Scripture Verse

Now thanks be unto God. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Introduction

portrait
Catherine Winkworth
(1827–1878)

Words: Mar­tin Rink­art, cir­ca 1636 (Nun dan­ket alle Gott). First ap­peared in Prax­is Pi­e­ta­tis Me­li­ca, by Jo­hann Crü­ger (Ber­lin: 1647). Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Ca­the­rine Wink­worth, 1856.

Music: Nun Danket at­trib­ut­ed to Jo­hann Crü­ger, 1647. Har­mo­ny by Fe­lix Men­dels­sohn, 1840 (🔊 pdf nwc). Though the tune is found Crü­ger’s Prax­is Pi­e­ta­tis Me­li­ca, and is at­trib­ut­ed to Crü­ger, Ca­the­rine Wink­worth be­lieved Ma­rtin Rink­art wrote the tune in 1644.

portrait
Johann Crüger
(1598–1662)

Origin of the Hymn

Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in 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. 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 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.

Soon af­ter, the Thir­ty Years’ War end­ed, and Rink­art wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion ser­vice.

It is a tes­ta­ment to his faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude tow­ard God.

Lyrics

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.