543

Now Thank We All Our God

Full Text

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
in this world and 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 earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

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.)
 
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The God who was active in providing his Son for our redemption, has also been active in the course of history and in the lives of his people. His activity in the course of history began when he created all things. Belgic Confession, Article 12 teaches that God, “when it seemed good to him, created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, by the Word—that is to say, by the Son.” In addition, “God created human beings from the dust of the earth and made and formed them in his image and likeness.”
 
His activity also includes his constant care for all he has created. “…He watches over us with fatherly care, sustaining all creatures under his lordship” (Belgic Confession, Article 13). Additionally, God reveals himself by this “creation, preservation and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book...” (Belgic Confession, Article 2).
 

We also believe that God’s mighty acts are revealed “in the unfolding of covenant history…witnessing to the news that Our World Belongs to God and he loves it deeply” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 33). Primary among these actions in the unfolding of covenant history is “the long road of redemption to reclaim the lost as his people and the world as his kingdom” (paragraph 18). As God’s people observe his work in their lives and in history they respond with praise and adoration.

543

Now Thank We All Our God

Call to Worship

A call to worship especially mindful of children
God makes the sun rise and set.
He is faithful from generation to generation.
God makes summer and winter come and go.
He is faithful from generation to generation.
God helps plants grow and flowers bloom.
He is faithful from generation to generation.
God gives us food to eat, places to live, and people to love us.
He is faithful from generation to generation.
God is always with us.
He is faithful from generation to generation.
God keeps his promises to us.
He is faithful from generation to generation.
Let us praise our faithful God.
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Words of Praise

Let us give thanks to the Lord,
our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer.
Let us remember his mercy, for he is gracious and compassionate.
We thank you for calling us to faith in Christ,
for putting your Spirit within us,
for giving us the mind of Christ,
for gathering us into your church.
We thank you, Lord, for extending your grace to us,
for calling us to a life of gratitude,
for calling us to service in your kingdom.
Thanks be to God!
Let us give thanks to the Lord,
for he satisfies the thirsty, he fills the hungry with good things,
and he heals the afflicted. Let us celebrate his abundant goodness.
We thank you, gracious Father,
that you provide for all our needs,
for the food on our tables,
for the clothes on our bodies,
for the beds we sleep in,
and for the dwellings that shelter us.
We praise you for all your gifts that go beyond our basic needs,
for the things that make our work easier,
for the conveniences of modern life,
for the beauty and pleasure that you bring into our lives.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Assurance

This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance:
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
There is one God; there is one mediator
between God and humankind, Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for all, to whom we testify.
Great indeed is the mystery of our religion:
He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.
—based on 1 Timothy 1:15; 2:5-6; 3:16, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Blessing/Benediction

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
guard your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
remain with you always. Amen.
—based on Philippians 4:7, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Almighty God, the one who created the world and everything in it,
the one who came to die for you, the one who lives within you,
loves you now and always, will never leave you or forsake you,
and holds you tight as you leave this place.
With a grateful heart, go in peace.
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Almighty and ever present God,
you uphold heaven and earth and all creatures.
All things come from your generous hand:
You send the nourishing rain, the refreshing wind,
the warming sun, the blustering snow.
You make buds appear, flowers bloom,
fruit grow, and harvests mature.
Through each day of our lives,
whether in sickness or health,
prosperity or poverty, joy or sorrow,
you are in control.
Help us to be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and always confident that nothing
could ever separate us from your love.
For your unending faithfulness, we thank and praise you.
To you be glory, now and forever. Amen.
—based on Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A’s 27-28
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
543

Now Thank We All Our God

Tune Information

Name
NUN DANKET
Key
F Major
Meter
6.7.6.7.6.6.6.6

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

Stanza 1 is easy for children to learn. Motions will help the youngest ones to memorize the text:
 
Now thank we / all our God
Clasp hands / spread arms out and up
with heart / and hands / and voices,
cross hands over heart / palms together / cup hands around mouth
who wondrous things has done,
raise left hand in wide arc from right to left
in whom his world rejoices;
raise right hand in wide arc, both hands extended high
who from our mother's arms
cradle arms and rock
has blessed us on our way
move hands beat by beat away from body
with countless gifts of love,
raise arms up and out in wide arc
and still is ours today.
cross arms over heart
 
Stanza 2 is a prayer for guidance, and stanza 3 concludes with a doxology. The combination of thankfulness, petition, and doxology make this song very appropriate for a number of liturgical settings as well as for weddings. Try using the third stanza for the doxology for the whole season of Thanksgiving before Advent, and then switch to a new doxology for Advent. 
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 12)
— Emily Brink
543

Now Thank We All Our God

Hymn Story/Background

The text was published in the 1663 edition of Rinkart’s 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 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.)
 
NUN DANKET, named for the incipit of Rinkart's text, has been associated with this text ever since they were published together by Johann Crüger in his Praxis Pietatis Melica (1647). The tune was used by Johann S. Bach in his cantatas 79 and 192 and by Felix Mendelssohn in the Lobgesang (“hymn of praise”) 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 thanks­giving. 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.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

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.
— Bert Polman

Catherine Winkworth (b. Holborn, London, England, 1827; d. Monnetier, Savoy, France, 1878) is well known for her English translations of German hymns; her translations were polished and yet remained close to the original. Educated initially by her mother, she lived with relatives in Dresden, Germany, in 1845, where she acquired her knowledge of German and interest in German hymnody. After residing near Manchester until 1862, she moved to Clifton, near Bristol. A pioneer in promoting women's rights, Winkworth put much of her energy into the encouragement of higher education for women. She translated a large number of German hymn texts from hymnals owned by a friend, Baron Bunsen. Though often altered, these translations continue to be used in many hymnals. Her work was published in two series of Lyra Germanica (1855, 1858) and in The Chorale Book for England (1863), which included the appropriate German tune with each text as provided by Sterndale Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt. Winkworth also translated biographies of German Christians who promoted ministries to the poor and sick and compiled a handbook of biographies of German hymn authors, Christian Singers of Germany (1869).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Johann Crüger (b. Grossbriesen, near Guben, Prussia, Germany, 1598; d. Berlin, Germany, 1662) attended the Jesuit College at Olmutz and the Poets' School in Regensburg, and later studied theology at the University of Wittenberg. He moved to Berlin in 1615, where he published music for the rest of his life. In 1622 he became the Lutheran cantor at the St. Nicholas Church and a teacher for the Gray Cloister. He wrote music instruction manuals, the best known of which is Synopsis musica (1630), and tirelessly promoted congregational singing. With his tunes he often included elaborate accom­paniment for various instruments. Crüger's hymn collection, Neues vollkomliches Gesangbuch (1640), was one of the first hymnals to include figured bass accompaniment (musical shorthand) with the chorale melody rather than full harmonization written out. It included eighteen of Crüger's tunes. His next publication, Praxis Pietatis Melica (1644), is considered one of the most important collections of German hymnody in the seventeenth century. It was reprinted forty-four times in the following hundred years. Another of his publications, Geistliche Kirchen Melodien (1649), is a collection arranged for four voices, two descanting instruments, and keyboard and bass accompaniment. Crüger also published a complete psalter, Psalmodia sacra (1657), which included the Lobwasser translations, set to all the Genevan tunes.
— Bert Polman

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (b. Hamburg, Germany, 1809; d. Leipzig, Germany, 1847) was the son of banker Abraham Mendelssohn and the grandson of philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His Jewish family became Christian and took the Bartholdy name (name of the estate of Mendelssohn's uncle) when baptized into the Lutheran church. The children all received an excellent musical education. Mendelssohn had his first public performance at the age of nine and by the age of sixteen had written several symphonies. Profoundly influenced by J. S. Bach's music, he conducted a performance of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829 (at age 20!)—the first performance since Bach's death, thus reintroducing Bach to the world. Mendelssohn organized the Domchor in Berlin and founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music in 1843. Traveling widely, he not only became familiar with various styles of music but also became well known himself in countries other than Germany, especially in England. He left a rich treasury of music: organ and piano works, overtures and incidental music, oratorios (including St. Paul,  Elijah and choral works, and symphonies. He harmonized a number of hymn tunes himself, but hymnbook editors also arranged some of his other tunes into hymn tunes.
— Bert Polman

Song Notes

To help children learn stanza 1, add motions to the text:
 
Now thank we/all our God
     clasp hands/spread arms out and up
with heart/and hands/and voices
     cross hands over heart/palms together/cup hands around mouth
who wondrous things has done,
     raise left hand in wide arc from right to left
in whom his world rejoices;
     raise right hand in wide arc, both hands extended high
who from our mother’s arms
     cradle arms and rock
has blessed us on our way
     move hands beat by beat away from body
with countless gifts of love,
     raise arms up and out in wide arc
and still is ours today.
     cross arms over heart
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