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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving

The story of the following hymn speaks for itself. Draw your own comparisons to your own life and responses to your own struggles. 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. Here's what one account of the circumstances surrounding this hymn's authorship says:
"Martin Rinkart was a pastor in the little city of Eisenberg [sic] in Saxony during the Thirty Years' War. This walled city was the goal of refugees during that time. They came and ate all the food, and then there was starvation. With the starvation came pestilence, until practically the whole population of the city died. Martin Rinkart, the only pastor left in the city, had as many as fifty funerals in one day. One evening after having conducted funerals all day, he sank down exhausted, thinking that he could bear it no longer..."
Actually, Eilenberg was the town's name, and it was sacked three times during Rinkart's pastorate. One of those many funerals Rinkart held was for his own wife. And yet, he wrote the words of this hymn as a response to the trials of the Thirty Years' War in 1644, toward the end of active conflict. Consider that as today's turkey and dressing and the sauces and pies and trimmings wend their way slowly through your system, likely adding another five pounds' weight by the end of the holidays... Got troubles? 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.
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