Now Thank We All Our God

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Text and tune with a figured bass in Johann Crügers Praxis pietatis melica, 1653

"Now thank we all our God" is a popular Christian hymn translated from the German "Nun danket alle Gott", written c. 1636 by Protestant minister Martin Rinkart. The melody is attributed to Johann Crüger, who wrote it c. 1647.[1]

Background[edit]

Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran minister who came to Eilenburg, Saxony at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. The walled city of Eilenburg became the refuge for political and military fugitives, but the result was overcrowding, and deadly pestilence and famine. Armies overran it three times. The Rinkart home was a refuge for the victims, even though he was often hard-pressed to provide for his own family. During the height of a severe plague in 1637, Rinkart was the only surviving pastor in Eilenburg, conducting as many as 50 funerals in a day. He performed more than 4000 funerals in that year, including that of his wife.

Rinkart was a prolific hymn writer. In Rinkart's "Jesu Hertz-Buchlein" (Leipzig, Germany: 1636), the hymn appears under the title "Tisch-Gebetlein", or a short prayer before meals. The exact date of "Nun danket alle Gott" is debated, but it is known that it was widely sung by the time the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648. Johann Crüger published it in the 1647 edition of his Praxis pietatis melica.

Text[edit]

Below is the text in a modern version, and a 19th-century translation by Catherine Winkworth

Nun danket alle Gott
mit Herzen, Mund und Händen,
der große Dinge tut
an uns und allen Enden,
der uns von Mutterleib
und Kindesbeinen an
unzählig viel zu gut
bis hierher hat getan.

Der ewig reiche Gott
woll uns in unserm Leben
ein immer fröhlich Herz
und edlen Frieden geben,
und uns in seiner Gnad
erhalten fort und fort,
und uns aus aller Not
erlösen hier und dort.

Lob, Ehr und Preis sei Gott,
dem Vater und dem Sohne,
und Gott, dem Heilgen Geist
im höchsten Himmelsthrone,
ihm, dem dreieinen Gott,
wie es im Anfang war
und ist und bleiben wird
so jetzt und immerdar.

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.

Melody[edit]

The melody is attributed also to Rinckart,[2] but mostly to Johann Crüger,[3] who published it. He was a tutor to the Blumenthal family and director of music at the St. Nicholas' Church, Berlin.


\new Staff <<
\clef treble
\new Voice = "Soprano"
  { \key g \major \tempo 4=108 \set Staff.midiInstrument = "oboe" {
      \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t
      \override Score.BarNumber  #'transparent = ##t      
      \time 4/4      
      \relative c''
      \repeat volta 2 { \partial 4 d | d4 d e e | d2.\fermata b4 | c b a b8 c | a2 g4\fermata } \break
      \relative c'' {
      a4 | a a b b | a2.\fermata a4 | b8 cis d4 d cis | d2.\fermata d4 | e d c b | c2.\fermata b4 | a b8 c a4. g8 | g2. \bar "|."
      }
    }
  }
>>

Leuthen Chorale[edit]

It is claimed that after the Battle of Leuthen in 1757, an unknown Prussian soldier standing near Frederick the Great began singing it spontaneously, and the hymn was taken up by the entire assembled Prussian army. This narrative is however questioned by historians and musicologist, who identifies the story as a later invention of Prussian propaganda.[4][5] Because of this story the melody is known in German, and sometimes in English, as the Leuthen Chorale.

Musical settings[edit]

It is used in J.S. Bach's cantatas, such as BWV 79,[6] 192 (music lost), harmonized for four voices in BWV 252 [7] and 386,[8] and set in a choral prelude in BWV 657.[9] The now-standard harmonisation was devised by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 when he adopted the hymn, sung in the now-standard key of F major[citation needed] and with its original German lyrics, as the chorale to his Lobgesang or Hymn of Praise (also known as his Symphony No. 2).

Max Reger composed a chorale prelude as No. 27 of his 52 Chorale Preludes, Op. 67 in 1902. The late-Romantic German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert used it in his Marche Triomphale. John Rutter composed Now thank we all our God for choir and brass in 1974.

It is often used in Christian weddings and other joyous religious ceremonies, and in Germany it is sung on occasions of national thanksgiving.

Hermann Chr. Bühler made an elaborate setting of Johann Crüger's version.[10]

In 1977 Czech-American composer Václav Nelhýbel arranged a contemporary setting entitled Now Thank We All Our God: "Concertato for 2 trumpets, 2 trombones & Organ with Tuba and Timpani" which incorporated Nun Danket Alle Gott for congregational singing.[11][12][13]

Other languages[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Liederdatenbank: Nun danket alle Gott". www.liederdatenbank.de. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  2. ^ Siegmar Keil (2005)
  3. ^ Michael Fischer (2007).
  4. ^ Hofer, Achim. "Joseph Goldes (1802–1886) Fest-Reveille (1858) über den Choral 'Nun danket alle Gott' für Militärmusik" in Peter Moormann, Albrecht Riethmüller & Rebecca Wolf eds., Paradestück Militärmusik: Beiträge zum Wandel staatlicher Repräsentation durch Musik, Transcript Verlag (2012), pp. 217–38, ISBN 978-3-8376-1655-2.
  5. ^ Kroener, Bernhard R. "'Nun danket alle Gott.' der Choral von Leuthen und Friedrich der Große als protestantischer Held; die Produktion politischer Mythen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert" in Hartmut Lehmann & Gerd Krumeich eds. "Gott mit uns": Religion, Nation und Gewalt im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (2000), pp. 105–34, ISBN 9783525354780.
  6. ^ BWV 79.3 bach-chorales.com
  7. ^ BWV 252 bach-chorales.com
  8. ^ BWV 386 bach-chorales.com
  9. ^ "Chorale: Non danket alle Gott – Text & Translation". www.bach-cantatas.com. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Gesangbuch, Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage, 1977
  11. ^ "Now Thank We All Our God". books.google.com. Retrieved November 25, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Vaclav Nelhybel: Now Thank We All Our God". books.google.com. Retrieved November 25, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Vaclav Nelhybel: Nun Danket Alle Gott". books.google.com. Retrieved November 25, 2017. 

External links[edit]