Now Thank We All Our God

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories

“Now Thank We All Our God” is a staple of many a country parish, often coming out for an airing at Harvest. It speaks of the blessings God pours out upon us, but I hadn’t heard the story behind the hymn until Peter Houghton drew my attention to it.

The author, Martin Rinkart, was a pastor in Saxony, or modern day Germany. He was born in 1586, and by that time the Lutheran church was the state church of that region. Aged 31 we was called to pastor Eilenburg and he arrived just before the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War. Although not well known these days, this war was the cause of eight million deaths and devastated the German states. Overall the male population was reduced by half.

Eilenberg was a walled city, and throughout the period was over-crowded. Along with the war, plague raged during this time and in 1637 (the year after the hymn was written) the city was suffered with a particularly severe outbreak. After burying two fellow ministers, and watching another two flee the city, Rinkart was the only minister to remain, and conducted forty to fifty funerals a day.

Such was the man who penned this hymn, from a city which was three times over-run by armies and which for decades suffered from plagues. It was originally penned as a prayer to be said before meals, but soon became a hymn in its own right. It stands as a testament to the grace of God in the midst of suffering.

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has 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 heart
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.


Peace beyond Understanding

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6) - When we place our present, and our future, in the hands of Almighty God we can lie content that we are in safe hands indeed.

The Everlasting Arms

“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27) - Sometimes it takes the stripping away of the familiar to reveal the care and presence of God.

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