Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg. Refugees came for shelter from the war; the town was overcrowded.
In 1637 an epidemic struck Eilenburg; thousands died. Rinkart often conducted 40-50 funeral services each day – 4,480 funerals in all, including his own wife.
The plague led to a famine. Surrounded by poverty, overwhelming pressure, constant risk and horrendous conditions, Rinkart never stopped ministering, sharing food with the hungry, giving away nearly everything he owned to the poor and needy.
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 still in grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
and free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.
Rinkart had been through war, epidemic and famine, experiencing bereavement, suffering and tragedy. He wrote not a lament, cry for mercy or prayer for healing. He wrote a hymn of thankfulness.
His active God provided good things. His grateful heart recalled that since his ‘mother’s arms’ days he had received countless gifts of love, joy, peace, grace and guidance.
He had certain hope. His good, eternal God had spared and sustained him through this life. There was something bigger and better than human suffering in heaven.
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.
‘Now Thank We All Our God’ written in German by Lutheran pastor, writer and theologian Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
Some things don’t change – religious wars, political struggles, epidemics, death, refugees….
Musing on thankfulness this last week… Rinkart sets us an example…