Wilshire Sings: Gratitude amid conflict

by | Nov 17, 2023 | Wilshire Sings

By Ralph Manuel. 

“Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices … and keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed …”
—“Now Thank We All Our God”

What must it be like to live in a world where war and conflict are all around us? At times we feel as if we are in such a world, given the events we hear on the news every day. However, for Martin Rinkart, a pastor in Eilenburg, Germany, during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), war was a constant companion. In 1637 alone, he officiated nearly 4,500 burials, including that of his wife.

Yet, amid all that suffering, Rinkart wrote this incredible hymn of gratitude to God. His words were set to music some 10 years later by Johann Crüger, cantor of the Lutheran Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Berlin. Over the years this hymn became one of the most widely sung hymns in Germany.

The musical version of this hymn we sing today comes from the harmonization of Crüger’s tune made by Felix Mendelssohn in his Symphony No. 2 called Hymn of Praise (1840).

■ Wilshire Sings is an occasional feature about our loved hymns and spiritual songs.