkart was born in 1586 and died in 1649. He wrote this hymn in 1636, about 20 years after the death of John Calvin who was in Geneva, Switzerland.

He was a pastor in the very famous Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig, Germany. Johann Sebastian Bach was the musical director. Can you even imagine pastoring a church where Bach was music director? Wow!

He was a graduate of Leipzig University. The tune we are used to singing was written by Bach. Interestingly, the tune is rather simple with only 7 different notes in the tune…not even a full octave! It is truly beautiful!

Later, he rose through deacon, pastor, to archdeacon or even bishop in Eilenburg, Germany. His life in that last location was during what we call The Thirty Years War.

Some think this song was completed about the time the peace treaty was signed at the end of the 30 year war which was evidently a horrible war that killed 40-50% of the population in many of the cities from starvation and disease…including Martin’s wife! It was very hard on this particular city.

If you are interested in more historic details both of regular history and church history, click here to see this longer article.

One of the interesting points made regarding this hymn is how appropriate it is for Thanksgiving, a holiday not celebrated as such in Germany. The point was made that the first verse of the song is based more on Romans 12:1.

The last verse is an extended doxology. Click To Tweet

The really interesting thing pointed out is that the last verse is an extended doxology. I never thought of it that way before, but it is quite interesting…and is a wonderful doxology for sure! This is certainly a wonderful hymn of praise and worship to our great and awesome GOD who has blessed us since birth!

To think we were gifted with these words since the early 1600’s is stunning! Blessings to you all during this season of Thanksgiving.