Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Now Thank We All Our God--again

 I love reading hymns in my morning devotions.  Sometimes I spend all my time on the opening hymn and Psalm. I own two hymnal sources, both Protestant, but often these hymns are also used in Catholic services.  Today it was Now Thank We All Our God.  I wrote about it for Thanksgiving 2022. Collecting My Thoughts: Now thank we all our God, story of a favorite hymn  Such an interesting and tragic background.  Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor, wrote it during the 30 Years War, the most devasting war in Europe's history.  The war is often called a religious war, however, it was primarily political with the various Lutheran and Catholic princes fighting each other, plus disease and starvation. It wiped out about half of the German population.

I noticed today that it was based on a benediction in Sirach (The Wisdom of Sirach or The Book of Ecclesiasticus) 50:22-24. "And now, bless the God of all/ who has done wondrous things on earth;/ Who fosters men's growth from their mother's womb,/ and fashions them according to his will!/ May he grant you joy of heart/ and may peace abide among you;/ May his goodness toward us endure in Israel/ as long as the heavens are above." 

"Martin Rinkart was a minister in the city of Eilenburg during the Thirty Years War. Apart from battles, lives were lost in great number during this time due to illnesses and disease spreading quickly throughout impoverished cities. In the Epidemic of 1637, Rinkart officiated at over four thousand funerals, sometimes fifty per day. In the midst of these horrors, it’s difficult to imagine maintaining faith and praising God, and yet, that’s exactly what Rinkart did. Sometime in the next twenty years, he wrote the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” originally meant to be a prayer said before meals. Rinkart could recognize that our God is faithful, and even when the world looks bleak, He is “bounteous” and is full of blessings, if only we look for them. Blessings as seemingly small as a dinner meal, or as large as the end of a brutal war and unnecessary bloodshed are all reasons to lift up our thanks to God, with our hearts, our hands, and our voices."

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