Nu takker alle Gud

   Written by on November 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Yes, this is the Dane way of saying “Now thank we all our God.”  This is a hymn that, as a child, my family sang every Thanksgiving.  You might think that the composer Martin Rinckart lived a charmed life; however, you’d be wrong.

 Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Pastor Rinckart was a German Lutheran pastor who lived in the early 1600’s.  He was the son of a poor coppersmith who used his musical talents to work his way through the University of Leipzig.  He started his ministry as the choir director in Eisleben, Germany.

At the age of thirty-one Rinckart became the Archdeacon in his hometown of Eilenburg, Saxony.  The Thirty-Year War began just as he started his ministry and he died one year after the end of the war.  For these thirty-one years, Rinckart helped his congregation through a myriad of distresses.  He dealt with what many of the traumas of war including the quartering of soldiers in his house, as well as the plundering of his fields and household goods.

In 1637, a severe and deadly plague hit Eilenburg.  The Swedes had been ransacking the countryside.  The resulting devastation caused a growing number of refugees to seek asylum in the increasingly overcrowded town.  The plague struck with deadly results.  In one year alone, 8,000 persons died; all but three members of the town council, a large number of school aged children, and the clergymen of the neighboring parish all died.  Rinckart accepted the responsibility for three parishes.  He buried thousands of people, including his wife.  The plague was followed by a famine so extreme that forty persons were seen fighting in the street for a dead cat.  Rinckart organized assistance, and gave away everything except for the barest of rations for his own family.  His house became the “salvation army.”  The poor found his home their only refuge and they were constantly at his door.

As the plague ended, the warring Swedes returned and imposed a tribute of 30,000 dollars on the town.  Rinckart dared to go to the enemy general to plead for mercy.  When the general refused, Rinckart said to the townspeople, “Come, my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men, let us take refuge with God.”  He fell on his knees, and prayed with such touching earnestness that the Swedish general relented, and lowered his demand.

The prayer he wrote for his children, “Now Thank We All Our God,” shows how little his spirit was broken.  Was this man in denial?  Out of touch?  Hardly.  Rinckart was a person of audacious faith.  He knew thanksgiving flows from the love of God and not outward circumstance.

Oprah Winfrey, following this thought, put her feelings about Thanksgiving this way: be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Thanksgiving is a great time to build a connection with your family.  We all have stories.  God has brought us through valleys.  He’s been with us in joy and sadness.  Talk about this story and your own stories with your family.  Let us be thankful this Thanksgiving, remembering how we’ve been loved.  And, enjoy Pastor Rinckart’s prayer with your family.

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.

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!

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 Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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