454. Now Thank We All Our God

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

Text Information
First Line: Now thank we all our God
Title: Now Thank We All Our God
Author: Martin Rinckart (1636)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863, alt.)
Meter: 67 67 66 66
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ; ; ;
Topic: Doxologies; Praise & Adoration; Creation and Providence (4 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Johann Crüger (1647)
Meter: 67 67 66 66
Key: E♭ Major
Source: Felix Mendelssohn's Lobegesang, Opus 52, 1840, harm. based on

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Chron. 29:13, Ps. 107:1, 8
st. 2 = Phil. 4:7

Martin Rinkart (b. Eilenburg, Saxony, Germany, 1586; d. Eilenburg, 1649) was a pastor during the horrors of the Thirty Years' War, and that difficult ministry inspired him to both sacrificial service and to the writing of hymns of praise and confidence in God. As a youth he was a choirboy at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, and then studied at the university there. He became a schoolmaster and cantor, held several pastorates, and became the archdeacon in Eilenburg in 1617, a position he held until his death. Because of the war the walled city of Eilenburg was overflowing with refugees, causing widespread disease and famine. During the epidemic of 1637 Rinkart officiated at over four thousand funerals, including his wife's; at times he presided at fifty burials a day. But in spite of these incredible demands on his ministry, he wrote many theological works and sixty hymns, of which "Now Thank We All Our God" is best known.

The text was published in the 1663 edition of his Jesu Heartz-Büchlein; it was presumably published in the earlier 1636 edition, but no copy of that edition is extant. The translation by Catherine Winkworth (PHH 194) was published in her Lyra Germanica in 1858 and again in her Chorale Book for England in 1863.

The text alludes to the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus 50:22-24 (part of the Lutheran Bible), which reads: "Now bless the God of all, who in every way does great things," Stanza 1 thanks God for, what he has done in the past; stanza 2 prays for God's guidance in the future; stanza 3 is a Trinitarian doxology styled after the "Gloria Patri." Stanzas 1 and 2 were originally meant to be sung as a table grace; stanza 3 was added later as a Trinitarian doxology. (Stories that Rinkart wrote his text for the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 are incorrect, although this hymn was used in the celebrations of that year.)

Liturgical Use:
Most commonly at the conclusion of worship; useful for many occasions of thanksgiving: regular worship services, weddings, harvest thanksgiving.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

NUN DANKET, named for the incipit of Rinkart's text, has been associated with this text ever since they were published together by Johann Cruger (PHH 42) in his Praxis Pietatis Melica (1647). Like most modern hymnals, the Psalter Hymnal prints the isorhythmic (all equal rhythms) version. The tune was used by Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) in his cantatas 79 and 192 and by Felix Mendelssohn (PHH 279) in the Lobgesang movement of his Symphony No.2 (1840); the harmonization is based on the one in six voices by Mendelssohn in that work. There are also many organ compositions based on NUN DANKET.

A bar form (AAB), NUN DANKET is a splendid tune for majestic occasions of thanks¬giving. Sing stanzas 1 and 2 in either unison or harmony, but sing the doxology in stanza 3 in unison, preferably with a descant. Observe a fermata at the ends of the first two systems. This tune needs a broad tempo.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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