Now Thank We All Our God
This page includes a lyric video, history, sheet music, and other resources for the classic hymn “Now Thank We All Our God.” Enjoy!
Enjoy this You Tube video, performed by Hymn Charts, with lyrics for “Now Thank We All Our God”:
History of “Now Thank We All Our God”
Words by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), Written around 1636
Martin was born in Eilenburg, Saxony (a state in modern day Germany). After attending a Latin School in Eilenburg, Martin received a scholarship to attend the St. Thomas School in Leipzig. He proceeded on to the University of Leipzig where he studied theology and poetry. He pastored in several Lutheran churches before returning to his hometown of Eilenburg where he served during the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).1
The walled city of Eilenburg saw a steady stream of refugees pour through its gates during the war. The Swedish army surrounded the city, and since it was so overcrowded, the people of Eilenburg, not surprisingly, endured famine and plague.2 It was during this difficult time, that Martin wrote the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” (probably in 1636). A year later, in 1637, the city was struck by a devastating plague. More than half of the 8000 inhabitants died, including Martin’s wife.3 For some time, Martin was the only pastor in the city, and he officiated at as many as forty or fifty burials a day.4
Martin not only served as a pastor but also as a civic leader. At one point, the Swedes demanded a huge ransom from the city, and Martin “left the safety of the walls to plead for mercy. The Swedish commander, impressed by his faith and courage, lowered his demands.”5 Soon afterward, the Thirty Years’ War finally came to an end, and Martin’s hymn was used at a grand celebration service.
Martin passed away just one year after the war ended. Most of his adult life was spent enduring tremendous difficulties. In spite of his “privations and sufferings,” Martin was “a prolific writer of both prose and verse, which reveal the stalwart character of this man whose faith was steadfast and strong.”6
Catherine Winkworth translated this hymn from German to English in 1856. She is credited with making the most lasting and significant contribution in the effort to bring German hymns to the English speaking world.
Tune “Nun Danket” by Johann Crüger (1598-1662), Published in 1647
Catherine Winkworth believed Martin Rinkart wrote this tune in 1644. However, it is generally attributed to Johann Crüger who published it in his famous collection Praxis Pietatis Melica, 1647.
Johann was born in Prussia (modern day Germany). He began his studies at a Jesuit College in Olmutz, proceeded to the University of Regensburg to study music and poetry, and ultimately completed theological studies at the University of Wittenburg. In 1622, Johann became the organist at the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Berlin where he organized and directed the choir; he remained there until his death.7 Johann composed music for many of the best Lutheran hymn writers, and his collection of hymns, Praxis Pietatis Melica, was the outstanding collection of the 17th century; it was published in forty-four editions from 1644 to 1736.8
Additional Resources for “Now Thank We All Our God”:
Sheet Music (PDF Compliments of Hymnary.org)
Guitar Chords (Links to The Guitar Hymn Book)
See our Hymn of the Week page for a list of the hymns that are included on this site.
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1 Hustad, Donald P. Dictionary Handbook to Hymns for the Living Church. Hope Publishing Company, 1978, p. 308.
2 Julian, John, editor. Dictionary of Hymnology. Kregel Publications, 1985 (republished 1907 edition), p. 962.
3 Erickson, J. Irving. Sing It Again! A Handbook on The Covenant Hymnal. Covenant Press, 1985, p. 378.
5 Hymn Time, “Now Thank We All our God.”
6 Reynolds, William Jensen. Hymns of Our Faith: A Handbook for the Baptist Hymnal. Broadman Press, 1964, p. 392.
7 Hustad, Donald P. Dictionary Handbook to Hymns for the Living Church. Hope Publishing Company, 1978, p. 228.
8 Reynolds, William Jensen. Hymns of Our Faith: A Handbook for the Baptist Hymnal. Broadman Press, 1964, p. 276.