Behind the Hymn: Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God is translated from the German hymn “Nun danket alle Gott”.  The German hymn was written by Martin Rinkart in 1636.

Rinkart was a Lutheran Minister and accomplished musician.  At the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War he came to the city of Eilenburg, Saxony, which was a walled city.  The city served as a place of refuge for political and military fugitives, but quickly became overcrowded and dealt with famine and pestilence.

The Rinkart’s opened their homes as a refuge to those that were suffering.  He was the only surviving pastor in Eilenburg during the severe plague of 1637.  He is said to have conducted as many as fifty funerals a day during this time.  His own wife was one of the funerals he preached.

Rinkart was a prolific hymn writer.  Only a few of his sixty-six hymns were reprinted in German hymnbooks.

Rinkart wrote “Now Thank We All Our God” as a table grace for his family.

Johann Crüger, who wrote the melody, published the song in the 1647 edition of his Praxis pietatis melica.

Now Thank We All Our God was sung widely at when the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648.

Catherine Winkworth translated the hymn into English.


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