by Steve Brown
Now Thank We All Our God
“Now Thank We All Our God” was written by a Lutheran Pastor named Martin Rinkart, in Eilenburg, Saxony in the early 17th century. He lived during a time of great political strife. During the Thirty Years War his city was under siege by Swedish and Austrian armies. In addition, in 1637 a plague swept through the area and during one period of time, since he was the only surviving pastor, he was conducting some 50 funerals a day; including that of his own wife. What unbelievable hardship and strife! And yet, in the face of all this pain and sorrow, this hymn resounds with clarity and confidence in God’s providential care.
We’ve seen this before. A good example would be the Apostle Paul. He was placed in prison, had harrowing escapes, public debates, suffered terrible beatings, had chronic pain and illness, was ship wrecked; and yet wrote these familiar words: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Job, who lost his family, his health and all his earthly possessions, wrote:
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” – Job 1:21b
So this is the story behind the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God.” This is the message that you will get if you read books on Hymn History or if you even “google” – Now Thank We All Our God. But I have yet another message for you this morning. One that I just stumbled upon myself while reading the hymn text. You see, Pastor Rinkart had children. And his wife died, a civilian casualty of war, while the children were of a young age. Now Pastor Rinkart has a full church ministry, is conducting 50 funerals a day and is raising several young children. Yet he writes a song about being thankful for God’s blessings in the midst of all this chaos. Guess what Pastor Rinkart included in the very first verse of this hymn as something that he is thankful for? You guessed it – Mothers! Now you’ll see that this hymn is not only suited for a Thanksgiving service but for Mother’s Day as well.
Let’s join in Pastor Rinkart’s memory as we give thanks to our almighty and sovereign Lord this morning as we sing hymn number 610 (Now Thank We All Our God).
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 ever more.
Note – all scripture text is NIV (Zondervan Publishing)