By Martin Rinkart
The story behind this great and popular hymn opens our understanding to the fact that no matter how significant and terrible your challenges are, God can handle and subdue them. Although upon hearing this hymn, one may never realize that this song of praise was composed during times of tragic experiences.
A period of severe human hardship; imaginable during the thirty years war between 1618 and 1948, Then came this great hymn which has been sung on many occasion where people gather to rejoice.
This song was composed by a man called Martin Rinkart. Martin Rinkart was born on the 23rd of April 1586, in Eilenberg, Saxony, Germany, to the family of a poor coppersmith.
He was a chorister in the famous St. Thomas Church of Leipzig, Germany, where he worked his way through to the University of Leipzig and was ordained to the ministry of the Lutheran church.
At the age of thirty-one, he was called to be the pastor in his native town of Eilenberg. He arrived there just when the dreadful bloodshed began. Eilenberg, being a walled city, became a severely overcrowded refuge for politicians and military from far and near.
Throughout the war, several waves of deadly pestilence and famine swept the city as various armies marched through the town. The home of Rinkart serves as a refuge for the afflicted victims.
In 1637, a great pestilence swept through the area, resulting in the death of some eight thousand persons, including Rinkart’s wife. As at then, Rinkart was the only minister left in Eilenberg because others had either died or fled? Rinkart alone conducted the burial services for four thousand, four hundred and eighty people. Sometimes as many as forty or fifty people daily.
During the closing years of the war, Eilenberg was overrun or besieged by invading armies on three different occasions, one by the Austrian army and twice by the Swedish army. On one occasion, the Swedish general demanded that the town’s people make a payment of thirty thousand thalers. Martin Rinkart served as an intermediary, pleading that the impoverished city could not meet such a levy.
However, his quest was disregarded. Turning to his companions, the pastor said: “come, my children, we can find no mercy with man: let us take refuge with God.” On his knees, he led them in fervent prayer and in the singing of a familiar hymn “when in the hour of utmost need.”
The Swedish commander was moved that he reduced the levy to one thousand three hundred and fifty thalers. God answered the prayer of Rinkart and his people and put an end to the calamities. The pestilence stopped, and there was peace in the land.
During the thanksgiving service organized to appreciate the Lord for this pandemic, Rinkart presents this poem of praise which has become a noble song of praise to the whole world today.
Hymn: Now Thank We All Our God
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms
Hath bless’d us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.
Oh 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 perplex’d
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next
All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Holy Ghost,
Supreme in highest heaven,
The One eternal God,
Whom earth and heav’n adore,
For thus it was, is now
And shall be evermore. (Amen)
Whatever you are passing through now is still within God’s control. Your case can always end in testimony. That sickness is not unto death; the God of all flesh will heal you. God will miraculously pay that debt. That storm in your home will disappear. That falling business will rise again. You will be a wonder to your world.
All you need to do is to believe God for your restoration. The God who hears the prayer of Martin Rinkart is very much alive, and forever powerful. He will turn that situation around, and you will rejoice at the end.