Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today. (Covenant Hymnal, 31)

This great hymn was written by Lutheran Pastor Martin Rinkhart, serving in the walled city of Eilenburg, Germany during the horrors of the thirty years war, 1618-1648 — a most brutal span of years filled with war, famine, and the Black Plague. There were four ministers in the town: one abandoned his post, and pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals for the other two. 1637 was the year of the Black Plague. As the only pastor left, he conducted an average of 40 funerals a day, and 4,480 in all. In May of that year his own wife died.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;

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

Wanting to give his children a song to sing to God in thanks at the dinner table, Rinkart sat down and composed what would become a beloved thanksgiving hymn. While living in a moment dominated by death, Martin wrote this timeless prayer of thanksgiving for his children.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
the Son, and him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
the one eternal God, whom earth and heav’n adore;
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore. 

All is well, friends, even in these deadly days. Gratitude comes from faith in God’s presence and promises, that even this world’s dark tragedies cannot touch. Love wins, life wins. “NO!” we shout into the face of what we face: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37). 

We join brother Martin in the song which will get us through these days.

-Pastor Pete

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