Now thanks be unto God. 2 Corinthians 2:14
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, Lyra Germanica (London & New York: George Newnes & Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1855), pages 318–19.
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.
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.
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.