Saturday, 28 March 2015

"Now thank we all our God" Composer: Martin Rinkart, 1586-1649

The Thirty Years War in Germany from 1618 to 1648 devastated the land and inflicted incredible hardships on a long-suffering people. But the German Protestants remained true to their faith and bore their trials bravely for conscience sake, at last winning honorable respite from their sufferings in the Peace of Westphalia, October 24, 1648. 

Among the bravest of the sufferers from the war was the Rev. Martin Rinkart, who wrote the hymn originally in German, "Now thank we all our God." It is generally supposed that he wrote it as a hymn of praise because of the restoration of peace at the close of thirty years of horrible strife. 

Catherine Winkworth, who translated this hymn into English, once wrote of him: "So great were Rinkart's own losses and charities that he had the utmost difficulty in finding bread and clothes for his children, and was forced to mortgage his future income for several years. Yet how little his spirit was broken by all these calamities is shown by this hymn and others that he wrote; some, indeed, speaking of his own country's sorrows, but all breathing the same spirit of unbounded trust and readiness to give thanks." 

Rinkart was a skilled musician, as well as a poet; and, besides, he wrote seven dramas based upon the Restoration Period which were produced at the one hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. But he is best known to posterity through his hymns.  

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