Now Thank We All Our God

Representative 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
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.

Psalter Hymnal (Gray), 1987

Translator: Catherine Winkworth

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 i… Go to person page >

Author: Martin Rinkart

Rinkart, Martin, son of Georg Rinkart or Rinckart, cooper at Eilenburg on the Mulde, Saxony, was born at Eilenburg, April 23, 1586.* After passing through the Latin school at Eilenburg, he became, in Nov., 1601, a foundation scholar and chorister of the St. Thomas's School at Leipzig. This scholarship also allowed him to proceed to the University of Leipzig, where he matriculated for the summer session of 1602, as a student of Theology; and after the completion of his course he remained for some time in Leipzig (he did not take his M.A. till 1616). In March 1610 he offered himself as a candidate for the post of diaconus at Eilenburg, and was presented by the Town Council, but the Superintendent refused to sanction this arrangement, nominal… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices
Title: Now Thank We All Our God
German Title: Nun danket alle Gott
Translator: Catherine Winkworth
Author: Martin Rinkart (1636)
Meter: 6.7.6.7.6.6.6.6
Language: English
Notes: Nel. Nun danket alle Gott

Notes

Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) was the Bishop of Eilenberg, Germany during the Thirty Years' War. Since Eilenberg was a walled city it became a place of refuge for fugitives of the war, and also a place of famine and disease due to overcrowding. In 1637 at the height of their misery, Rinkart was the only clergyman left in the city who could perform the 40 or 50 necessary burial services daily -- one of which was for his wife. As if that weren't enough, the city was sacked three times by invaders, one of which imposed a large tribute payment upon the people. During this time, Rinkart managed to find the time to write 7 dramas and 66 hymns.

The hymn "Nun danket alle Gott" was originally titled "Tisch-Gebetlein," or a "little prayer before the meal." This humble prayer of thanksgiving is laid out simply and beautifully in the first verse, but it's the next two verses that expand the hymn's focus and have given it its lasting appeal. You can see the Thirty Years' War pressing on his mind in verse two:

And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

After a verse of thanks, and a verse that asks for strength during the trials of life, he ends with a paraphrase of the doxology as if to say, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, may the name of the Lord be praised." --Greg Scheer, 1995

Tune

NUN DANKET

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 (PHH 42) in his Praxis Pietatis Melica (1647). Like most modern hymnals, the Psalter Hymnal prints the isorhythmic (all equal rhythms) version. The tune w…

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