Hymn Story: Now We Thank We All Our God
At the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War, the walled city of Eilenburg, Saxony struggled with overcrowding, deadly pestilence, and famine. This area is part of Germany today.
Lutheran minister Martin Rinkart, and his family, opened their home to refuges.
By 1637, Rinkart was the only surviving pastor, conducting as many as fifty funeral a day throughout a severe plague. That year his wife was one of the more than four thousand funerals her presided over.
Rinkart was a prolific hymn writer. While the exact date he wrote the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” is unknown, it is known that the song had become popular by the time three peace treaties were signed in 1648. These treaties are known as the Peace of Westphalia.
Johann Crüger published the hymn in his 1647 hymnal, Praxis pietatis melica. The hymn was set to the Lutheran hymn setting, Zahn No. 5142 and published under the German title “Nun danket alle Gott”.
There is a highly questionable legend that the hymn sung by the entire assembled Prussian army after the Battle of Leuthen in 1757.
Catherine Winkworth translated the hymn into English in the 19th Century.