The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was the occasion of Catholics and Protestants warring and killing each other, not to mention plague, famine and starvation. The population of the German area went from 16 million to 6 million!! That was a pandemic with no vaccination, no rich countries to blame, and with refugees fleeing all over Europe. Eilenberg was a walled city so became an overcrowded place of disease and misery. Martin Rinckart, author of the hymn of today, was an accomplished Lutheran musician who studied at the University of Leipzig. At the peak of the war, it is said he did 50 funerals a day!! This hymn is dated at 1636 and was translated into English by Catherine Winkworth who published it around the 1850s.
The Reformation hymns put to music theology of the time but the hymn written by Rinckart approached spirituality differently.
Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
It is hard to imagine a family spending their resources to help refugees and the ill flooding the streets of their town while the family ate scraps. But so it was. I chose the YouTube post and noted that the choir singing is from Cape Town, South Africa, that understands the pain in my lifetime of apartheid and yet they choose this song to sing. Will we be able to raise our voices, our hearts and our hands and rejoice this Thanks giving? Good question for reflection. Please enjoy!