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Now Thank We All Our God

When the world is at war, any town can become a pretty miserable place to be. Eilenberg, Germany, in the early 17th century, was no exception.

During the Thirty Years War, Eilenberg became a refuge. The city was well defended so people fled to her for safety. Unfortunately, the city’s size and defenses were not enough. The masses of people suffered disease and starvation and the city was overrun by hostile troops on more than one occasion.

Martin Rinkart had just taken the position of pastor at a Lutheran Church in Eilenberg. By 1637, he was the only pastor who remained in the city. All the others had died or left. He presided over 4480 funerals that year, including as many as 50 in one day. The most difficult was the service he conducted for his own wife. That was in May.

How does one keep his mooring in a world like that? How does a pastor keep his eye on God while a pandemic rages? How can you be thankful while the world around you is crumbling? Martin found some solace in writing hymns. In spite of the horrors that surrounded him on a daily basis, he desired to lift the spirits of his people so he wrote the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

It has become a hymn of Thanksgiving in America, being sung only during the holiday season, but it is still quite popular in Germany. It is the second most sung hymn among Lutherans after “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The music is uplifting and the lyrics are deeply spiritual but the most impressive aspect of this hymn is that it was written by a man who stayed faithful and focused in spite of the harsh and evil realities of death, pandemic and war.

Pray and sing these lyrics earnestly, this Thanksgiving, and remember how easy it is to forget how wonderfully blessed our lives are. Even in a time of pandemic fears, lockdowns, masks and hand sanitizer, we can find something to be thankful for.


1-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.

2-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!

3-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.

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