If not for his hymn “Now Thank We All Our God”, we might never have known the name Martin Rinkart. Rinkart was a Lutheran pastor who lived in Saxony during the brutal Thirty Years’ War in the first half of the 17th century.
Rinkart lived and ministered in the walled city of Eilenburg, which became a haven for political and religious refugees, leading to overcrowding that brought famine and disease. A severe plague ravaged the city in 1637, and at its height Rinkart, the only surviving minister in the city, was performing as many as 50 funerals per day. He is said to have performed over 4,000 funerals that year, including his wife’s.
Under those awful conditions and constant military threats, Rinkart continued to serve God and the people of Eilenburg. And even in that world dominated by death and disease, he penned the words of one of the most well-known hymns of thanksgiving:
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 is highest heaven,
The one eternal God, Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
Happy Thanksgiving from NHIM!