When I read this prayer, I can’t help but hum the hymn. We sing it every November as Thanksgiving approaches and having read the story behind the hymn it seems even more poignant this year.
The hymn/prayer was written during Germany’s Thirty Years War by Martin Rinkart who served as the Bishop of Eilenberg. The war devastated much of the German countryside, and the walled city of Eilenberg became a place of safety for those displaced from their land, but the more refugees the city welcomed, the more that overcrowding, famine, and disease became the norm. By 1637 Martin Rinkart was the only pastor left in the city available to perform dozens of daily funeral services and he presided over 4,000 burials that year.
This beautiful prayer is now the first verse of the hymn “Nun danket alle Gott” and the second verse tells the truth about Martin Rinkart’s experience of war, famine, and disease saying, “and keep us in your grace, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills, in this world and the next.”
Let us pray:
Now thank we all our God,
With heart and hand and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mother’s arms
Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
—Martin Rinckart, 1586–1649
Worship at Kenilworth Union Church
Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. Mid-Day Prayer, Live in the Sanctuary or Livestream
Sundays at 8:30 a.m. Outdoor Worship, Meet in the Garden
Sundays at 10 a.m. Summer Worship, Livestream
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