Now Thank We All Our God

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"Now thank we all our God" is a popular Christian hymn. It is a translation from the German "Nun danket alle Gott", written c. 1636 by 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 Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648.

Translation[edit]

Below is the 19th century translation by Catherine Winkworth:

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.

Original text[edit]

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 hier her hat getan.

Der ewig reiche Gott
Woll uns bei unsrem 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 dem, der beiden gleich
Im höchsten Himmelsthrone,
Dem einig höchsten Gott,
Als er anfänglich war
Und ist und bleiben wird
Jetzt und immerdar.
[2]

Melody[edit]

Below is the melody as it appears in an harmonization by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 252).[3]


\new Staff <<
\clef treble
\new Voice = "Soprano"
  { \key g \major \tempo 4=80 \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]

The tune was composed by Johannes Crüger, tutor to the von Blumenthal family and director of music at the Nikolaikirche in Berlin. 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, about 25,000 men. Thereafter the melody was known in German, and sometimes in English, as "Leuthen".

Musical settings[edit]

It is used in J.S. Bach's cantatas, such as BWV 79, 192, harmonized for four voices in BWV 252, 386 and set in a choral prelude in BWV 657.[2] 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). 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.

Musical settings[edit]

Max Reger composed a chorale prelude as No. 27 of his 52 Chorale Preludes, Op. 67 in 1902.

Other languages[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Liederdatenbank: Nun danket alle Gott". www.liederdatenbank.de. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Chorale: Non danket alle Gott - Text & Translation". www.bach-cantatas.com. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "3 Choräle zu Trauungen, BWV 250-252 (Bach, Johann Sebastian)" (PDF). imslp.org. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel. 1864. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 

External links[edit]