Thursday, March 16, 2017

Singing the Faith: Day 11: Praise and Thanksgiving

Now thank we all our God

This hymn was written by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), the son of a coppersmith who was precentor (leader of music) at the church in Martin Luther’s home town of Eisleben. He became pastor of the church in his own native town of Eilenburg in 1617, and ministered there through over 30 years of bloodshed as rival armies from across Europe fought over this territory. He also lived and ministered through a terrible plague in 1637, when more than 8000 inhabitants of the town died. Rinkart buried over 4000 of them himself, sometimes conducting mass funerals for 50 people at a time.

Faced with these huge challenges, however, he learned to put his trust in God, saying “We can find no mercy with men; let us take refuge in God.”
It isn’t known exactly when the hymn was written, but it was widely sung when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648, and has remained popular ever since in Germany and latterly in Britain since it was translated by Catherine Winkworth (see day 8). The tune, “Nun Danket”, is often ascribed to Johann Cruger (1598-1662), the composer of many hymn tunes, since it first appeared in a book edited by him, but it may have been written by Rinkart himself, as he was a noted musician in his own right.

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 bless├Ęd 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 Holy Ghost,
supreme in highest heaven,
the one eternal God,
whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

  • What are you thankful for today? Do you find it easy, or even possible, to maintain an "attitude of gratitude" during tough times?

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