Now Thank We All Our God

Martin Rinckart (1586-1649) was an accomplished musician who studied at the University of Leipzig and then spent most of his career as a musician and archdeacon in the city of Eilenburg. Germany during the Thirty Years’ War. British Hymnologist J.R. Watson accounts that as one of the last surviving ministers in the city, Rinckart had to stretch personal resources to take care of refugees and spend most of his time performing nearly fifty funerals per day at the height of the plague. This experience during the Thirty Years’ War had a profound impact on Rinckart’s poetry, just as it did for his hymnwriter contemporaries. Lutheran scholar Carl Schalk observes that the “cross and comfort” hymnody of the time reflected life situations of the people with greater metrical regularity, smoother language, and a theology relatable to everyday life. For someone in Rinckart’s dire situation, this expression of abundant gratitude is fitting for a man who lived in constant fear of starvation, the plague, and invading armies1.

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 hearts
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.

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