Now Thank We All Our God
by Dr. T. A. Raedeke

Beautiful music can only be produced on a violin when the strings of the instrument are under enormous tension. Similarly, many of the sweetest hymns of the Christian faith have been produced under conditions that would make most people cry, not sing.

It was about 1647 A.D. in Germany. The Thirty Years War was just about at an end. The war had taken its toll in caualties, in extreme taxation, poverty and disease. Rev. Martin Rinckart, a Lutheran minister, was left alone in Eilenberg to minister to the sick and dying at the height of the plague that claimed 8,000 lives. He conducted more than 4,500 funerals -- often as many as 50 in a single day -- including the burial of his wife. Food was so scarce that grown men foraged the garbage heaps in search of food. Everywhere there was hunger, sickness and death.

Yet, Rinckart was able to set aside all adversity to give to the Christian church this immortal hymn of thanksgiving:

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices;
Who wonderous things hath done in Whom His world rejoices.
Who from our mother's arms hath 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 still in 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.

The First Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving was held by the Pilgrims in October of 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts. After losing half their population the first winter to hunger and sickness, they had planted seeds and were blessed with a large crop. To show their thanks to Almighty God, they declared a holiday and invited their new-found friends the Wampanoag Indians.

They ate roast duck and geese, clams and shellfish, peas, salad, corn-rye bread, cooked venison provided by the Indians and wine made by the Pilgrims. For 3 days they feasted. They engaged in games of skill, target shooting with bows and arrows and muskets, and dance demonstrations.

The celebration spread throughout the colonies and in 1789 George Washington declared November 26 as a day of Thanksgiving. More than 150 years later, it was decided to celebrate Thanksgiving as a National Holiday on the fourth Thursday of November.