This post appeared Nov.22, 2012 on Pastor Mark’s blog
Now thank we all our God
The famous hymn of thanksgiving below was written by Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor who served his hometown of Eilenburg, Saxony, during the Thirty Years’ War. The walled city of Eilenburg saw a steady stream of refugees pour through its gates. The Swedish army surrounded the city, and famine and plague were rampant. Eight hundred homes were destroyed, and the people began to perish. Pastor Rinkart’s wife was among the dead. There was a tremendous strain on the pastors who had to conduct dozens of funerals daily. Finally, the pastors, too, succumbed and Rinkart was the only one left—doing 40-50 funerals a day. When the Swedes demanded a huge ransom, Rinkart left the safety of the walls to plead for mercy. The Swedish commander, impressed by his faith and courage, lowered his demands. When it was all over, 4,800 people had died.
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.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd 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 evermore.
Martin Rinkart has left the world a story, and a hymn, that testify to the faith and joy that are deeper and more enduring than the passing shades of happiness, stronger than suffering and death. Martin was not able to do what he did because he was great. He carried the burdens of so many, together with his own – with joy and thanksgiving in his heart – because he had a great Lord.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”