Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:8-9, NIV
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 blessèd 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.
~Martin Rinkart, ca 1636We sang this hymn around Thanksgiving in the church of my childhood. Only this week I've learned a bit of its context, courtesy of the Nancy Leigh DeMoss devotional The Quiet Place.
In the seventeenth century, Lutheran pastor Martin Rinkart served in a walled city in Saxony during the Thirty Years' War. People from surrounding villages streamed into the city for safety, taxing its resources. When the city fell under siege, the situation deteriorated further as death and disease decimated the inhabitants. Eventually, Rinkart was the lone surviving pastor, performing as many as 50 funerals a day.
His bold, faithful action met with mercy from the commander of the besieging army. The war shortly thereafter ended, and Rinkart composed the text (and possibly the tune) of this familiar hymn for a community celebration of God's deliverance.
For me, the embattled history of this hymn ennobles it. The writer was not composing platitudes beside a full table and warm hearth. He overflowed with thanksgiving to his God for a notable, needful deliverance from a desperate situation. When we find ourselves in a situation in which only God can come to our rescue, and He does, do we likewise overflow with testimonies and songs of gratitude, or do we forget the grandeur of the deliverance as soon as the need has passed?
I thank Him this Thanksgiving for His great mercy to permit trials in my life that make me desperate for Him, so that I might better see and appreciate His mighty, gracious hand of deliverance. May He make me truly thankful for His lovingkindness.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you, those of you who celebrate it as we in the U.S. do.
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